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2009 April 19
by Aline

I forgot to write about this article I read in Time magazine last weekend. This Time article discussed Facebook and perspective college students. Apparently many colleges are getting on facebook to attract potential students. especially with the extra things they offer. Also, groups have been started to share where you got in and where you did not. It seems to me that Facebook just keeps expanding.  I am not sure how I feel about this, but I think this is going too far. Shouldn’t some things be kept private? Why should all these colleges prostrate themselves on facebook? It seems they all want to tell everyone how technologically advanced they are, making them more desirable.  I think it’s cool that they have certain extras, but shouldn’t the focus be academics? Facebook seems to have become a necessary social network. Is it considered a virtual world or just a virtual profile? I think it has become a social world, since you can now interact with colleges, people from around the world, and play games. One thing that I do find disturbing however, is that it has also become a place to grieve. I had never considered it before, but over the summer a friend of mine died and her profile remains. It has become a “memorial” to her in the virtual world. Apparently our reality selves can die but the virtual ones will live on. It just creeps me out.

Anyway, I am not saying Facebook is good or bad.  I just find it curious that within the last five years it has grown so much, permeating almost every aspect of my life.

4 Responses
  1. April 19, 2009

    I think having college groups and colleges on Facebook makes all the waiting in between the deadlines easier for some students. Also, it can help make people less nervous if they feel like they know at least a couple of people who will be at the school when they finally get there. But then you also have the people who friend their entire grade and then halfway into the year you still have no clue who that person actually is. In real life, acquaintances who you never see just drift away, but on Facebook they can keep updated on your every move. I think that that’s a little odd.

    As for the grieving, I suppose it is a little weird, but oddly comforting in a way. A friend of mine died in high school and her parents kept her livejournal page up and communicated to all of her friends and thanked them for everything they had done for her. It’s interesting how one person can be a connection to so many others inadvertently. You lose the person behind the profile, but the networking remains.

    A little off topic, but I wonder what the next big popular networking, etc. site will be like once Facebook winds down someday in the future.

  2. Alexandra Funk permalink
    April 19, 2009

    I also don’t think colleges coming on Facebook is necessarily a bad thing. However, as someone who took the “old-fashioned” route when coming to college (I didn’t have a facebook profile before I got here), I feel like it was a good thing that I wasn’t involved in the social pre-BMC networking. Something we’ve talked about in class is the idea that when you come to college you can reinvent yourself. I wouldn’t say I “re-invented” myself, but I have definitely changed a great deal. If I didn’t have the transition time that opportunity may not have been available for me.

    I too am uncomfortable that it has become a place to grieve. There should really be a profile deletion policy in the case of someone’s death.

    The privacy issue is a very big deal. People don’t realize that once you put something on the WWW it’s there forever. I’m especially worried for the younger generations. There isn’t an educational system set-up to inform young people about these very real concerns. Just because FB seems safe doesn’t mean it is. A lot of this comes down to personal responsibility as well. If you’re going to have a social networking site you should be willing to police the information people post about you and you should keep tabs on the people you are “friends” with.

    The internet is an amazing, useful, wonderful, terrifying place.

  3. Melinda C. permalink
    April 19, 2009

    I have to admit, I am still friends on facebook with several people at Bryn Mawr who I’ve never actually met or had a real conversation with. I was one of the people who joined the 2011 group, asked questions, answered others, and started adding people months before school started. It was nice to meet some of the students I would be going to school with, and it definitely helped with the LONG wait (I was REALLY anxious to get here). I’m still friends with a few of the people I met online first, but my closest friends are mostly people I met once I got here.

    I am not really surprised by facebook’s growing role in college choices, admissions, etc. Before people were posting their acceptances and trying to meet one another on facebook, there was College Confidential, a forum that would drive anyone mad, that has been used for a similar purpose (look it up and see what I mean – When I was looking at colleges, especially at ones I could not visit, I found that poking around their online communities (on facebook, livejournal, etc.), chatting with current students, and discussing with other prospectives was a great way to help figure out what was best for me.

    I think it makes sense that colleges would be trying to establish an “official” presence on facebook as well. I see it as them trying to find the potential students where they spend a lot of time, and where they are already convening. Everyone is moving online, joining sites like facebook, etc. because they know they can reach people that way. Now, one downside to this that I can see is that an “official” facebook group might be more highly moderated than one that originates with students, and might not end up providing the best honest view into student life after all. Admissions departments pretty much have to put the best spin on everything possible, and one of the advantages to finding these online groups is that students themselves who are not affiliated with admissions are more likely to be straightforward about the potential downsides and how things “really” are. I suppose that I see this kind of early student networking as a good thing in general.

    As for posting about one’s college acceptances/rejections and commiserating online… I also feel like that just kinda goes along with the general trend of everyone making things more public via the internet. Not sure whether that’s necessarily a good or bad thing, though I agree that it’s a little worrisome that people are putting more and more personal information online. It was a much bigger deal to do this kind of thing when I was younger, but I feel like a lot of that fear has dissipated… for better or worse.

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