Facebook for me is both useful and frustrating at the same time. I live almost six hours away from where I grew up which means that it can be difficult to keep in contact with friends and family from back home. However, Facebook helps me keep in touch with them; possibly a little too in touch. There have been times that I know more about what is going on at home than my parents who still live there do. I can know a lot about what is going on in a person’s life without even talking to them, so in a way, Facebook helps me keep in touch with people, but I still lose personal contact with them. In this way, it sets up a sort of false relationship with people. I can know about a person and what they are doing, where they are, etc. without ever talking to them and they don’t even have to know that I know this information about them. I know that I haven’t talked to my best friends from home in a very long time. When I want to know what they’re doing, I just go to their Facebook page or write a short message on their wall. I think that this is part of why Facebook can be so addicting. It gives people the socialization that they need with very little effort. There is no awkward small talk and or uncomfortable pauses. And when people are done “socializing” they simply have to logout with no goodbyes.
What is interesting about using Facebook so much for socialization is that it is constructed socialization with identities that people construct for themselves. You can’t really get to know someone from their Facebook page. If there is something about a person that they don’t want others to know, they simply don’t put it on their page. I know I have not listed some of my interests or beliefs on my Facebook page simply because I don’t want other people to know those things about me. However, even with this construction, Facebook has gotten to the point where it is unusual not to have a Facebook profile. It seems as if you don’t construct a version of yourself for public consumption, you are the unusual one.
Despite all of this, I still find Facebook to be incredibly addicting. It is one of the first things I check in the morning when I wake up and it is a huge distraction for me from my homework. Sometimes I think that getting things done would be so much easier if I deleted my Facebook account, but I still can’t do it. Most of my time in college is documented in some way on Facebook and if I delete it, I would lose it all. Plus, I know that if I wasn’t on Facebook, I would completely lose all contact with a few people, which I would not like to do. So I guess Facebook is something with which I have a true love/hate relationship . . . and I probably love it a little more than I hate it.
I think that Facebook could be used in many ways as an educational tool. Students already know how to use it and enjoy using it. We have talked in a couple classes about how so many educational tools such as Ning or Moodle are trying to use a Facebook format. Why not just use Facebook so students wouldn’t have to learn a new format? I think it would be extremely useful for hosting online discussions or forums or even coordinating class projects and activities. Students could freely discuss different topics in a comfortable setting. However, one downside to using Facebook for educational purposes is that it might be difficult to keep students’ private lives separate from their academic lives. One way around this would be to have students create a Facebook profile specifically for academic use. But overall, I think that using Facebook in the classroom could be an easy way to engage and interest students in classroom discussions and activities.