What’s In a Facebook?

Is Facebook a New Phenomenon or an Old Animal With New Spots?

Are you a facebook junky? Well, if you’re in college in America and you are not a junky yet, chances are you will be soon or you will know someone who is already hooked.

Over the past two years, college students all across America have been logging on to a fairly new internet network for college age students. www.facebook.com, or as it is popularly called, facebook has become the new trend, taking the place of similar sites such as Blackplanet and Collegeclub. Yet, what makes this site so different from all the rest and why are students claiming to be addicted?

 “The main difference between facebook and those other sites, especially Blackplanet, is that you’re less likely to have all the nasty crap on it and the organization of the website is much better,” said Courtney Odone a senior from Tulane University.

“I was on Collegeclub for a hot second and I was on Blackplanet my freshman year, but a lot of those became avenues for dating instead of just a place where you could see your friends and catch up with people you haven’t talked to in awhile.”

According to the website, facebook is an online directory that connects people through social networks at colleges that launched to the public Wednesday, February 4, 2004. A person’s specific facebook is limited to his or her own college or university, but they can search many other universities through their friends at other schools. You have the opportunity to search people at your school through your extracurricular activities, by dorms, classes, friend’s friends and you can see a visualization of your social network. However, one can not actually join unless he or she attends a college that is on the facebook list, which is updated very often.

“Facebook started off with the ivy-league schools and then down the line they’ve started adding more and more schools,” said Odone. “They just started adding the state schools and the HBCUs so more Black people are just starting to get into the facebook thing and it’s kind of spread. I now have random people sending me notes that I haven’t talked to since high school and I get to stay in touch with them without having to use the phone. It’s the same addiction as aol instant messenger.”

But according to Maritza Negron, a junior from Howard University, not everyone feels this same addiction. “I don’t think it’s that addictive. It’s just something new for people who’s schools are just getting added and you don’t have to deal with all the freaky stuff on Blackplanet,” she said.

On the website, each person is provided a personal facebook, which can include a picture, information in the profile such as major, residence, birthday, high school, interests, clubs/jobs, as well as favorite quotes, music, movies, and books. It also includes a “wall” where people can post messages on your page. According to the website, the wall is the forum for that person’s friends to post comments or insights. It is an open space and anyone can edit what the previous person has said.

The wall is actually one of the more addictive parts of the website, according to Robert Moore, a senior from Morehouse College. “I got on the website in November because one of my friends from USC sent me an instant message telling me to get on it,” he said. “Now, I get on to check my email and see if my wall has changed and then all of a sudden you just find yourself on there for a long time.”

But, Odone said that she thinks the so-called addiction has more to do with a problem many college students have, as opposed to just losing track of time checking your profile. “Yeah, you get to catch up with people, but really it’s about being nosy and procrastinating doing your work,” she said. “I know I get caught up looking up my friends and my friends’ friends and the next thing you know, hours have passed. It’s crazy.”