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Facebook actually anti-social - The Red and Black : Opinion

Facebook actually anti-social

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Posted: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 12:00 am

"Can you spell your last name for me?"

Now that Facebook has taken over, this new line will be heard in bars all over Athens.

You'll only hear "Can I have your phone number" when people are trying to sound authentic in 8e's Bar - because that line is as extinct as Michael Jackson's career.

How do we explain the addiction to Facebook, a Web site that made its 24-year-old founder a billionaire?

When did it become normal to summarize our lives and validate our relationships based on one personal Web page?

I don't like where this obsession is going.

Meaningless connections have replaced genuine ones. Many users tell me it "helps you keep up with people." I think it simply keeps shallow relationships on life support.

That was apparent one April Fools' Day when I changed my birthday to April 1 and got 100 "happy birthdays" from "friends."

But I've been clean for 10 months now. I deactivated in December and haven't logged on since, even though I thought I had a pretty cool page.

I had my sex as female, my religion as First Presleyterian Church of Elvis the Divine and a bunch of clever little sarcastic quotes from famous people. I had posted all of the usual pictures of me rock climbing, at the beach and solemnly watching the sunset, all to impress women.

And to try to justify joining the site, I left my "about me" blank as a little protest against the tell-all nature of Facebook.

Then somewhere along the way, I got tired of it.

I realized trying to stuff my whole personality and life experience on a single Web page for people to judge was a strange way to spend my time. Now I'm out of the game, but my content isn't - Facebook owns it all, forever. It will live on in cyberspace, and could come back to haunt me at any time.

Perhaps I've forgotten the good things Facebook allows its users. For one, instead of finding the nerve to ask someone about her life, you just check her Facebook page.

And if you get dumped by your sweetheart, you no longer have to tell everyone you've ever met about your personal heartbreak. Facebook will do it for you. Then, perhaps a few people you haven't talked to in years will express their sympathy for you - through a genuine, personally typed Facebook message.

Facebook has more positives that I have to mention.

"Facebook activism" is taking over. It's great. Instead of walking out in the real world, and, say, getting physically active for a cause, you can click one finger in support.

Then you've joined an online group of people with a common interest. So what if the members will never actually meet? You're in a group now.

Another plus is that employers can judge you a lot easier when you put everything out there for them to see.

A lot of times they won't even burden you by asking you in for an interview, once they see your page.

I applied for a job last April and actually was asked by the interviewers why I didn't have Facebook. I gave them a short answer, but I wanted to say more.

I wanted to talk about how Facebook is a fantasy land of goofy pictures and meaningless banter, and too many people are getting lost in that make-believe world.

Too many people are under the illusion that on Facebook they actually are engaged in a community, when the truth is they are alone in a room and staring at a screen.

They think they've "talked" to somebody when they simply replied to a two-word wall post.

I say it's time to stop being anti-social and instead become anti-social-networking.

Deactivate now, and rejoin the real world.

- Marc McAfee is a senior from Kennesaw majoring in broadcast news.

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