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Recently there was a new episode of South Park that premiered on Comedy Central. It was centered on the nonsensical addiction to Facebook. The character Stan is forced unwillingly into creating a behemoth account, which develops a mind of its own and asks him, “Which is more powerful? The user, or the profile?” A thought-provoking question.

From what I’ve seen, a majority of the time spent on a weekday night by teens and tweens is devoted to Facebook. But, hey, who doesn’t admire this website? It’s like an instant messenger with the works. Arguably, it’s more formal than an instant messenger, because you can “host” topical discussions. You can also post pictures and video clips, and update your profile with any exciting news:

“had lasagna for dinner. chem homework is hard. lol, idk what happened to my iphone but its broke now.”

The thing about Facebook: it wasn’t really meant for our use. It was developed for parents who have long-distance friends and like to keep in touch. (Hence, the “discussion” feature.) But add a couple of features like “Farmville,” and we come flocking in. There are more accounts being made by young adolescents than by moms and dads every day. Which leads to another issue: we see Facebook differently than our parents. What does it really mean to interact with so many fellow peers, some who we may have never known? What does it mean to display photos of yourself and info about yourself and squeeze your opinion in during “discussions”?

Simple: pure narcissism. It takes so much effort to be social in the real world. Virtual interaction is the way to go. You will feel euphoria when you watch your friend counter growing steadily. There’s nothing like feeling popular in a sea of other people secretly feeling popular. Updating your status is just a way to compete for all-time recognition. The more you take part in discussions, the more you’ll be known.

There is a universal truth, however. Children and teens can unwittingly be cruel to one another. Cruelty comes through many forms, such as teasing, harassment, and gossip. And cyber-bullying. Direct insults are easiest and most comfortable to make in the privacy of your own house, on your computer. Nobody can retort with physical violence. You can’t reach through a computer screen. In an online discussion, you can be as blunt as you want. This can be damaging to members of a younger age, especially young students, who, I’ve been told, also use Facebook.

We feed off of each other; it’s just like natural selection. We put others down for our own laughter and our own personal gain. It’s all for the hope of feeling liked. But if you have 1,000 friends in your profile, it may not mean anything. If you have 1 best friend in the outside world, that’s probably something more meaningful. The best thing is to avoid being un-friendly for no reason. Take time to know an online friend, one at a time, not just grab a huge load and pick them off as you go. Facebook is a tool to be enjoyed, but only at a certain level of maturity.

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This article has 6 comments. Post your own now!

Ting912 said...
Mar. 11, 2013 at 8:46 pm
Great work but it actually wasn't made for parents with long distance relationships. It was for college students, a more private form of MySpace if you think about it
A.Dreamer said...
Jul. 29, 2010 at 8:25 pm
Good job writing this! I totally agree with you on pretty much all of this. I'll admit I have had moments where I haven't behaved the best on that site. That question at the beginning was also very thought provoking.
gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 20, 2010 at 4:02 pm
This was a VERY well-expressed article, and you made a good point.  I only recently got a facebook account, and I use it as maturely as possible.  I realize there is inappropriate stuff on there, but I try to avoid it.
DaisyC. said...
Jul. 20, 2010 at 10:09 am
Nice article! I agree with pretty much everything you had to say, I guess Facebook is such an easy way to measure popularity that it becomes sort of addicting. Impressive writting too, keep it up :)
dREAbEARlOVE said...
Jul. 19, 2010 at 6:29 pm
Nice Article :) <33
silvermoon11 said...
Jul. 15, 2010 at 3:18 pm
I think this is a really good discussion f the issues with web narssicism and friend fishing. I totally agree that just because you're on the internet doesn't meant that you can get away with not treating others like they are real people.
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