Saturday, October 27, 2012

Facebook Nation

This time it’s personal virtual

From the Fast Food Nation, to the Facebook Nation, it seems as if our world is slowly but steadily being shaped by a small number of major players. These players act as if they are providing services we, as a modern society, simply cannot live without. From constant photo updates from friends and acquaintances, locations, and statuses, social networking is no longer an accompaniment to traditional socializing, it IS the socializing. More and more people turn to sites such as Facebook to fulfill their social desires. Want to catch up with your high school friends? No need to call to ask them what they've been up to, simply log onto their page and check out their recent pictures. Met a cute boy in class? Check him out on Facebook to see who his friends are, what his interests are and whether he seems available. These social networking sites cut out a whole part of the social process: the getting to know you phase. There's no more intrigue or suspense. As Lori Andrews puts it in Facebook Nation being judged is the price you must pay. 

While being judged is a price most people must pay for living in the type of society we do, the difference on Facebook is WHO you are being judged by. There are two categories of judgers: people who judge you to see if you would be a good fit for them (universities, jobs, potential relationships), and people who judge you in order to sell you things (advertisers, companies). Advertisement is now a unavoidable aspect of Facebook, and as the process gets more and more customized, users should begin to ask themselves when does it cross the line? For many people the line has been crossed already and a demand for a system of control over social networking sites has started. If privacy really is an integral part of our society and our rights as individuals in a democratic nation then it’s time for Government to step up and make sure that our privacy is something they protect. Facebook might appear to be a platform dedicated to strengthening social ties and nations, but in reality computer engineering and data collection (i.e. profit making) are the two forces that dictate Facebook’s policies. Should Facebook be subject to constitutional constraints or would those constraints be unconstitutional?

4 comments:

  1. In agreement with Alexia, Facebook offers numerous services related to social networking, gaming, and engagement to products. I don't know if I am stretching a little far on this, but it seems that Facebook offers us many choices and we think that we have many choices of activities on Facebook yet there are hidden costs, such as our information and privacy being dragged into a pool of candidates for marketers to use: it reminds me of Antonio Gramsci a little bit, in the fact that we "think" that we have choices yet we actually do not, and that there are hidden motivation behind the things that we think are under "our" control. I stopped logging on to Facebook, and I now log on only about once every two weeks. This definitely cuts into school work as well, because my friends and school organizations on Facebook use its services to let me know about upcoming events, group study sessions, where I end up missing them because I did not log onto Facebook.This really frustrates me, the fact that I need to make Facebook part of my life to get going in life. Once the advertising component of Facebook became too overbearing for me, I had to stop logging on Facebook. One of my friend also stopped using Facebook because she could not help "stalking" others, compared herself to others, and felt bad about herself and where her life is going. She told me that it seemed like everyone's lives are so amazing, going places, eating good food, getting good jobs, and having an amazing social life. She constantly compares herself to others around her by stalking them but she cannot see that others also work for living, have sadness in their lives, and numerous other events that Facebook cannot show us. We only see the happy, good things in people's lives on Facebook. We do not see the deeper and emotional aspect of our lives. We see the surface level of things, in neat little digitized boxes, a summary of events, people's lives, where we ate lunch at, and even for fundraising for a good cause. If we "like" it, then does it really mean that we support breast cancer and that we did something about it? I think not. I see another tool for furthering social distance with Facebook, like self-checkout stands in stores. Interactions are missing human components of voice, face expressions, touch, physical presence, and aura of another person being next to you. So are interactions becoming meaningless? Not completely, in that people are able to connect to others far away and otherwise having difficulty seeing one another, but is it necessary for people who are so close yet we consider ourselves so "busy" that we do not make the time to see each other yet constantly update our status throughout such a busy day?

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  2. A thoughtful post, Alexia, and an equally thoughtful comment, Yelynn. Isn't it funny that we never really discussed voluntary withdrawal as a component of the knowledge gap? If you are someone who has access to the most informative and up-to-date media but chooses, for moral or personal reasons, to abstain from participation, do you fall behind, as Yelynn suggests? Do you think it is the responsibility of information providers to share information across multiple channels, or do old ways eventually go the way of analog TV, rotary telephones, and the like?

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  3. I was originally going to write a comment about Facebook and advertising, but I think I'll take a stab at Alenda's questions first. I have had friends who swore off Facebook for a variety of reasons, and without an exception they "fall behind" in information about friends, family, social gatherings, and even news events. While this is unfortunate on many levels, I don't think it is the responsibility of information providers to share information across multiple channels, especially if these information providers are "normal" people like you and me. Normal news outlets, advertisers, politicians, etc. do make efforts to reach across multiple channels, if only to reach as broad an audience as possible. But for our routine, everyday activities, the effort to do so can be both inconvenient and frustrating. No one is ever pleased when a member of their group for a group project announces proudly that he is not, in fact, on Facebook and does not own a gmail account. It forces everybody to bend over backwards to reach this semi-off the grid member. As far as I'm concerned, I believe it to be the responsibility of those who choose not to consume media like Facebook to at least have a foot in the door, so to speak - have a Facebook page but keep it inactive until you need it. Or create a gmail account so you can still join your group to edit Google Docs when needed. I do realize my opinions sound rather intolerant, but too many bad experiences with faulty communications in group projects have undoubtedly made me a bit bitter.

    Now for a bit on Facebook and advertising. The Andrews reading cast advertisers in quite a menacing light, but I'd like to play devil's advocate. As Alexia pointed out in her post, Facebook advertisements are becoming more and more customized and at some point it may feel that they have crossed a line. But as someone who is politically active, passionate, and even an employee at a political consulting firm, I'd just like to point out that at least when it comes to political advertisements, most people enjoy seeing ones tailored to their preferences. I for one would be most displeased if I saw Mitt Romney ads all over my Facebook (no offense to any Romney supporters out there). The data that Facebook provides to companies like the one I work for allows us to create ads and target them at those who are most receptive - most likely to like, share, comment, etc. Not only does this save money for the company (remember, not all companies are massive ones like Apple that have billions of dollars to spend - us small companies need to advertise too), it also pleases the consumers. Though I hardly enjoy being accosted by ads in any media setting be it Facebook, TV, or billboards, the ads that bother me the least are the ones I agree with or ones that advertise products I appreciate.

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