Friday, October 10, 2008

Goodbye Facebook?

Four years ago, I was a freshman at UIC, back when AsianAvenue was as popular as Myspace and Xanga was what Facebook is now. Admittedly, I was a member of both social networking sites, as well as the now more popular sites Myspace and Facebook.

When Facebook first launched for UIC students in December of 2004, (Facebook was not always open to everyone and used to operate by selecting certain universities to join) I was excited. I knew about Facebook a few weeks before they made it available for UIC students to use, my friend at the University of Iowa told me to keep an eye out for it. And that I did. Back then it was known as TheFacebook, it was simple, clean, and easily navigated.

Myspace suddenly blew up and I invested every free minute into leaving comments on my friend's profiles, updating my "about me" section, and carefully rearranging my Top 8, keep in mind that Top 8 was the only option then. I eventually grew bored of Myspace and I deleted my account in December of 2005. My cell phone (about 10 minutes after the deletion) was flooded with texts and calls about why I deleted my account. Did I really need to explain myself? Contrary to popular belief, Myspace really is "a place for friends." (That is, if you plan to grow dependent on communication with your "friends" via comments on a hot pink background, with blinking text and loud music.)

NOTE: I did open another myspace account later that summer. It's not because I felt like something was missing, it really was just out of boredom. Interesting how the reason that made me delete it made me add it again in the first place. This time, it lasted until September 2008. Because then I had finally come up with reasons that stemmed beyond boredom.

By then all my time went into my Facebook account, uploading pictures with clever album titles, writing on friend's walls, tagging friends in previously mentioned albums, and even befriending professors. I think the initial concept of Facebook can be appreciated, "An online directory that connects people through social networks at colleges." Please take note of the last word in that sentence, colleges. If you do a google search for Facebook, you'll see that line directly below the website URL. If it is focused on connecting people through colleges and universities will someone please explain to me why I constantly have a Joe-Nobody from No-Network trying to add me as friend because "I'm beautiful" and because he "wants to get to know me better?" Know me better? In order to get to know me better one must know me at all in the first place. My Facebook account has been on private for years now, no one can view my account except for my friends and I've limited the information that appears when someone searches for me.

With nearly 400 friends (all people I know "personally"), I can't help but wonder what the point of Facebook is anymore, for me at least. In the last three months of my final semester in college, I'm beginning to learn so much about myself. Yeah, yeah, we all think we want to "find ourselves" in college, it's almost a rite of passage, but I speak not mockingly. The people closest to me have seen a change in me that I can't even really explain to you. I guess it was driven by a means to reduce my life's excesses, irrelevent things (and people) I wasted my time on. I feel as if my life is unfolding before me, not the life I imagined for myself as a little girl, but the life I want to make for myself as a twenty-two year old woman.

Which brings me to my next point, relationships. I think I've gotten used to contacting and interacting with friends online that I've forgotten the value of a good face-to-face discussion with a friend. Honestly, what's more personal than talking to someone face-to-face, seeing them react at a story you'd just told, or hearing them tell theirs as you watch and wait eagerly. I've been seeing my friends more and more in the last few weeks and I have to say that it just feels so rewarding. I don't think there's any way to say this without sounding like a dork, but spending time with people who know and care about you and vice versa is irreplaceable. Once a week I have lunch dates with my friend, Alice. Twice a week, I have coffee with my friend, Jackie. And I totally look forward to these dates because it is nice to know that basic human communication can take place outside of the electronic ether known as the web.

So here it is guys, I'm going to delete my Facebook account come Monday. I'm giving myself the weekend to copy and save all the pictures (from 4 years ago on Facebook) that aren't on my hard drive now.

NOTE: I am by no means putting down the people who are still members of Facebook and Myspace. This is a personal decision that has nothing to do with your own reasons for maintaining your membership with these sites. I still have friends who will never give up Facebook because it is fun but I know that for me it's much more fun spending time with my friends face-to-face, not Facebook.

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