Saturday, February 8, 2014

Facebook: Changing the World One Like at a Time

As many of you probably heard in the news earlier this week, Facebook just celebrated its 10th anniversary.  When I first heard this, I simply couldn't believe it.  It seems like yesterday when I was a freshman in college tinkering around with my new Facebook account.  In fact, I think I started college at the perfect time.  As a freshman in 2005, I was getting to know my campus and my friends at the very same time that Facebook was doing the same thing.

In the process of commemorating Facebook's 10th anniversary, I read several different articles on the topic and some of them really got me thinking.  Has Facebook really changed the way we interact with the world?  Or are we just wasting our time?

The first question is a hard one for me to answer.  As I said before I don't know post high school life and socialization patterns without Facebook.  From the time I started college, Facebook has always been there.  I suspect, though, that Facebook has changed the way we socialize.  You can more or less have a full and lasting relationship with someone on Facebook.  I actually attribute some of my longest friendships to Facebook.  I would not have been able to stay in touch with what was happening back home while I was in Uganda without Facebook.  And now, living in DC, I'm in a similar situation.  Not only do I share news and information with my distant and not so distant friends via Facebook, but I plan events and stay in tune with what is happening in the lives of people I may not have even seen in 5 or 10 years.  It's things like this that just blow my mind.

My second question pertains to whether we are just wasting our time using Facebook and spending so much time on it.  Despite the fact that one can waste a large amount of time on Facebook accomplishing nothing, if used properly Facebook can be a valuable tool.  I use Facebook these days mostly to get my daily news.  I have several news outlets with Facebook pages that I've liked and now I receive their news updates on my news feed.  I would say that about 70%-80% of my news feed is filled with actual news as opposed to pictures of a friends cat or homemade sushi rolls.

So overall, I feel that Facebook is useful, however, I do on occasion waste time on Facebook.  In 2004, I didn't know what Facebook was.  I wasn't even very familiar with the idea of social networking.  Now in 2014, I can't imagine life without Facebook.  It has become as ingrained in my daily lifestyle as my iPhone and my Kindle.

I've posted two articles here.  The first one is from the New York Times in 2004, speculating at the usefulness of Facebook just after it was created earlier that year.  The second is about how at its 10th birthday, Facebook is changing the role technology plays in many different arenas throughout the world.

On Campus, Hanging Out By Logging On

Facebook at 10: The World is a Social Network Now