I was peer pressured into creating a Facebook account. I succumbed to the blue and white Web site, with all of its status updates and news feeds 16 months ago. What started out as fun and easy is now not so easy.
The process of posting pictures, uselessly poking people and accepting or ignoring friend requests hasnâ€™t changed. Whatâ€™s shifted is the way I think about Facebook.
More than 200 million people have an account on the social networking site and while the majority of our profiles will never be viewed by that many people, the ever-increasing number of friends we accept have full access to our relationship status, favorite music and all things â€œabout me.â€
With that realization, Iâ€™ve started to become self-conscious about my Facebook image. In addition to thinking about my physical appearance, I now think about how my profile appears. Itâ€™s kind of ridiculous, I know. But why give any thought to the things we write in those info columns and the pop culture artifacts we post on the Web site? I think, because they say something about us, and more importantly, we choose them for what they say.
As a result, it changes the way we look at things, or at least the way I do. There is now a Facebook scale of liking or disliking items. For better or worse, itâ€™s a new way to judge if I enjoy something. Is this (insert object a, b or c) profile worthy? And more importantly, is it how I want to look to the outside world? Are these the things I want to appear to be interested in?
In other words, many more people are listing â€œEternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mindâ€ in their favorite movies column rather than â€œGlitter,â€ and â€œTo Kill a Mockingbirdâ€ over â€œTwilightâ€ as their favorite book.
Whether itâ€™s a music video that is absolutely repulsive or a New York Times article that is witty and insightful, both are posted on profiles for criticism or for praise and as a chosen reflection of that person.
A common facet of Facebook is the posting of favorite music, YouTube videos and lists of movies you have or havenâ€™t seen. The site is full of applications and quizzes related to entertainment, all encouraging users to express themselves in terms of pop culture and thus, brand themselves with it.
I frequently post music that I legitimately like, but do so for several reasons. Usually the tunes are by relatively unknown bands that could use the publicity, but also because I get the benefit (in my mind) of being on the bandâ€™s bandwagon early on. Again, Iâ€™m expressing myself through pop culture and relaying a preferred image of myself.
The question I keep asking myself though is, is it worth all of this? Does the so-called â€œsocial networkingâ€ Web site warrant this much thought? Is Facebook becoming more of a source of stress than solace? Between the massive amount of photos people post and the jealousy that incites because my life isnâ€™t the kind to produce hundreds of Kodak moments, I wonder if Facebook inflames the feelings of fun or failure.
And lastly, in the hundreds or thousands of Facebook â€œfriendsâ€ people have and the quantification of popularity that suggests, has it become something to look forward to or something to worry about? In the countless hours Iâ€™ve spent commenting on posts, replying to messages and liking things with thumbs up, itâ€™s started to feel like a jobâ€¦one without pay.