The other day, as I was sitting in restaurant with a group of my friends, the topic of Facebook came up in conversation. In reality this topic comes up quite often in our group because one of us, let’s call him ‘Tom”, doesn’t have a Facebook account.
It usually starts by someone bringing up a issue regarding a party or gathering of some sort.
“Hey, are you going to Jen’s 21st?”
This is usually followed by a confused and slightly paranoid response from Tom.
“I didn’t know Jen was having a 21st.”
I’ll need my ears checked if more than a second passes before someone yells something along the lines of “DUDE WHY DON’T YOU HAVE FACEBOOK?”
And then it begins.
Is it not odd to think that just a few years ago we survived without this device? Something that we are constantly checking every few minutes on every medium we can get our hands on? Personally, I have Facebook on everything from my tablet to my phone, but rare is the occasion when I only have one device on me. As I write to you now, I am sitting at my laptop with our friend open as a tab on my desktop. My mobile phone is sitting a few metres away, with my iPod next to it. My iPad is in my messenger bag because I’d taken it out with me earlier today. So really, if I were to get a notification now, I’d get it four times. Yes, I need to ensure that I immediately know that my friend Mark has posted a ‘Y U NO’ meme on my wall, with no momentary lapse in concentration as an excuse.
On the flip side, we have to consider whether Facebook has become a necessary part of life these days. Do we not generally assume when we meet someone that they have an account? Has it not come to the point that we now instantly judge anyone that doesn’t have one? Has adding someone on facebook become the new ‘getting their number”? Surely without that medium anybody would be at a disadvantage.
So during these discussions, or arguments (yes, they are minor arguments), Tom puts forward a very similar case each time. It’s the usual “I don’t want to conform” point – the classic, go-to move for any non-Facebooker. This, whilst being admirable, is such a ridiculous notion I feel like stealing all of Tom’s shoes and super gluing Lego to the pedals in his car.
What would you say if a doctor chooses not to prescribe antibiotics to an influenza patient because, well, they don’t want to conform like all the other doctors? What about if an electronics company started making black and white televisions because colour is just a bit too mainstream? Do we not think of people that refuse to use telephones as backward? Isn’t Facebook and social networking not the new, more advanced, telephone? Basically, the point that I’m trying to make is that there is a difference between conforming to society and just simply not getting with the times, man.
The other argument that Tom uses is the “If I get Facebook I’ll just procrastinate on it all day” case. Fair, yes, but Tom is surely in a position of power in this respect. He knows the effects of Facebook. He recognises the power of time wasting it can enforce; he’s seen it with his own eyes. Surely it would be easier for him to go to lengths to ensure it doesn’t happen to him? Regardless of this, aren’t the benefits far greater than the drawbacks?
Tom brought up an interesting point though, “Do you think we’ll get to a point where babies will be assigned Facebook accounts just as they are born? Will they become like identification documents?” Interesting, yes, but all I could respond with was “Would that be such a bad thing?”. If Tom gets an account and just checks it every now and then, he’ll be able to keep up to date with all of his friends. It bugs me that he misses out on things just because he is kept out of the loop. It’s frustrating when you need to contact him and you’re overseas and can’t just send a text. Facebook, the corporate, mainstream giant that it is, is part of our lives now and will be until we find a better way.