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Social Media is one aspect of technology that has recently taken the world by storm, affecting others’ lives as well as my own. One of the first and most influential texts I have ever encountered is the social media website Facebook. From this outlet of technology, I learned more about what was going on in the world and how people of all ages reacted to significant events and even led me to form my own opinions about the subjects. Facebook is also a very appealing website to me, allowing expression of one’s feelings and offering the ability to stay in contact with others. This social media giant has also become an addiction to my generation and has been allowed to define us in some ways. Although Facebook also has its disadvantages due to a lack of privacy and face-face interaction, all of these aspects of Facebook have impacted my life and the world as I have come to know it.
Facebook is a great way to gather knowledge about current events and a person’s reaction to them. One current event that recently appeared all over Facebook was the Zimmerman trial. Many of my friends would share reliable photos, articles, and videos about this event. It was a great way to gather knowledge about it and be able to form my own opinions and beliefs by reading about it. I was able to hear from people supporting either the defense or prosecution. On the other hand, Facebook is also able to restrict someone’s knowledge about what is actually going on. This type of restriction of information relates to Aristotle’s appeal of ethos. The definition of ethos is “convincing by the character of the author” (Carter, 2013). We sometimes believe what we read on Facebook because the person who posted it may have a reputation of being smart or popular. If we see a person with twenty likes on one of their statuses about the Zimmerman trail, we may believe it is more credible than the person’s status with only one like. Many people who have merely opinions with no facts to back it up with will post what they believe to be true on Facebook. Statuses like “I believe Zimmerman is not guilty” (Freitas) or “doesn’t it just fuck with your mental to think that George Zimmerman is just roaming the streets somewhere?” (Kang) coming from those whose only information is misinformation. In turn, one is now feeding off of incorrect information. Instead of taking the time to get the facts, one can now go by what he or she heard from “some girl on the internet.”
One way in which Facebook has appealed to me, is its allowance of expressing feelings or opinions and knowing that my peers on social media will actually hear them. When I was younger, I would post a status on Facebook at least twice a day. I could share that I had an awesome time hanging out with my friends or even let the boy I liked know, indirectly, that I was upset that he ignored me in class that day. Facebook made both of these possible. For some, I feel as if Facebook could make a loner feel as if he or she belonged to a group. A “like” or comment from someone could make a person feel as if another cared about what he or she was feeling. However, Facebook also has the ability to make a person feel extremely left out. For example if someone posts a status or photo and receives no likes, he or she could feel insignificant and excluded. Another way in which this website can be exclusive is with events. In order to save money on invitations, a person can make a Facebook event for his or her party. Often the person making this event will forget to make it private. The people who did not get invited can now see that they were not invited. The inclusive and exclusive nature of Facebook has to power to make or break a person’s day.
Another way Facebook has appealed to me is the ability to stay in contact with old friends while also meeting new friends. Facebook chat and groups have played a huge role in many of my friendships. For example, when I received my acceptance to Florida State University, a Facebook group for the class of 2017 was made in order to make friends and find a roommate. After posting my interests in the group, I received many responses from other girls who believed we would get along. This is how I found my three roommates. Without the accessibility to this group, I may have been paired with another girl who I would have hated or shared no common interests with. Staying in contact with my old friends is also greatly helped by Facebook chat. This way of communication is a great way to make plans quickly or even just check up with another friend to see how they are doing.
I believe we have all let Facebook and other social media sites alike become somewhat an addiction in our lives. We are constantly checking it, out of boredom or in awkward situations. I was one of the many people held captive under Facebook’s “spell” during my freshman and sophomore year of high school. I always checked my page to see if anyone posted anything on my wall, commented on one of my statuses, or even liked one of my pictures. I was able to keep up with the latest gossip by chatting with my friends or seeing what other people were posting. Facebook became a way for you to keep tabs on the people you liked or even the people you hated. An additional problem with this addiction was that it became a cosigner for people’s self esteem. Many girls started showing their cleavage or posting pictures of themselves in bikinis in order to receive more likes or gain more comments on their photos. Many forget that Facebook was a way to stay in contact with others, not to rise up to the top of the social ladder of society.
The Facebook I grew up with has evolved into a social media super power. After first making my Facebook, I would only go on after I got out of school to ask someone what the homework was or to look at one of my friend’s pictures. With the invention of smart phones, Facebook can now be checked constantly. It is downloaded quickly and easily accessible at any time in an app form. This easy access has made face-face interaction or even talking on the phone seem obsolete. Many of my friends say that Facebook chatting is way easier than picking up the phone and calling someone. I have even experienced times when I am hanging out with a group of people and every single person will be on their phone to update their status or look at a picture he or she is tagged in. This takes away from the time I would spend talking to my friend and turns into a type of “Facebook cult”.
Another way Facebook has transformed is in its ability to access so much information about another person. By making a Facebook account, one is sacrificing their privacy in some ways. One can learn a multitude of information about someone that he or she does not even know. For example, from looking at the pages or groups one belongs to, information can be gathered about what music he or she listens to, what sports he or she plays, or his or her hobbies. Many people do not know this, but when someone posts a picture on Facebook, Facebook now owns the picture. Nothing is yours anymore when you put it on the World Wide Web. The scary fact is that, due to the constant changes of privacy settings, many people can find your page and gather information you would not want them looking at. Spammers can find your email address or phone number. There have been countless times when I have gotten emails from fake Facebook accounts or texts from businesses not knowing how in the world they had received my number. This information access proves to have both its negative and positive advantages.
A positive way in which Facebook has influenced me is by sparking my interest in photography. Many girls and even boys use Facebook as a photography page or a way to promote their photography business. Many of my friends have made a lot of money by doing this or have gained exposure. After seeing so many people’s pictures, I wanted to take my own and be involved with this new hobby. This past Christmas, I asked for an expensive camera in order to be able to take awesome pictures; I received a Nikon D3100. I enrolled in a photography class at my school where I was taught how to use all of the functions on my camera. After going to parks, fields, and interesting places with my friends to take pictures, I realized that maybe the only reason I wanted to get involved with photography was for other people to see my pictures and to receive reactions to them. I wondered if I was the only one to see my photos, would this make me happy? This made me realize that many people only post pictures on Facebook in hopes of having others realize that they are having fun in their life and make others think that their life is not as great.
Everyone in the world has their different opinion on Facebook and uses it for varying reasons. Some believe that Facebook is useless while others’ worlds revolve around this social media. Although Facebook has its positives of keeping in touch with others, meeting new people, developing hobbies, expressing oneself, and gathering knowledge it also comes hand in hand with many negatives: giving up privacy, face-face interaction, and gaining unreliable information and a fake ego boost. One has to wonder if these trade offs are worth it. If we were to delete all of our Facebook accounts, would our lives change for the better or the worse?
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