Status, profile, wall, like or unlike, and tag are famous words used by fans of new technology and all users of social media websites. The new technology is everywhere, and we are not wrong if we assume that new technology is our lifestyle and our future. Facebook is a new technology of social networking, and it is a website which allows people to virtually share information, pictures, aspects of culture or to stay up to date to what is happening around them or in the world.
In her article “Facebook as Popular Culture,” Lindsay Wolf claims “Facebook is a popular culture artifact that brings power and ability to different aspects of the world such as race, society, gender, popularity, and much more”(prezi.com). On Facebook, we all are equal no matter the race, nationality, skin color, social class, or gender. When we all log in, we get access to a common culture, named Facebook and to a new unimaginable but virtual world.
Accordingly to the Daily Telegraph newspaper, “ if Facebook were a country, it would be the third most populated country in the world, after China and India”(oxforddictionaries.com). Even though there are individuals who do not want facebook on their menu, it has become a popular taste for everybody across the globe allowing people to access it very easily, to keep-in-touch with one another, and be part of a new community.
Facebook has become popular by allowing people to access it from everywhere via the Internet. In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg, the creator, launched Facebook for Harvard students and later gave the chance of using cool social networking to other college students.
Facebook kept developing and finally opened to the global public except for the children under the age of thirteen. Luckily, Facebook is very convenient and easy to use since there is no need for special software. If you want to become an online Facebook citizen, open the Facebook website, fill in your name, a valid email address, very little personal information and you got the “citizenship.” Then, with just one click or a touch of the screen, you can get into a virtual world where you may feel to belong. Also, Facebook’s site is very well organized, so at first glance on the wall posts, you can see what is new in your friends’ life, what events are coming soon, exciting videos, and much more without affecting the necessary time for other essential activities. Moreover, it is not the case to struggle remembering people’s birthdays because Facebook took up some worries from our shoulders-by receiving alerts to announce us about these events. So, we can find everything very quickly and easily due to an efficient homepage design which allows us to go straight to new feeds, messenger, our profile, friends request, top videos, shortcuts, and to a plethora of exciting things to explore. Also, people can run Facebook through a cell phone, laptop, tablet, computer, smartwatch while traveling, staying in line to get a savorous coffee, waiting to see the doctor, during short breaks or vacations. According to Facebook (2014), there are 1.35 billion monthly active Facebook users, and 92% of SNS users are on Facebook (Hampton et al., 2011). I am one of those happy Facebook users whom almost every day enjoy it so that I can say “welcome to my life.”
Yet, some argue that being easy to use, people can pass the limit and abuse it. Being connected non-stop to Facebook, users will be tempted to spend a great deal of time looking to their friends’ pictures, writing comments, playing, listening to music, sending instant messages, so jumping from one page to another one and losing the notion of time. Day after day, exploring the virtual world can become a habit and then an obsession. People’s personal life starts to deteriorate from this point. In their article “Facebook addiction among university students in Turkey: Selçuk University example.”, Balci, Ş., & Gölcü, A, two experts in communication states “Facebook addicts display issues with friendships, family, work, and school environment. Addicts begin to spend less time with their friends, relatives or families, and stay home all day, activating on Facebook and being passive at the events that happen around them” (Balci & Golcu, pg. 2).We should admit this point of view because every day we all see people staying together without saying a word, but each of them with their eyes stick on their devices. Social media can be a trap for many, but let’s think about what Dr. David Buch, Chief Medical Officer of Carrier Clinic states:
“Ultimately, whether social media is “good” or “bad”/“healthy” or “unhealthy” for a person’s mental health and well-being is directly related to how they are used (or abused), by whom, and to some degree by who is passing judgment. Key to enjoying the benefits while avoiding the problems is to use these powerful tools sensibly, constructively, and in moderation.” (carrierclinic.org)
Facebook is a revolutionary answer to the need for human connections. If face-to-face interactions require some effort, extra time and money going out and traveling some distances to get together, the Facebook offers to its users the chance to stay at home in pajamas or laying in bed while connecting with people from all over the world. There are no geographical boundaries, so the impossible became possible in the Facebook context. This is my case since I’ve moved here to the United States, due to Facebook, I can keep in touch with my parents, relatives, and friends. For instance, I can send instant messages, holiday greetings, congratulations on birthdays so that I still feel very close to my family, friends, and acquaintances. Sometimes, we make video calls to see each other, and this great opportunity can alleviate my homesickness. Since the immigration phenomenon has bloomed, people were “forced” by the need for human connection to look constantly for new ways to keep in touch with their families and friends who may live thousands of miles away. Consequently, Facebook accomplished its mission to “make the world more open and transparent … by giving individuals greater power to share and connect” (Facebook.com, 2015a). Sometimes we need to talk to some people who understand us better than others; we need to see family members despite the long way distances; we need to know what is new in their life and let them know about us; we need to keep-in-touch with the love ones, so Facebook can satisfy our need for human connection. Moreover, in the article, “The World’s Biggest Salad Bowl: Facebook Connecting Cultures”, the author, Anne Schwab, doctor of philosophy and researcher in social psychology, emphasizes that ”Virtual contact may help people either to prepare themselves for everyday face-to-face encounters with members of different cultures or to maintain intercultural connections, which have been initiated via direct contact interventions”(Schwab, 244). In other words, Facebook is a robust social tool which encourage and strengthen online and offline social and intercultural relationships not only satisfy the human need to create and contact.
By the same token, we should be aware of Facebook can facilitate communication with strangers or new “friends” who may pretend to be something they are not. So, social networking can also ruin our life especially teens’. The users can create a perfect image of themselves by different messages or pictures posted while the reality can be hideous. After failures in online relationships, people may be afraid of new connections in real life and to isolate in society. It is not that easy to filter good and bad people in the online environment, but precaution and the balance between online and real life is the key to use this fantastic invention successfully. Erin Vogel, a doctor of philosophy and an expert in psychology, found out that actively communicating with friends on social media leads to positive outcomes for two causes. First, “having public conversations with friends creates the impression that the user is popular and well-liked, which increases life satisfaction. Second, “having a strong online social network can diminish the negative effects of social exclusion on well-being”(Vogel, 298). The same expert recommends us to spend time on social networking sites catching up with close friends as well as spending time on offline relationships to keep the balance of our healthy social life.
Facebook is the most popular online social network in the world, and people love it because it satisfies their needs of being part of a community even online. The expert in social psychology, Robert Kraut defined the online communities as “any virtual space where people come together with others to converse, exchange information or other resources, learn, play, or just be with each other”(Kraut, pg.1). The Facebook community had five hundred million in July 2010 ( Zuckerberg 2010) so that Facebook proves to be a powerful community which offers to its users the opportunity to share and learn information, and to get social support or entertainment. For instance, I remember my personal experience with Facebook. Everything started four years ago when I moved to the United States. In my country, I was an Elementary school teacher, and before moving to the United States, my former students made me promise that I will create a Facebook account to keep in touch with them with their parents. Little by little we all “Friended” on Facebook until we reformed the whole class but online. We talked a lot about the school, math problems, daily problems, and I tried to help them as much as I could even though I was at the other end of the world. Thanks to Facebook, the feeling of togetherness makes us happier.
Many people may be reluctantly talking about the online community because being part of an online is not the best option to satisfy our need for community. It is not natural to spend a great deal of time in an online community to the detriment of the real one. The online community is not built on affection and values that we encounter in the real one. In his book “The Virtual Community,” Howard Rheingold, an American writer, critic, and teacher states “we must pay for our access to each other by forever questioning the reality of our online culture”(Rheingold, 415). Consequently, the author encourages all citizens of online communities to think critically and question the reality of the content not taking everything for granted. We may agree with this opinion, but we also need to think outside the box and to enjoy the new technology in moderation and with precaution.
The new technology and social networking sites have brought a significant shift in the way friendships formed by using cell phones, blogs, instant messaging, iPads, video calls and emails. Millions of people around the globe love technology and especially Facebook due to its benefits like convenience, connectivity, and community. Maintaining a balance between our online and offline activities and relationships is healthy and good for our personal and social life. Let’s be responsible and make Facebook a blessing in our life!