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TAKE MY PICTURE FACEBOOK, I WANT TO BE A STAR

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One of the greatest appeals of Facebook is that it has feeds our desires to become a part of the popular scene. Facebook makes it so easy to do this. The capabilities of censoring our photos so we look our absolute best, having our birthdays reminded to every person in your Facebook world (not to mention feeling loved when you receive 50 notifications on your birthday) and also with the advent of the Newsfeed, we become like celebrities and find ourselves chasing this ‘fame’, it becomes a drug. The most disturbing aspect of Facebook is how everything is essentially measurable. I can measure my ‘fame’ by the amount of friends I have, or the amount of daily notifications I get, the amount of party photos I am ‘tagged’ in or perhaps even the amount of attractive boys or girls I have commenting on my personal wall.
Eventually whether we intend it or not, we find ourselves compulsively comparing our status to others and making sure we maintain a level of Facebook stardom. As ridiculous as it sounds, we even fall into the trap of investigating the Newsfeed. For example, you’ve just seen that your ex-boyfriend (who you don’t even care about anymore) has changed his relationship status from “Single” to “In a Relationship with Sarah Jones”. So naturally you click on the link to Sarah Jones and wonder is she hotter than me? Depending on which way it swings you cannot deny that Facebook has elicited real emotions that otherwise wouldn’t have been there, and it borders on ridiculousness, because you wouldn’t have cared anyway. If she is hotter you may even start to detest the both of them, and wonder why you even have them on your friend list anyway. Or better yet you’re the more attractive girl and for reason you feel some satisfaction from this, a kind of victory so to say.
It becomes clearer and clearer then, that Facebook world is a shallow one with everyone being in the ‘public eye’, involuntarily encouraging a self-indulged pursuit to validate our self worth and popularity. A desire so strong we find ourselves wasting time on stalking our ‘friends’, refreshing the Newsfeed and trying to find out how famous we really are.

Become a Facebook Star

"Become a facebook Star"

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FRIEND REQUESTING AND PILLOW FIGHTING

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The overall design of Facebook is such that it intends to cultivate a network of friends. But in many ways the request of a friend becomes less to do with a genuine interest in maintaining a healthy friendship and more to do with curiosity for self-validation and social voyeurism. An excellent example is the primary school classmate who ten years later, tracks you down on Facebook and sends you a friend request. By some unwritten obligation it seems you are compelled to click “Accept” or maybe it’s the fact that you’re curious also (Hmm.. I wonder if he or she is successful and whether or not they grew up to be attractive) What many of us fail to realize is everyone pretty much thinks the same thing, and that helps to flourish a shallow culture of Facebook friendship.
The social etiquette thereafter, is to effectively inform this forgotten ‘friend’ about the entire happenings of your life from the days that primary school ended to the current circumstances you are in now, and you are expected to ask them the same question. And then that’s it, you are officially friends by the Facebook threshold. Most likely it will end with the one of you not being bothered to reply anymore and you are left reading the Newsfeed about what lunch they had or how badly they hate public transport. And honestly you don’t even care anyway.
The whole guise of social interaction that Facebook professes has become somewhat gimmicky with the advent of such notifications like a past acquaintance ‘has hit you with a pillow, click here to hit him/her back, if you don’t hit him/her back within two days – you lose the pillow fight’. It almost borders upon a desperate ridiculousness, like almost to say sure, cyber pillow clicking has truly become a meaningful source of social interaction. I mean that person who hit me with a pillow is my friend after all.

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A MISLEADING LIST OF FACEBOOK FRIENDS

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One of the most amazing and most attractive aspects of Facebook is it’s ability to distort what is real to us. If Facebook suggests that we 500 friends, then in relation to another Facebook user who only has 100 friends – by a technical right we are more ‘socially rich’ and therefore more popular than they are. Despite being unintentional or rather subconscious, such thoughts do come to mind for most Facebook users. As a generation of image obsessed people rampant with social insecurity, Facebook literally offers the cure for these insecurities. Achieve your goal of getting 1000 Facebook friends and suddenly you feel a lot better about yourself.
Eventually though, we fool ourselves and it’s only a matter of time before we see our list of friends merely being a misleading guise to re-represent ourselves as sociable people. It calls to mind the tendency of social networking sites to direct future generations into a world deprived of true social interaction instead to be replaced by a vacuous list represented by a certain number of friends.
I’m sure though for a minority, the ‘friend list’ truly does reflect that which it intends, a network of friendship. However for most us, ‘the friend list’ has become a façade, a endless list of broken relationships, past acquaintances and fellow voyeurs – and I can’t help but wonder how healthy our ability or our children’s ability to maintain meaningful relationships are. Or has that meaningfulness been replaced to a mere exchange of wall messages and photo comments.

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PARENTAL AWARENESS

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One of the greatest problems associated with the public platform that Facebook essentially thrives upon, is the lack of supervision and moderation, particularly for unassuming minors. This lends to several other issues such as sexual predation over the internet, and with the advent of the Facebook culture, retrieving information and being able to hide under the guise of a Facebook profile makes a minority of the Facebook userbase susceptible to such dangers like sexual predators.
No doubt, the majority of the Facebook userbase is primarily categorized under the teenage demographic. Many parents like their children are unaware of the risks involving with signing up to Facebook which makes it more dangerous. Without adequate education and precaution by parents, schools and other institutions regarding safe and responsible use of social networking platforms especially Facebook, then we are effectively putting our children at risk of real world encounters with these people.

The nature and design of Facebook is such that it escalates virtual reality relationships to real life encounters, and when unchecked young teenage girls especially may find themselves agreeing to meet up next Saturday to a potentially dangerous situation.

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ADMISSION AND EMPLOYABILITY

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It is becoming more and more common for universities, professional institutions as well as employers seeking potential employees to surf the social networking sites for a supplemented evaluation. This is an explicit connection between the world of Facebook and reality, and whilst the representation of ourselves in the virtual world isn’t the necessary translation of our real world identities, an evaluation is warranted nonetheless because they are going to rummage through your profile if you haven’t set the privacy settings correctly.
And perhaps our misrepresentation of ourselves as overly flamboyant party people who binge on alcohol complete with over-sexualised profile pictures isn’t necessarily the most effective way of putting your best foot forward should an opportunity open up in the real world. In fact, UK Telegraph commented that: “Bosses are now using the popular social networking site as a tool to double check how likely it would be that their new worker would take a sick day for being hungover or on drugs the night before. And job seekers were being found out for lying about their qualifications, with employers checking their Facebook pages to see if their online details matched their resume.”

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PRODUCTIVITY SINK AND ADDICTION

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With all the attractive features of Facebook and it’s ability to cater to almost every person in the population, through its many applications such as Poker, its potential as a dating supplement, the ease of stalking and it’s brilliance as an a event organizer it becomes very easy to become addicted to Facebook, to the point of obsessive compulsion.
A compulsion characterized by waiting and refreshing the home page waiting for a notification flag, joining hundreds of Facebook groups, inviting others to play “Farmville” or the habitual logging into Facebook 3 or more times daily to see who has talked to you or commented on your newly uploaded photo. For employees and students respectively Facebook becomes a serious distraction and results in a dramatic drop of productivity with its entertainment appeal and escapist qualities.
It becomes somewhat destructive in the common case where people are willing to maintain their Facebook identities and placing priority for it over their own real world commitments such as work and study.
In fact Reuters.com stated, that in a survey completed by Internet security SurfControl that: “Workers surfing the Internet social networking site Facebook could be costing their employers billions of dollars in lost productivity, an analysis by an Internet security firm said on Monday. Facebook is the latest Internet networking craze, with more than 230,000 Australians already signed up and reports of more than 100 new users every hour.”

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FACEBOOK VALUE AND POWER

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There is no argument that the lines of virtual reality and reality have been further blurred with the expanse of Facebook and its growing users. It has literally come to a point where the elaboration of an event on Facebook has become more significant than the actual event itself. For example, a real world occurrence isn’t nearly as memorable or as meaningful until it has been recorded on Facebook, through an uploading of a photo, complete with tags and comments from the virtual community.
Within the highly customizable world of Facebook we are unintentionally Gods within our own rights as our profile is inherently our own as we are granted the power to dictate almost everything. Because we attach a certain level of realism to the virtual reality of Facebook, our self-deification is magnified. Through the capabilities of deleting posts and comments, effectively we have the power to delete history. With the power to ignore friend requests and delete friends, we involuntarily say who’s allowed in my world and who gets erased – it’s a highly powerful form of personal censorship.
And that’s a major selling point of Facebook: the ability to relive and place greater value on events in our lives, and also the power to create our own censor our own world.

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MONITOR ME BECAUSE I’M MONITORING YOU

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Facebook can tends to exhibit the purest forms of superficiality, in the respect that it allows for an evaluation of other peoples real world worth based on upon a virtual platform. Involuntarily, many of us Facebook users whether it be due to self-anxiety or sheer boredom find ourselves stalking our ‘friends’ and monitoring their activities in order to evaluate them.
Subconsciously then, we tend to evaluate our own self worth in relation to our ‘friends’, and essentially this is a great issue for many Facebook users. The comparison and keeping score with ‘friends’ become a superficial fight in itself because Facebook isn’t a picture perfect translation of the real world, but for many it is the closest thing to it – so generally we accept there to be a universal connection between the worlds of Facebook and reality, however arbitrary such a connection may be.
Our generation is an immediate product of the corporate world and the media influx. We at a age young are fooled into believing we’ll become something spectacular, amazing or beautiful and when we realize that more often than not, it wont happen – we become existentially frustrated with ourselves. The great reason as to why Facebook is so amazingly popular and inherently addictive is because it allows us to escape the sad reality and recreate our own world where we can re-represent ourselves as beautiful.

Thus Facebook becomes a medium in which we can emulate the icons glorified in the media, and we use this virtual reality to fool ourselves into believing our own construction. Not only that, we use our ‘friends’ as a motivator to further heighten our Facebook status eventually plunging us deeper and deeper into the Facebook world – to the extent that we begin to want others to monitor us, because we are monitoring them. It becomes a world of celebrities chasing fame.

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THE SHALLOWNESS OF FACEBOOK

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With the incredible amount of ‘friends’, the instantaneousness of messaging and the uploading of hundreds upon hundreds of photos of a single person, the Facebook world becomes a social event in itself. It becomes so easy to fabricate ourselves behind the monitor and manufacture a socially acceptable image of ourselves, and as for those who don’t join the Facebook bandwagon we find something to be wrong with them as a virtual community. I’m sure you all have that idle friend who you are trying to convince to join Facebook because ‘they’re missing out on all the good stuff’. But what about everything else?
The nature of Facebook as a sole networking tool is essentially a shallow platform which falters in maintaining meaningful relationships. For many, it becomes a childish messaging game to attract the opposite sex, profess love through relationship status’ and consequently even judge others upon something as ridiculous as a profile picture.
The whole ‘random add’ concept wherein a person randomly adds another person is a testament to shallow culture that Facebook tends to encourage unintentionally (automatically they become ‘friends’.) The act of ‘randomly adding’ is often a subtextual method of introducing yourself to someone because you think they look attractive in their profile picture. I mean, why else you would you want to add a perfectly random stranger for anything other than sexual escalation? To put it simply, Facebook involuntarily fosters a shallow culture where people are reduced to a profile picture with a few side notes.
And the most distorted aspect of this is that these people have distorted themselves in a means to become more socially attractive, and so immediately cultivating a shallow, shallow culture.

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SEXUAL PREDATORS AND BULLYING

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With the incredible ease of accessing images and information on users, social networkers automatically become more susceptible to online sexual predators. This also coincides with over-sexualisation of Facebook profiles. The amount of teenage girls especially, who post sexually suggestive images of themselves which when combined with the public platform of Facebook voyeurism creates a favourable environment for sexual predation. It’s already happening. Alarming TechCrunch.com reported that: “MySpace is in the spotlight today because it revealed that 90,000 registered sex offenders have been kicked off its site in the past two years. But where did all of those sex offenders go? Some evidence suggests that a portion of them are now on Facebook.”
Also, cyber bullying has also become an issue with social networking tools like Facebook and can have several psychological implications especially on younger Facebook users such as depression. ReadWriteWeb.com stressed that: “Thirty-two percent of online teens have experienced some form of harassment via the Internet, a problem also known as “cyberbullying.” According to recent data, 15% of online teens have had private material forwarded without permission, 13% have received threatening messages and 6% have had embarrassing photos posted without permission.”

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