Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Face Book or Facebook

Week three

Networking or making friends and keeping in touch with them has been a part of our lives from a very young age. We first learnt how to make friends then how to keep in contact with them. The ideal of making friends and keeping in contact with them has not change but the means to do so has changed over the years. Before Friendster or Facebook, we relied on technologies such as telephones to keep in touch with one another. Some even wrote letters and postcards that they will mail to one another to keep in contact. When I was in primary school, there was a hype at one point where we would keep pretty little journals in which we get people to write a bibliography about themselves. It contains the basics such as our name, age, date of birth (abbreviated to  D.O.B) and some other details such as what we like to eat, our favourite movies, our favourite shows, our favourite books, etc. 

This is an example of one such journal that I have kept over the years. back when there was no Friendster or Facebook, this was how I kept the information of my friends and what i turned to when  I wanted to keep in contact with them. This is equivalent to the 'About' section that we have now, on out Facebook profile. The information that it asked for are also the same as those on the 'About' section. The typical name, age, birthday and so forth.

Of course, these days, young kids do not have such a journal anymore. Why would they? Everything that they need is easily accessible on Facebook. You do not need to bring a book to school and ask someone to fill it in while you seat there and wait for them. Wanna know more about a person? Add them on Facebook. How hard is touching a few icons right?

Back then there are letters and notes that we write to one another to keep in touch or calls we place to see how the other person is doing. When I was in primary school, we wrote notes to one another to 'be in the loop'. We pass them around in class or to one another after school and would reply to them and pass it back another time. If it was during class time, it was a challenge not to be caught by the teacher. I think the scariest thing to hear when you are sneaking a note to your friend was 'what are you doing? Hand me that note" and you see the teacher coming towards you all stern and angry. That was terrifying.

But then something happened and we could send each other testimonials to keep in touch with one another. That was what friendster offered us. There was no more paper or pen and there was no more trying to sneak notes to one another during class. All of us went home and type long testimonials to one another over the internet. That became how we maintain friendships outside of face to face conversations. We send testimonials to one another for all sorts of reasons. We even send e cards to one another during birthdays and what not.

When facebook showed up, there was even poking that could be sent online to one another. I know someone who would poke this other person over facebook and the other person would poke back and this would continue the whole day. Just poking and nothing else. This was how they communicate to one another and maintain their friendship, or progress their friendship. Besides poking, Facebook offers other features like status updates and sharing of photos and videos and 'emotions' in the form of emoticons. In many sense we no longer have to physically pick up a phone and call someone to let them know how we feel and/or tell them something that happened. We can do this digitally, and share it with everyone in our network. Everyone that are our friend can see how we feel, what we have been doing and so forth without having to be told.

And that leads us to the problems with our current form of social networking. In the past, we have to deliberately make an effort to keep in touch with people in our social network. We have to take the time and effort to call someone, to write down their contact details and make an effort to stay in the loop on the going ons in our friends' lives. Comedy dramas such as How I met your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, Rules of Engagement, Friends, all show friends gathering at one location and sharing their happenings and lives. Although not everyone actually meet everyday and talk to one another, but this was what we did in the pass. We make an effort to sit down and talk to one another, write to one another or call one another. There was a more human-ish approach to keeping in touch. And we know who is at the receiving end of the information.

These days, we scroll through our news feed to see what other people are up to. We know roughly what everyone are up to without having to even say a word to them. I know where some of my secondary classmates are in the world without even having to talk to them or meet up. And this is all because of the power of Facebook and sharing. I know who is dating whom, who is doing what, who is studying what not because I talked to them or heard it from someone but because I tapped an icon on my phone and an application popped open with post after post of feeds telling me all these. Personally, I feel that this is a rather cold way of keeping in touch. There is human telling me what happened or no painstakingly written letter address to me to tell me all these. Just technology and the internet. This new technology has one flaw which, I feel, people should understand. Some people treat Facebook as their personal dairy and chronically post their daily happenings and moods on it. I know people like that and sometimes, I personally get annoyed because their posts keeps showing up. And its not short posts too. Its really long ones that summarises their day. I have taken the step to 'unfollow' their posts on Facebook. I have done this for pages that I have liked as well as they constantly spammed my news feed with very irrelevant information.

For those who wanna do the same but do not know how to (Although I suspect most people knows how):
1) go tho the person's page.
2) hover your pointer above the friends icon on the cover photo
3) A drop down list would appear. Uncheck 'show in news feed'
4) TADA!
its the same for pages that you have liked. Instead of the friend icon, its the liked icon.

Although to be fair, the new and 'improved' way of keeping in touch has its perks. For one, it allows for people to keep a larger group of friends. With social networking sites, we can maintain in contact with people from our past that we do not really see anymore and at the same time still know what they are up to. This can have great benefits such as job opportunities. With social networking sites as Facebook, we can keep up to date with where everyone is working at and if need be, we can ask for help on getting a job at a company that someone in our friendlist is working at. We can also look out for people that are in a particular field that we currently require. Say we need to film a video for a project and we know someone on our friend list who always upload home made professionally done videos. We could seek out their help in making a video for our project. Another benefit to social networking sites is that because people post what they are up to and what they are doing and stuff on it, if an awkward conversation ever comes up when you bump into that person outside, you can use the information you got on Facebook to make the conversation less awkward. Like 'Oh I saw that you went to Japan on Facebook that day. How was the country?'

Social networking has not change. But how we go about doing it has, From making calls and writing mails to scrolling through news feed, the way we have keep in touch with people has changed over time. There is no right or wrong way to social network. Both the traditional and modern form of social networking has its perks and its flaws. 

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