‘It’s cool, like.’ That was the general consensus amongst friends when I first decided to do a bit of research into why the social networking giant had become so popular and lovable by asking them what they found attractive about it. Surely we can all agree that Facebook is pretty f’n cool, but beneath the surface what actually lures us in?
A lot of people, myself included, believe that it gives you the opportunity to express yourself as an individual. You are just this one URL in a sea of over 800 million users and the only thing that distinguishes you from the next similar named person on the search bar is what you make of your profile. By this I mean what you post on your wall, what profile picture you use, how many friends you allow yourself to have, and what you choose to “Like”. I am a firm believer that a lot can be discovered about someone by his or her Facebook page, most of us know this sneaky technique all to well as Facebook Stalking. No seriously it’s true though, before a night out your all having predrinks in someone’s house, the tunes are blaring and the MacBook is open with that lovely alluring blue screen staring back at you. Then suddenly from the back of the dimly lit crowded room a familiar voice shouts, “His girlfriend is going? Who is she? Sure wack her up on Facebook there and we’ll have a gawk at her.” It’s your time to shine, you type your friends name into the search bar with childish anticipation of discovering something hilarious about his girlfriend that you can slag him about at the bar later on. You find him, have a giggle at his sappy profile picture of the two of them together and proceed to click on the section that displays who he is “in a relationship with” and all of a sudden, you’ve made it, your at the holy grail. From her photos and her likes you can more or less decipher the amount of slagging your friend is going to get later on. Mission accomplished. I should also mention that girls do this just as much, if not more with regards to their friend’s boyfriends.
There are of course practical and useful applications of having a Facebook, such as keeping in touch with friends and family that live far away. For this example lets use the older generation of Facebook users… the parents! Now before I go on I must say that neither of my parents have Facebook. Although that being said there was a time when my mother did have it but not for long, as soon as that friend request came through I knew there was a problem. I glanced at her page, saw the miserable 6-7 friends with the same WASHU network and thought to myself ‘decline’. Ultimately it wasn’t the rejection from my brother and I that coaxed my mom into committing Facebook suicide, it was the fact that she was getting friend requests from students she had taught years ago, I tried to explain that this was the new way of keeping in touch and up to date with new research ideas they may have, she just said “that’s what LinkedIn is for”. Is she right? To a certain extent yes of course, adding your old professor for the laugh is a little inappropriate but adding your old professor to keep in touch with them may be applicable. Either way she didn’t understand the fundamental difference between LinkedIn and Facebook, the social aspect. I am sure many of your parents have Facebook pages, a quick gander through my friends list confirms this hypothesis, and I am also sure you all have mixed opinions of weather or not they should have Facebook pages. Facebook is a cheaper and extremely efficient way of keeping up to date with old friends and sharing new stories with them, this is why our parent’s generation seems to love Facebook so much. Facebook as a marketing guru has somehow managed to stretch out its product’s target audience so that it basically covers every base except the ages of 0-13. Genius.
Another undoubtedly useful application of Facebook is it’s amazing powers of persuasion and promotion. Everyday most of us will get an event notification for some club night or party, in the case of my Facebook it’s generally from fucking Midnight Events and the event poster will usually be some disgusting illustration of what happens on those nights. Sick. There is no doubt in my mind that promoting an event via the means of the most powerful social networking monster on the planet will strengthen attendance margins and reinforce financial success, but that doesn’t mean that every Tom Dick and Harry has to call themselves a “promoter”. Every day I get requests from people with names like “MaryMcDonngh-Hagan-Byrne Dandelion Promoter”, and I cannot hit decline quicker, they are literally the parasites of Facebook, plaguing your page with unwanted posts about the cheaplist and how there is going to be loads of birds there. But when the promotion is done correctly it works a charm. Any of the lads from Ents will tell you that there are quite specific techniques of introducing a new night on Facebook, such as getting the naming right, to having a class poster and the right wording for the drinks promos, and the most important thing is having as many people as possible “Attending” because then it becomes a domino effect, “Omg like if she’s going we defffoo have to go” and so on.
What about the downsides to Facebook? Well for one, it is addictive, very addictive. I really don’t think that anyone can disagree; I mean it becomes part of your daily routine just the same as any other addiction such as cigarettes or exercise. How many people can remember life before Facebook? Lots will probably think to themselves, of course I can but I want you to really think hard about it, what did you use to do with your spare time? In a discussion about this article a friend recently said that he used to be a lot happier before Facebook, when he “didn’t have to know what was going on with everyone’s life’s everyday.” He is right in a sense, we are now engrained to the fact that the stories of our own social life are no longer interesting enough for us and we rely on the lives of our friends to amuse us. Facebook, who is constantly gazing at us from the other side of the computer screen, is the mutual friend that we all share.
Perhaps that is the real reason why we love Facebook so much.