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Facebook Rants on Reality

Perhaps an introduction would have been appropriate for my first post on "Notes From the Digital Frontier," as I am not a very tech-savvy person. To specify, I like outdoor activities: throwing frisbee, going on bike rides, or just laying in the sun. I don't like to be online for extended periods of time; I am a college student, and often subject my eyes to the monitor's glow like a tanning bed. After looking away, I feel as if my brain has been sunburned.

During a discussion about Facebook with my roommate this past weekend, I learned he has apparently not gone on his account in months. He gave me two reasons for this: "I don't want to talk to the people I'm friends with, and I just don't care."

Until recently, I was never enthused about posting something on Facebook because I never felt like what I was posting had any relevance whatsoever. Now, I've been posting things I find interesting, such as an article from the NY Times, or a story from a literary journal; more people have commented on interest-posts compared to something like, "I'm at Starbucks drinking a mocha cappuccino!" Perhaps I'm just trying to nurture my interests/future ambitions, but I still face a problem of reality.

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If someone asked me, "Could you live without Facebook?" I would probably gawk at them; but what I can't live without are the people with whom I'm closest. Facebook will never replace the day to day activities I partake with friends, nor will it replace the conversations. I often hear stories of people spending hours on Facebook, or immersed in some new technology to the point where their perspective on reality becomes skewed. Recently I had a friend who got into a fight with his girlfriend over something I commented on, which was harmless, vague, and I meant no ill will. Though it is not true for many people, my biggest problem with Facebook and social media in general, is the artificial feel to it all.

Facebook is redundant to me. The service seems to aim at changing human interaction instead of just being a service. When people tell me, "I have Facebook to keep up with friends," I think that's their initial reasoning, but they could also use it for blackmailing an enemy, sabotaging a relationship, or even stalking people. Yes, there are privacy settings, but Facebook is wildly uncontrollable. That is why I'll begin to use Twitter, Flickr, and other focused services with which I hope to convince my friends to join.

Sure, Facebook facilitates many things all in one place, but they aren't great. The messenger sucks, the mail and photo albums are messy, the games are super lame, and there's an eerie loneliness in the cries to "be heard" by so many users. Despite my rantings, Facebook does have great networking advantages, but I would like something that motivates me to interact with the real world instead of keep me pinned in a digital representation of it. Facebook just seems to draw users to itself, and nowhere else.

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