"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect." - Mark Twain.
Facebook is everywhere. You'd have to be a cryogenically frozen amoeba living under a rock on Mars not to have heard of it.
So, what's the big deal? Does Facebook really deserve to be hailed as the greatest product of Web 2.0 or is it only a matter of time before all the hoopla becomes a thing of the past?
Many joined Facebook hoping it would bring them closer to the people in their lives, especially those they hadn't seen since the good old days of school. But then the reality set in. For some, getting in touch with said blasts from the past made them realise why they weren't that chummy to begin with.
For others, it's now gotten to the point where they're dealing with an actual addiction; staying up into the wee hours of the morning, showing up late for work, and messaging colleagues in adjacent cubicles (assuming access hasn't been entirely blocked).
I received many requests to join Facebook, some from people I'd only ever said "hi" to once or twice. That didn't make much sense. Why was I being hassled by people I either saw in class everyday or who weren't even that fond of me in the first place? Why could they not take the hint (i.e. my express "no thanks") and move on? And why couldn't anyone come up with a valid reason that didn't involve some degree of peer pressure? This definitely went beyond the desire to get a little closer.
The social networking craze seems to be more about reaffirming ourselves than about connecting with other people. Our entire sense of self is now based on how many "friends" we have on our profiles. Whether or not we know (or like) these people doesn't matter. As long as we can claim to be popular, that's all that counts. As long as we're connected, we exist. The world will have no choice but to acknowledge that.
To those of who are happy with Facebook, what I have to say shouldn't bother you. If it does, maybe that's something you need to think about. In any case, all I can do is offer some advice.
Be reasonable about how much you share online because the last thing you want is to have your identity stolen (or wind up being stalked). And now that companies are using Facebook to investigate prospective employees, a little common sense (and censorship) will come in handy.
To those of you have managed to stay strong up to now, congratulations are in order. Your willpower is admirable! Technology may profess to be bringing us closer together, but one of the things it's doing (other than creating an entire generation who can't spell) is tearing us further apart. We're forgetting what it's like to interact with each other on an organic level.
Nowadays, it's near impossible to have a conversation without whoever you're trying to talk to keeping at least one earphone still plugged in and/or constantly reaching for their phone. What ever happened to undivided attention and good old-fashioned eye contact?
Fact is, you really don't need a website to stay in touch with your family and friends. Why not write them an actual letter, give them an actual phone call, or (insert gasp here) meet them in person?
We're not meant to spend our lives sitting in front of computer screens, thinking we're connecting with others when we're actually not. We're meant to be out living our lives. And even though the online experience may seem real, it can never come close to the interactions in the flesh.
So, what are you waiting for?