Facebook can be a great way to communicate stuff: you can check your TRIO Facebook page for announcements, activities we have scheduled, scholarships, assignments, and interesting items. It can be used to ask others questions about deadlines, times to show up for events, pass along information.
But what about when you use it to 'talk' to your friends? Is it really necessary?
How often do you check Facebook? Five times a day? All day long? It's easy, it's relaxing, it's fun...
And it can be a source of such anxiety!!
People got along without it for a very long time: Facebook was invented in 2004, which may be close to the year you were born....so it hasn't been around that long. It started as a way for college 'nerds' to rate girls in their college: A place where they had posted pictures of female students that they gathered from sorority membership rolls. It was, you see, a Book of Faces. Male students could log on and 'rate' how attractive they felt these women were.
And then, because the people who invented it became very aware how popular it was, how many people they could involve, it morphed until it finally became what it is now: a social media site where everyone and their dogs (and that's not an exaggeration) have pages at Facebook. It's handy to touch bases with people we know who live far away or who are traveling. We can share pictures and talk via Instant Messenger. In turn, Facebook bombards you with ads, inviting you to click and maybe buy something. This is how Facebook makes money: It is so popular, advertisers will pay top dollar to post their products on your page. Harmless, right?
Well... wait a minute.
Facebook also uses your data in these ways:
- To track what you buy online
- To track where you have 'gone' online, not only to FB--for 90 days at a time
- Things you post at FB that you call 'Public' are viewable to anyone: your profile picture and cover photo, your name, gender, and networks: all available through a search engine such as Google or Bing.
- Tagged photos of you can use that facial recognition to identify you in pictures not on FB
- Some of your personal data is shared with the government (The National Security Administration) even if you are not a criminal.
- Whatever information you give FB, they keep forever, whether you leave FB or not.
- Any picture you post, embarrassing or not, is there for many people to see and perhaps use against you.
- You have Facebook friends---and so do your friends, their friends, and friends of friends. Things you post can be seen by complete strangers. Try to keep that in mind with your posts and pictures.
- When you apply for a job, employers do check to see if you're on social media, and whether you post things they think are inappropriate, before they consider hiring you. Fair or not, they do this.
- Colleges will also check to see how you conduct yourself on social media. Admissions and scholarships might be affected by what they see.
People have allowed Facebook to get so important to them that they completely forget how to really interact with people. Staring at your phone as you walk is not an indication of being connected. Do you ever make phone calls anymore? Talk to people, really conduct a conversation? It is much different than typing a text message which may not even make sense, thanks to Autocorrect. Take a step back and think about your interactions on Facebook (and other social media):
- What about that person who posts things you really do not want to see? What about people who use Facebook as their personal political proclamation location? Or those who think it's their job to get religion to those of us who don't have an affiliation?
- What about cyberbullying using Facebook? Have you had this happen to you or someone you know? What is the impact of that, considering how important social media is to some people? http://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Bullying-on-Facebook
- Some statistics about bullying that might surprise you: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2294023/Facebook-worst-social-network-bullying-New-survey-shows-youngsters-targeted-online-else.html
- And do we really and truly want to see pictures of what someone is eating right now? I mean, I'm all for bacon mac and cheese but seriously...
- Do you 'check in' constantly? Don't you care that someone knows where you are practically 24/7?.
- Do you feel 'bad' if you don't have over a certain number of Facebook 'Friends'? There are actually people who are upset that you can 'only' list 5,000 people. This is, apparently, the way people feel like they're popular.
- If you think about it, though, out of the people you are 'Facebook Friends' with....how many do you really know, and how many have you actually met in real life? How many do you think of as close pals? And be honest, here. I'm going to guess that most of us actually know less than 25 people, really know them....and are close friends with possibly 4.
- What could be the danger of 'friending' everyone you ever encounter, plus friends of friends you don't really know? Some people do.
- Do you post videos you find interesting or amusing? Do you ever click on videos someone else has posted? Why or why not?
- Do you feel bad if nobody 'likes', comments, or shares something you have posted? Do you wonder what was wrong with it/wrong with you?
- Have you ever gotten into an argument with someone on your page, or in Messenger? How did that turn out? Did you find that meanings were misconstrued? That there was unintentional offending? Did you and your Facebook friend figure it out and make up?
- Or did you have to make that decision about un-friending?
- Why or why not did you un-friend someone, and what did that mean to you? Are you now also not friends in real life? Was it a serious situation? Has someone un-friended you? How did it feel? If you were involved in un-friending, did you then block the person, too? Why or why not?
- I have three points to make here: First, re-consider how much time you spend on Facebook. Try going without it for two days, then three, then a week, and see if you really crave it that much. Either way, think about why that is. A balance of real-life contact with people being your most frequent way to interact plus a few minutes here and there on Facebook could be a really good thing. Imagine not feeling like you "have" to check it on and off all....day.....long. That it is not the first thing you do in the morning, even before you have breakfast....and the last thing, last minute, before you go to bed. What if, rather than a daily habit, you checked in once every few days when you had nothing better to do? Here's a challenge: Don't even look at social media first thing in the morning. Wait. Like until mid-morning or at noon. Could you stand it?
- The second point is, be aware of how much you are sharing and the fact that virtually anyone can learn about you, whether it's complete strangers or the Facebook people through data sharing, for marketing or other reasons. Keep in mind that 'friends of friends of friends' can be looking at your page or your posts. Is that OK with you? If not, go to Privacy Settings and tweak it until it is secure enough to suit you. How much do you want to share with the entire internet? Assume everything you ever post is out there-be very cautious what pictures you share as well. Be restrictive about how much is viewable on your profile page: Do not make everything you post 'Public.' You can even alter your name a bit so you are harder to find in search, and you can block people so they can't even tell if you're on Facebook at all. You are allowed to do that, to protect yourself. Your 'Blocked' list should have a number of names on it, just to be on the safe side.
- My third point is connected to the first point: Your Facebook page is nothing more than that. It is a social media site, a program if you will, on your computer(s). It is not the measure of your popularity. It is not a must. It is not a need. Do you have friends in real life that are not even on Facebook? Are you less friends with them because of that? No. I didn't think so. And what does your page look like? Do you like the posts your 'friends' post, do you simply not care about some of them, and do some of them actually tick you off? Why are you still allowing them to be in your Friends list then? You 'own' your Facebook page. If you want to, you can do a number of things to control what it looks like: Hide things you don't like. Move someone from Close Friend to Friend to Acquaintance. Un-follow someone to see no more of his/her posts. Put that person on your Restricted list if you don't want them to see anything you post. If you don't know how to do these things, they're found in the Help section of Facebook. Or, again, just do a search online.
It's. Just. Facebook. Don't give it more power than it ought to have.