Facebook, by itself as a whole, is a controversy. Based on the statistics of Facebook accounts throughout its existence, its user population will continue to expand. Or will it? As long as Facebook operates, controversies will come along. However, none of the past controversies have done significant damage to this social media site to an extent of long term loss of its users.
The reputation of Facebook was once again tainted with its privacy scandal. The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, was alleged to have exploited their users’ data. He was summoned by the U.S. Congress to testify the accusations on data breach and subsequently by the European Parliament to speak of similar matters in relation to data leak.
The CEO has been criticized and ridiculed through his inhumane and evil depictions in media. To add on, the debate continues on the ill effects of social media including Facebook. With fake news, targeted ads, and doubts on security measures, are some of the leading factors provoking criticism. Arguments are raised also from the realm of psychoanalytic, pointing out the lack of connectivity in real life, the dangers of comparing the lives portrayed through internet posts, and cyber bullying. These side effects of social media and Facebook seems to be irrelevant to the popularity of Facebook.
Perhaps its consumers are not aware of the risks of Facebook. On the other hand, many have realized the complete deal with Facebook; some delete their accounts while the rest remains. My entire year 2017 did not involve Facebook. Through this experience of abstinence contrasted with the active access to this social platform, I have much to say on my valuable learnings. On a user’s perspective, I will share a user’s guide to Facebook.
As I entered my first year in high school, my best friend made me a Facebook account. After many failed attempts of convincing me to get into social media, she created an account for me on her own. Her effort turned out to be useful beyond imagining throughout high school. I realized that I would have had to access to Facebook at one point or another. Every group projects, exam reviews, and class schedules were communicated online.
Initially, Facebook was purely for academic purposes for me. Then, promptly, I started using the website as it was meant to be: add friends, chat routinely, share posts, like posts and chat some more through comments. This was level two. Level three was adding friends who I barely speak with in real life, not communicate with them, but too often envy their journals of lives better than mine on newsfeed. When I reached level four, I already had over 800 friends on Facebook.
On my birthdays, over 800 of these people were notified of my birthday and messages will pour in. However, it was difficult to find the few sincere messages out of the brief “HBD”s (HBD: Happy Birthday). I felt the shallowness of online relationships and the sharp sense of loneliness they bring. The pressure of fitting in online no longer seemed worth my emotional exertion and time. Despite how much of my school works were accessible through Facebook, I deleted my account on my senior year in high school. A week ahead of quitting Facebook, my friend had agreed to inform me of the class related notices through her account to me in person at school.
Surprisingly, the Facebook-less year went by easily. With much gratitude to my friend, I did not miss out any academic benefits. Moreover, no distance was created between me and my friends. In fact, the increased frequency in real-life conversations and weekend hang outs were more idealistic relationships for me.
Then, going to college in a different country and without my high school friends, I was once more left with no choice other than to create a Facebook account for the sake of academics. However, I invested a month of time to study what I call Mastering the Art of Facebook. With the internet being my teacher, I learned to identify fake news and propaganda on Facebook. I also learned to stop comparing my life to the lives of others purely based on Facebook feeds. Lastly, I learned to balance Facebook relationship with real life relationship. I started adding friends. From the preceding over 800 people, my friends list now had only ten people; I did not have to worry about keeping up with shallow relationships anymore.
My experience cannot validate or invalidate Facebook and its users. Everything varies upon each individual. If one finds happiness in social media, as a hobby or a career, then Facebook is certainly not the evil. Facebook is a modern necessity. It connects the world, opens new doors in finding friends, gives opportunities to seek jobs, provides a platform to speak up, or simply entertains us. Social media in the current time does not only serve its initial purpose of communication. To choose upon which purpose a website can provide one with and to be aware of how to avoid its consequences lie on our hands.
Using Facebook for my advantage and protecting my user’s rights, I am a testimony that Facebook is a fire of Prometheus. It is one’s power to lead it to demise or progress. How are you going to use the fire?