By now, most if not all of us have interacted socially either through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. It has become highly unlikely that someone who has internet connection doesn’t at least have a Facebook account. My first experience with Facebook was back in 2006 when I had first entered the American University of Beirut. It was suggested to me by a fellow student, selling me the notion that it was the best way to connect with my friends at the university. For some reason, I became somewhat addicted to increasing the number of friends I had. At the time, it seemed like a way to show that I was well versed in befriending the endless number of friends I though I was going to need. Can I be more simple-minded? As my freshman year passed, Facebook was still integral to my perceived social “success” at the university, and it was increasingly gaining more of my time. The idea of creating groups for “If 1,000,000 people join this group (there was no like back then), I will run naked on the…” was one of the many trends that I experienced.
Facebook’s endless photos…
My next discovery with Facebook’s services was the photos. Again, to increase the social status, posting photos of where you got smashed last night seemed critical. Forgetting my camera then was like forgetting my phone now. At the moment, I could care less about having a digital camera. Spending time organizing and uploading my photos on Facebook became a normal part of my day. It was also a convenient way for me to share my photos with friends through the web.
Changing the way I used Facebook
By senior year, I saw my number of friends and photos increase, but did any of these things really define me as a person? Sadly, it did and I say sadly because none of those things really mattered. I had a few friends who were probably less flamboyant than me on Facebook, or friends who were more synthetic in their use of the social platform. They actively blocked people they didn’t know, deleting the useless “acquaintances” and fixing privacy settings so that their experience was greatly improved. I began to notice that these tweaks could improve my experience as well, more so that I could still be visible on a social network without compromising my personality “offline”.
Is there a way to use Facebook?
The point was not to be superficial. I did not want my life to be about the number of friends I have, or endless photos in nightclubs with people I don’t care about. I worked to become less visible. However, I was wrong in thinking most people would follow suit; in fact, most people were becoming more open with their lives on Facebook. In my opinion, the ideal situation for my current experience on Facebook is that I am relevant to a few close friends and that I am able to connect with long-lost contacts that really matter. I am still deciding how the road is going to be with the new iterations of Facebook. Stay tuned for more on this.