Facebook: Transcending Generations

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On par with the technologically advanced times, the social network known as ‘Facebook’ is rapidly expanding, with an estimated 175 million users, myself included. Having first started within a dorm room of Harvard, Facebook now welcomes nearly 5 million new users per week. The popularity of the website transcends generations, as well, having extended beyond its originally designated college and high school student demographic. Within the last 6 months of 2008, there was an estimated 276 percent increase in Facebook users ages 35-54. However, as Facebook is climaxing, there arises the question of whether it’s expansion to the adult demographic poses a threat to teenagers’ privacy, or if it merely reiterates Facebook’s strength as a universal communication platform.

Facebook erodes the social barriers which we have constructed and perpetuated throughout our lives. Almost robotically, there is a division created between adults and young adults within society, one which facebook’s rising popularity threatens to tear down. The acceptance of a friend request now results in the grouping of student with teacher, parent with child. The distant family member whose phone calls you’ve been dodging is now provided with a porthole in your personal life-also known as your profile page. And when participation in facebook nearly demands for inclusion of one’s private life, it becomes impossible to differentiate between prying eyes and welcome ones.

The updated stream design of facebook only results in a further deconstruction of the thin line between private life and public life. Refreshing one’s home page brings continuous updates of friends’ whereabouts, weekend pictures, and detailed wall posts, thus bringing out the unintentional stalker in all of us. With all of this private information on public display, the inclusion of teachers and parents on facebook is not favorable. Facebook’s intermingling of adults and teenagers results in a consequent dwindling of secrets, with the personal lives of young adults being imposed on. Distant cousins are now allowed to monitor your weekend plans, and teachers are provided with a peephole into the lives of students, an opportunity they would otherwise never be given. But, perhaps some divisions are constructed for a reason.

There is no denying that Facebook holds the potential for becoming the grounds for universal communication. The sense of interconnectedness which Facebook vibrates is only further reiterated by the fact that members transcend generation and ethnicity. Consequently, the spread of facebook to an older demographic cannot be defined as either good or bad; rather, it lies in the hands of the individual user to set personal barriers and boundaries. Sometimes, it might be best to un-tag oneself in the questionable photo, change one’s profile settings, and just log off from the virtual world of facebook.





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