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GREEN: Confessions of a Facebook addict

Published: September 23, 2005
Section: Opinions


A while back, I was indulging in my hourly ritual of checking Facebook. Ok, fine, maybe Im exaggerating a little. Make that my five times-daily ritual. Thats much more accurate. Dont laugh, you know you do it, too.

Anyway, as I logged on, looking to see if anyone had friended me, poked me, or, even more exhilarating, changed their picture, I noticed a new alert. No, my long-lost friend from ballet lessons in fifth grade hadnt located me. My middle school crush hadnt sent me a message, confessing that hed always liked me, too. Instead, the alert announced the pending launch of a high school version of the site. I was shocked. A high school Facebook? Say it aint so.

What is the actual function of Facebook, really? Its creators assert that the website is a directory that networks students from colleges and universities across the country. At its most basic intent, Facebook is a way to keep in touch with old friends from high school, and a venue to meet new people with similar friends and interests from your current school. Sounds pretty benign, right?

Of course, there are the people out there who do utilize Facebook in this manner. They log on once every few weeks at most. They dont update their profiles or their pictures because, honestly, has their appearance or favorite movie really changed in the last few months? Probably not. These are the low-grade Facebook offenders: the people that I, Sarah Green high-grade Facebook offender, aspire to be.

True, as much as I may bash the freakish phenomenon that Facebook has become, I am just as guilty as the next obsessor. Check out all your friends on the site, and Im likely to have those three infamous words underneath my name: Profile updated recently. Yeah, thats me.

We change our picture at least twice a week to whatever most recent shot we have of ourselves looking especially cool or uncommonly attractive. We edit our personal interests and leave people pointless messages on walls just for the hell of it. We dont really search for old acquaintances so we can keep in touch with them over the years;

we simply want to see if theyve dyed their hair, joined a sorority or gained a substantial amount of weight. Facebook is a dating service, gossip mill and work-distracter, all combined into one neat little website.

Based on these undeniable traits, I cant imagine what Facebook is going to do for those millions of high school students out there who are next on line. As superfluous as the service is for college-age students, doesnt it seem even more so for younger kids? You may very well think that I am making too much of this, and that the whole issue is completely harmless. However, it seems that the added dynamic that Facebook inevitably brings along with it is simply another factor that high school-ers dont need. Teenagers are already insecure;

they dont need the most popular girl in school to reject their friend invite, on top of it. Whats next? Preschool Facebook? I wonder what political affiliation a three year old would have.

No, Facebook surely will not be the demise of our nations youth. Eventually itll all phase out. Well lose interest. Our profiles will go un-updated for years on end. But until that happens, Im going to make an effort not to care as much. Im certainly not going to remove my profile altogether (I need something to do in my free time!), but I hereby promise myself to limit my checking the site to a few times a week. I am not going to stalk random people from the depths of my past, and I am not going to put their screen names on my buddy list if Im never actually going to IM them. There you have it, a reformed Facebook junkie. And if you ever happen to see those three ugly words beneath my name again, feel free to call me a hypocrite.