Friday, February 11, 2011

Facebook Ban - Myspace Renegades

Ah, Myspace. What happened? Where did you go wrong and have all of us turn our backs on you? How fickle the heart of the social networking society is! I am one of these renegades. I am not sorry.

To be honest, I have spent the past 20 minutes trying to figure out my old login information to get onto my Myspace account. I know I come from a generation enthralled with various substances that do not promote good memory function, but I'm not THAT bad. I should remember this. Has it been that long?

Before I delve into the innards that is Myspace and the advent of Facebook (at least in my life) please note that my source is my weak memory. I am not getting any of this information from The Social Network movie (haven't seen it. Still refuse to.), or anywhere else. So this is my renegade story as I recall it, where I turned my back on Myspace and went to the dark side...

I unfortunately have been scouring both Facebook and Myspace to find the dates that I made each profile, but I can't find this information so here's the ballpark: 17. I was around the age of 17 when I made my Myspace profile. The great thing about Myspace was that it had everything all in one. Each profile had a blog, you could make music profiles for your budding rock band, you could customize your profile to the point where it doesn't even look like a Myspace page anymore... anything. You didn't have to put your own name on your profile. All my friends had "Myspace names." "Stephanie Spins", "Hot Mess", and "Flawless" were all good friends of mine on Myspace. I was "Little Bird". I still am. This persona Myspace allowed you to create would bleed into real life: we actually referred to each other by our Myspace names, we knew the Myspace celebrities (Tila Tequila, Jeffery Starr, etc.) and talked about them IRL ("in real life"). Myspace was a huge deal back then, so what happened?

When Facebook started, I refused to join. First of all, before you could even do anything on Facebook you had to enter your University. It was primarily a University networking tool then, and they hadn't added my Canadian prairie alma mater to the list yet. Everyone was bugging me to try this new "Facebook" thing, Myspace was so passe! So eventually they relaxed the university restrictions (or added my university to the list... I can't remember and it's unimportant), and I created a profile. There were a few things I didn't like. By a few things I mean everything. What do you mean you can't customize the backgrounds on your profile? There's no blog? There's nothing that remotely resembles a blog? WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU HAVE TO USE YOUR REAL NAME?!

GARBAGE. This new website was absolute garbage in my educated 20 year old opinion.

But then.... it happened. Someone really dropped the ball over at Myspace. Viruses and hackers riddled the site, pop up ads, and glitches were everywhere. Myspace stopped working for the people. After a few months of dealing with this frustration, while Facebook was busy tweaking and improving their site, we gave up. Myspace's darlings felt scorned and forgotten. Slowly we started trickling back to our barren Facebook profiles. We learned how to use the "wall" and the "pokes" and how to add all your friends. Facebook was less creative yes, but we were getting the hang of things and at least it didn't crash on us? The momentum picked up and soon our myspace profiles were left to gather dust in some forgotten corner of the internet.

That's how it happened. The great internet migration from Myspace to Facebook. Now Myspace has completely switched their concept in order to not be rendered obsolete. They've focused on the music aspect of the site, which is a good plan as Facebook still doesn't support music players on profiles. So maybe Myspace won't be laid to rest just yet, but it is on the brink of internet death. They've accepted defeat and even provide links to Facebook right on their home page. How sad:

Facebook has officially usurped the title of supreme ruler of our internet and our lives. I don't think anyone minds.

(post script: I am STILL trying to log onto my Myspace profile. ugh.)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Facebook Ban - Pro Facebook

For the amount of negative insights I have into Facebook there is a reason we all use it so often. It is a great tool for connecting with friends, staying in touch with people, and networking. It's also a great marketing and public relations tool for any type of business, from the new to the old. Facebook is a free way for you to get the word of your start-up business out into the public, and to keep people updated on various things you're doing with that business.

As of 2010, Facebook had over 400 million active users, with the average user spending 55 minutes per day on Facebook. Clearly it's a tool that's being used, and in high volumes on a regular basis. To be able to tap into this network and effectively use it to your advantage is a great use of resources.

On Facebook, you can create a "page" specifically for your business or project. More than 20 million people become fans of pages a day. It's an effective way to reach a lot of people with minimal effort. When you update the page, each fan gets a notification automatically letting them know of the change. Letting possibly hundreds, to thousands of people know what your company is up to with a click of a button for FREE is amazing.

You can also create event pages. With an event page you can send invitations to hundreds of people in a matter of minutes. They RSVP, which gives you a general idea of the numbers of people who would be attending, as well as can write on the wall about the event. This is a great way to field any questions regarding the event, and let them know any changes in venue or time. Facebook automatically has a reminder in the top corner of the event for anyone who RSVP'd that they would attend as well.

Facebook chat is another element of the website I love. It allows you to see who of your friends is online and lets you chat in real time with them while still navigating the site freely. I use the chat to stay in touch with my friends from out of town mostly. If you were not interested in letting people see that you are online, the chat allows you to appear as offline, so as to not get any chat requests.

I've mentioned the newsfeed several times in this blog, but it really is the pièce de résistance of Facebook. It is on the homepage, and is updated constantly with anything your friends are doing. Status changes, photo uploads, wall posts... everything. You can customize the newsfeed, letting Facebook know what type of things you want to see (more photos over status changes for example), and who's information you don't want to see updated. It's a great and quick way to get snippets of information on a lot of different people in a very short amount of time.

So as you can see, Facebook is not all that bad. It is a great tool when used to it's full potential. Take out the psychological warfare and use it for what it was initially meant for: networking.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Facebook Ban - Facebook Terrorism

Facebook terrorism has become a pandemic in our society in the past few years. You may think that the use of the word “terrorism” is a bit strong, but this cyber-bullying is leading to a spike in teen suicide all over the world. Facebook Terrorism is more intense and blatant than warfare.

Facebook Terrorism is the public bullying of a person through the use of their facebook wall, newsfeed, and other aspects of the social networking website. There have been so many sickening examples of this in the past year that it has become apparent that some controls need to be put in place; even if that means a higher level of profile monitoring regardless of the privacy issues involved.

The most recent story I had read made me feel sick to my stomach. A 16 year old girl was drugged and gang raped at a rave in Pitt Meadows, B.C. As a result of the date rape drug, she did not remember the event until she found the photos and video of the rape on Facebook several days later. The photos were removed by the RCMP, but have resurfaced elsewhere on the internet. "This victim is having to relive it on a daily basis, because we get the photos taken off, and then all of a sudden they're redistributed and others are viewing it," RCMP Insp. Derren Lench says. If that’s not terrorism, I don’t know what is.

15 year old Holly Grogan jumped 30ft to her death after enduring bullying and abuse posted on her Facebook page. Her friend admitted that a group of girls would gang up on her and post a series of abusive messages on her Facebook wall. A 14 year old boy committed suicide after fellow students made comments about his sexual orientation on Facebook.

Facebook has morphed from a tool one can use to connect with people all over the world and a great promotional tool, to a weapon. This is a larger problem within the teen demographic, but it does exist outside of that.

A close friend of mine was killed by a drunk driver as she was working as a tow truck driver here in Winnipeg. Quickly after her death, family and friends created a memorial page for her on Facebook so people can share memories and grieve together. The driver of the other car was a young man in his 20’s and was in the hospital after the crash. His friends felt the need to go on this memorial page and write hateful comments about our friend who had died, in a way of defending him. Commenting on her sexual orientation, promiscuity, etc. etc. etc. This was a form of Facebook terrorism targeted at a large group of people, and imagining her parents and sister reading the abusive comments these strangers were writing is maddening.

Facebook terrorism ruins lives and is never acceptable. This is a pandemic that should not be taken lightly or without action to stop it.

Some more resources:

Cyber-Bulling statistics

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Facebook Ban - Facebook Warfare

Facebook is an amazing tool. It can be used to reconnect with people, promote events, stalk people, and so much more. It can also be used as an effective weapon in the Passive Aggressive War so many people engage in. I briefly touched on some of this behaviour here, but this post will let us delve into the tactical genius of Facebook as a social weapon.

To be clear, I am not talking about full on battle royale's via wall posts or photo comments. Having a "screaming match" via Facebook is just embarrassing. I'm talking about the intricate dance of internet passive aggressiveness. an integral post on a third party's wall, a strategic photo tag, all these things are tactics in this online war.

What are the reasons one would be warring via Facebook you ask? Break-ups, friend fights, anything to do with the opposite sex etc. etc. etc. Any reason why you would be warring in real life would be a reason for it to trickle onto Facebook. You've probably done it and not even realized. Ever notice how many times you visit the profile of a person you're fighting with? Well, that's considered "gathering intel" my friends.

Even if you tell yourself that you are not conducting any of this behaviour, you know the correspondence between you and certain groups of people will show up on their newsfeed. You know that even if you are no longer Facebook friends, tagging a friend of theirs in your photos from that "great party you didn't invite them to" will pop up in their newsfeed...

Ah, the newsfeed. This is your medium. The Facebook Newsfeed sends you information on your friends, and lets you know of the activity happening on their profile. Your crafty posts with third party profiles connected to your victim will inevitably show up on their news feed.

Here's an admittance I have of warfare I engaged in. It was about 3 years ago, and I maintain this is not my normal behaviour. I had just begun dating someone, and their ex girlfriend had gone a little mental about that. She had approached me multiple times on the fact. So instead of retaliating publicly, or dramatically, I merely posted my "favourite" song on my new boyfriend's wall. I didn't hear from her again.

I do not condone the use of Facebook as a weapon in the Passive Aggressive War. It is childish, but people do it because it provides the perfect avenue for it. In my next post I will be talking about what happens when this war is taken too far...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Facebook Ban - The Descent

It's been almost a month since I've been back on Facebook, and I am still alive. I learned a few things during my hiatus, but the biggest changes came when I rejoined the herd.

I was hesitant to log back on initially. When the date and time came that the ban was lifted I was nervous about what would happen. I had been functioning happily without, but was curious about what was going on online without my constant presence and censorship. My fingers hovered over the keyboard, scared to type in my password. Then I stepped off the cliff.

The first thing I noticed was a complete layout change. Facebook allows you to sample their new layouts before fully committing. I didn't change over right away because I had bigger fish to fry, and needed a slow integration back into the matrix. I had almost 19 notifications, almost 30 messages, and 12 friend requests. How that happened in only 4 weeks is scary and surprising. It's not like I had been a hermit during my hiatus; I was out on the town more than ever reconnecting with old friends, sharing beers and cigarettes and dance moves.

Quite a few of the messages were from events so they don't really count. Almost all of the friend requests were from random men. Clearly they saw my most recent relationship status change, and hadn't read this post. I found the sheer amount of notifications I had to sift through overwhelming. I almost wanted to log back off and never go back. I had sort of enjoyed the peace and quiet. The simplicity of Twitter appealed more to me than the rabbit-hole that is Facebook. With Twitter there are no twists and turns that can lead you straight into stalking someone for hours. What you see is what you get, and I liked that.

After cleaning up my account from all the notifications, I decided I was ready for the layout change. Might as well make the choice before Facebook made it official. The whole switch over was overwhelming as well. The first week back on the drug I had no desire to check my profile. It didn't have the same hold over me as before. Maybe I had learned something from my hiatus?

Unfortunately that is wishful thinking. Classes started again and my lack of attention span led me to hover on my Facebook profile, searching for any form of distraction.

So the blog is back. No, I am not going back on another Facebook hiatus; however, I will continue with my social analysis of my generation's favourite pass-time. The following posts will include:

- Facebook Warfare
- Facebook Terrorism
- Pro Facebook
- Myspace to Facebook: The Renegades

If there is time, I will attempt a review on The Social Network, a movie about Facebook, and a commentary on how Mark Zuckerberg was given the title of Person of the Year by the New York Times for 2010. Up to this point I had refused to see The Social Network, as the idea of watching a biopic about Facebook made me uncomfortable; however, in the name of research I will watch it. The blog is back, so feel free to suggest other topics in the comments. I want to delve as far as I can into the social enigma that is Facebook addiction.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The End - Final Withdrawal Symptoms

I am aware at how depressing it is that I still am having "symptoms" in my final week of the ban (which is lifted tomorrow at midnight). I have had the same symptoms for the past 2 weeks, but was hoping they would subside without me having to actually admit to them online.

As you'll remember in the beginning, my symptoms were mostly of a physical nature. The autopilot kicking in to check my page for notifications, my fingers itching to update it...

Now I suffer from a more psychological problem. When the ban started, I did not delete my profile, I merely stopped logging in. Although my profile is only available for friends to see, it was still left open for them to run rampant on it. The fact that I was not present to censor what was being publically posted on my wall gave me the most anxiety.

This began at the end of the second week, when my sister informed me that her boyfriend had asked her "what is with all the pictures of Lauren at that party on Facebook?" Cue panic. I must admit I almost broke the ban right then and there. I sent my sister to scout out for me. Was there anything incriminating? Did I look unattractive in any of the photos? How many were there? I guess you could call this "cheating" a little. I maintain that it is the only time I sent someone to scout out Facebook.

This is the most depressing thing that I have learned these past 4 weeks. Facebook is a person's expertly designed window into their life that they show their friends. It is a way for people to create that side of themselves they've always wanted to portray, cut out the bad, and feed it to the masses. I am one of those people (you are too probably).

Another sad thing I have realized is that I am excited to go back. I had a friend point out a cute friend of hers, and afterwards told me to Facebook-stalk him. I admit that if this ban was not in place, I would be ALL OVER THAT. Have I learned nothing? possibly.

The final symptom I've noticed is the fear. I am scared to go back onto Facebook. I am scared of what I will let happen to my emotional and psychological well-being. I am also sad that the thought of "never going back" never crossed my mind. I was always going back, I was merely taking a hiatus.

I have made a pact with myself after doing this ban however. I promise to incorporate moderation into my Facebook use, go on hiatuses once in awhile, and to be kind to myself. By kind I mean: no more ex stalking/ex's new girlfriend stalking. It just fuels negativity.

I was mildly unsuccessful in my goal to meet people face to face. I definitely went out a lot more, spent time with new people, and made new connections. However, my twitter is out of control! I seemed to merely replace my Facebook addiction with other social networking drugs.

That being said, I was successful. I stayed off Facebook for 4 weeks, which is something I honestly did not think I could do. At least the competitive side of my personality is stronger than the addictive side.

So, what do you think? Can you go on hiatus too? I suggest you do, just to put your usage in perspective. Feeling the feelings I felt about leaving a website, will scare you.

Facebook Ban - The Boss: To Add or Not to Add

This right here ladies and gentlemen, is a tricky one. No matter where you work, be it a casual bar or a high-powered corporate office, this is an issue. In an ideal world your boss won't have a Facebook profile, and if they do, won't attempt to add you.

This, however, is not an ideal world, and more likely than not you will get that friend request. So when you click on the friend request notification and see your boss' shining face peering at you from the screen what do you do? DILEMMA!

You feel obligated to accept the friend request because they are your boss, but do you really want to allow them access to your entire profile?

This has happened to me with a few bosses. I work in an industry where the relationship between boss and employee is usually quite casual. But no level of "casual" is casual enough to allow my male bosses access to my bikini shots from my Mexico vacation. This may be a different case if you have a boss that is the same gender as you, but either way it's not very appropriate. You do NOT want your boss seeing those photos your friend posted of you funnelling beers at that party last weekend or any other similar activities.

The other problem with having the boss on your Facebook is when you call in "sick" . We have all done it, either faked the call or are actually sick on a monday but felt fine enough to go out saturday night. When the photos, comments, or any other general evidence pops up on your Facebook that you were out when you should have been in bed you have an issue.

It makes me uneasy to have my boss comment on things on my profile. Just knowing that they can see what I do when I am not at work makes me nervous.

Another important point is that businesses are now "facebook searching" potential hires for jobs. So if you apply for a job, and your facebook profile is completely public with a photo of you doing a keg stand... good luck.

My advice: If the boss adds you, do NOT accept. If your profile is public, MAKE IT PRIVATE. If you are questioned as to why you did not accept said request, a simple explanation of how you "like to keep your work life and personal life separate" will suffice. If it does not, you're working for a 14 yearold.