There is something about Facebook that just screams out “young adults misbehaving.” Let’s face it; the site itself was designed for college students. And just like in its initial days, college students are still using the website for flirting with their peers. In every class students are taught to hide their “partying frat boy ways” for their future employers, but what about their future friends and possible girlfriends? Better yet, why is it now that hiding your information on Facebook or social media networks makes just as much of a statement as if you weren’t hiding anything at all?
With Facebook we have created digital archives of our lives online. With just clicks of a mouse, people can see us go through weight gain and loss, the birth and demise of romantic relationships, and they can determine who our best friends and family members are. They can find our favorites movies and shows, they can gauge our ability to construct a sentence and our sense of humor. By accepting a friend request we invite these people to share in these pixelated scrapbooks, so when we notice someone is hiding something from us—and say, not hiding that same information from another person—it can feel like a personal attack or a instill a sense of distrust. I recently witnessed a fight that happened because one girl blocked another girl from her profile, even though they were still “facebook official” friends. I’ve also witnessed ex-girlfriends feeling scorned at an ex blocking them from seeing information on their profile. For the jilted lovers, they said it felt like it forced the question “not as to why they are hiding it [the information], but as to what it is they are hiding.”
So why is it that with Facebook a large majority of people feel almost entitled to the things they don’t expect to come up in daily face-to-face conversation? Do I expect to hear my friends tell me all about their recent conversation with their estranged cousin? Nope. What about hearing of an acquaintance’s new dog that they got over the weekend? Yeah, probably not.
Technology has made our lives easier in so many ways. Some people say it has caused a bit of an “information overload” for our society, and that is true. The easier access to information about our “friends” that Facebook has provided has made our friendships and relationships that much more complicated, and because it acts as an extension of our lives, when these friendships and relationships might end it is viewable on a public scale. Yet to not subject in this public display of information is going against the grain and leaves a feeling of being “left out.” After over a year of voluntarily being Facebook-less, my friend Jim re-activated his account. One of his reasons was “because like it or not Facebook is a way that people commonly connect with each other in today’s world, and right now I am trying to expand my social circles.”
So when people say we are nearing the approach of Big Brother a la 1984, sometimes I think Big Brother is already here, and being egged on by our constant habit of publically announcing our lives on a digital forum that is easily accessible.
But hey, I’m guilty of Facebook creeping one-too-many times, so if this easy-access information can help me weed out a poor dating-prospect early on, why not?! Plus it totally makes Christmas shopping much easier. (So keep on liking those pages girlfriend! I need gift ideas!)