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The Great Facebook Debate

Originally published in Redbrick (redbrickpaper.co.uk)

Facebook:  Do our social lives depend on it?  A healthy debate written with the help of the lovely Eve Hynes (@enh19)

Yes! (by Sarah Musgrove)

HALLELUJAH.  I don’t want to exaggerate too much, but thank the stars for Facebook.  This year, I’ve kept in contact with all of my ‘home’ friends, scattered about the country. I’ve even kept in touch with people outside the country – friends in Vienna, France and Canada.  Not that their friendships aren’t priceless, but there’s no way I’m racking up an international phone bill of that proportion.  Just ten years ago, to organise my friends to meet in town, I’d have called each of their house phones and politely asked their parents if they were free to come to the landline.  Yes, we have mobile phones now, but trying to organise a party of more than two people via text messaging is a frustratingly back-and-forth affair.  Whilst we all essentially have super-human thumbs now, we have our limit.  The alternative is writing on my Facebook friendship-group wall: efficient and private.  Bish bash bosh.  See you at the cinema.  Some might say the way we maintain friendships on Facebook is unhealthy.  But then that’s what fifties housewives said about the intolerably violent and undeniably damaging comic book.  I can’t wait to look back fondly in twenty years’ time – ‘Facebook?  How tame!  Just imagine if they saw the brainwave-transmitting-microchips we have today.  How did we ever get anything done?’ So, yes.  Facebook may have unleashed our inner exhibitionist and increased our voyeuristic characteristics at an alarming rate, but I honestly don’t know where else I’d go to harpoon a last-minute FAB ticket.

No! (written by Eve Hynes)

It’s 4am, and you’re Facebook stalking that boy/girl you’ve liked since freshers. You have a lecture at 9 am but there’s not many pictures left now, and you may as well finish the album… Sound familiar? Facebook states that it, ‘helps you connect and share with the people in your life,’ but did you really imagine you’d be spending most of your free time cyber stalking when you first filled in that form in the homepage? Because, let’s be honest, that’s what we do. Facebook encourages us to publish ourselves, as if we were an item that needs marketing and selling. We adapt ourselves to suit the image we wish to present, we ‘like’ what we think is suitable and we attend events we may not even go to because it will make us look busy and popular and cool. However, Facebook does none of these things. Facebook allows you to put yourself out there to be stalked by near-strangers that attended the same school as you 5 years ago. It doesn’t improve your social life. Sure, that online calendar is handy, but when you create an event (your birthday for example), how many people who click ‘attending’ actually come? AND THAT’S OKAY! Because the people that came to your birthday are the people you love, and who love you in return. See, life does exist without Facebook. In fact, I’d argue its better without Facebook. Sure, it’s a little harder to keep in touch with people, but isn’t friendship about making the effort for the people you love?

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