Facebook ruined my life!

par Toula Foscolos

Admit it; if you're reading this week's column online, chances are you already checked your Facebook page today or are about to. This enterprising social network of online "friends" currently has more than 23 million members worldwide so the odds are you're among them. I'm not judging; I'm just as addicted as the next person.

My first impressions of Facebook were not that positive. I originally found the site lacking in colour and originality, but within a few weeks, I was hooked. Those strategically placed news feeds made it impossible to check my messages without instantaneously knowing what my "friends" were up to.

"Jen is counting down the days until her vacation to Cuba" Facebook informs me. I didn't know Jen was going to Cuba! "Harry is loving the new 'Harry Potter" book," it says. My God, I didn't even know Harry could read! The things you can find out on Facebook…

I mean, who knew that Linda's love life was complicated, that Lorraine is an atheist AND a Family Guy fan and Paul is attending the Tragically Hip concert. Why, if it weren't for Facebook, I wouldn't have a clue what my "friends" were doing at every minute of the day! I suppose I could <@Ri>ask<$p> them, but that would require time I simply don't have, what with constantly updating my photo album, my favourite quotes and my daily status.

Facebook has drastically changed the way we conduct our lives. This is the very first presidential election in U.S. history where the candidates have Facebook pages and where electoral issues are being discussed and analyzed in a number of groups all over the world. It's fascinating stuff!

Like all things in life, the way technology is used determines its merits. While I've used Facebook to my advantage, rediscovering classmates, strengthening long-distance friendships, perusing through friends' travel albums, staying updated on entertainment in my city and discussing issues with like-minded people, I also admit to wasting time on mindless chatter, silly wall graffiti and non-stop poke wars. It’s the innate human tendency to procrastinate…

When not in the mood to write or research, I'll find myself sending virtual tequila shots through cyberspace and joining groups like "When I was your age, Pluto was a planet" and "Damn you, Yoko. You broke up the Beatles, how do you sleep at night?" Yes, these are real groups; I'm not making them up.

Facebook and other social networks like My Space have truly redefined how we communicate and what constitutes community. On the one hand, it's fascinating to be a part of something so global and so immediate. The minute something occurs, there's a Facebook page on it.

On the other hand, cyberspace is a fake reality and sometimes creates false connections. There's a reason we didn't stay in touch with all our old high school friends…

"For all the talk about social networking bringing us closer together, essentially it atomises us. It enables us to step away from each other a bit more while giving the illusion of bringing us closer together," writes journalist Brigid Delaney in the Sydney Morning Herald.

As for the title, "Facebook ruined my life!" it's a cry uttered by my kid sister every time she prepares to go out to a social function and realizes a certain outfit is off limits because she was already tagged in it too many times. Ahhh, technology; it's a double-edged sword, isn’t it?

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