October 26, 2012

Facebook Thoughts

Lots has happened in the world of technology today specifically for Facebook. Facebook has been in the news lately for a variety of reasons, but NPR noted that in recent days Facebook has experienced a nice hike in revenue that boosted stocks. Okay, so I guess this is good for the stock world, but what I am really interested in is how people use Facebook.

First, a little about my Facebook usage. I initially used Facebook when it first came out almost ten years ago. Remember when you had to be a college student whose college had access to Facebook? Yep, that’s when I first used it. I was a grad student teaching Composition classes and used Facebook as a supplement to my class. My students would spend hours trolling this early version of Facebook (as they still do now), so I figured why not try to utilize that technology?

So, I had a wall. As my students were perusing and experiencing the then new technology, they would send me messages or post on my wall about their papers. It was amazing how the technology enhanced our communication. I was thoroughly impressed with how well it worked and pretty excited that when I tried something new, I experienced a positive outcome.

Then Facebook went viral and that was just too much for me. Plus, I graduated from grad school and found a full-time position, so I closed my account, and for years did not think of opening a new one. That is, until last August when I needed to contact a family member and could only do so through Facebook, so I was back. Now, I have a bittersweet relationship with this social media.

I have enjoyed the connections with loved ones. I have friends and family worldwide whom I cannot always see in person; Facebook has allowed us to connect virtually. We can view pictures, send messages, and write notes to each other. I like this.

I also like the discussions that I can have with people. They might post something that catches my attention, so I comment, and then an impromptu discussion ensues. I like the spontaneity of this.

I do not like how people from my past who are pretty much strangers to me other than we went to high school together or something want to be my friend. Of course, I confirm, but all I can think is why? Why ask me after years of nothing? Why do I accept? I have almost no contact with them after they find me and friend me. In fact, I don’t even know if I want to have contact. I constantly wonder why I approved their friend request, yet I do nothing about it. Both their request and my acceptance are weird.

I also do not like the incessant game requests. Ick.

Finally, I do not like how some people use Facebook. I do not mind people who post often, nor do I mind people who post about their menial daily activities. I may not participate in Facebook in this way, but who am I to complain about others doing so? For some people, I even enjoy their banter and wit. And, let’s face it…if I don’t like how often someone posts, I can hide their updates. I do mind when people use Facebook to spout their rhetoric. I’ve found that some people just want to use Facebook to dictate to others. Some even use Facebook specifically to offend others. I do not like this.

I also mind when people use Facebook to stalk. I didn’t even know that’s how some used it until doing research for an article I’m working on. That’s just not right.

Facebook has been good to connect me with people I have missed, but it has also brought new issues to me that I wouldn’t have thought of previously had I not been an account holding Facebook member. My relationship will continue to be bittersweet with FB, but I will also continue to be a willing participant—at least for a while.

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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