Graphic by Erin Sankey

Students question the necessity of the social-networking site

By Cassie Lowery, ’13

As the 2011 movie The Social Network says, “you don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” Facebook now cites 800 million active users, which means all of those millions of people have logged onto the site within the past 30 days. According to the statistics page on the site, more than 50 percent of these people will log in on any given day. If Facebook were a country, it would have the third largest population in the world, falling behind China and India.

With so many people now on Facebook, choosing not to participate on the site is something that’s become increasingly uncommon. For some, abstaining from Facebook is a matter of privacy; others believe the social networking site can end up hampering relationships instead of improving them, as it claims to do.

Sophomore Grace Saalman is part of the ever-dwindling population of non-Facebook-users. Although her parents gave her the option to create an account when she was in seventh grade, she chose not to do so.

“I have thought about getting a Facebook a few times but never got around to it, and it never seemed very important or necessary,” Saalman said.

One of the main reasons Saalman decided not to create an account was due to her busy schedule.

“I believe that I would spend too much time on it. That’s what my friends do,” she said. “I have a busy schedule with sports, clubs, homework and studying. I personally do not need another distraction in my life.”

Freshman Disha Shidham was also concerned with the amount of time Facebook could potentially consume.

“I think [Facebook] is just distracting,” Shidham said. “I just felt like it would be harder to focus with one, and I can always contact people in other ways.”

Both Saalman and Shidham agree that their time is better spent without Facebook.

“It keeps me from procrastinating, and I can do something more productive with my free time since I don’t have the temptation to go and check Facebook,” Shidham said.

Junior Alex Harris was a member of Facebook for over a year when he decided to delete his account due to the amount of time he found himself wasting on the site. Although he recently chose to rejoin the site, he found that during the time he was off Facebook, he used his time more productively.

“[I] saved a ton of time and I found I didn’t get sucked into petty high school [drama],” Harris said.

Both Saalman and Shidham have discovered the downsides that come with refraining from joining the site. Facebook has become a way for many people to organize social activities. Because of this, both girls have had to rely on others to get the information posted on the site that they miss.

“A lot of crew practices and schedule changes are posted on Facebook instead of e-mail now, which means I don’t get the information unless one of my friends tells me,” Saalman said.

Another concern that Saalman has about Facebook is the ability to “stalk” or “creep” on others’ walls without their knowledge. Many aren’t comfortable with the ease at which people can find out everything from a person’s religious and political associations, to information about what they did last weekend. This is exacerbated by the fact that people often try to get as many friends as possible. Therefore, although privacy settings may be set to private, hundreds or thousands of people still can see the information.

“I find it curious that people should friend so many others whom they have never met,” Saalman said. “There is a kind of unspoken competition among my friends who can have the most friends on Facebook, when really, they have talked to maybe half of the people. I feel Facebook is just another way to advertise the events going on in your life and creep on the lives of other people.”

Despite some of the negative aspects of the site, freshman Olivia Dieker said she finds the positives of the site outweigh these downsides.

“If there is a group project for school or you have a homework question, there are usually people online to talk to,” Dieker said. “[Facebook] is sometimes even better to use than texting or calling group members.”

Dieker also enjoys being able to keep up with her friends. Additionally, she likes how easy it is to contact people over Facebook, since being “friends” with someone eliminates the necessity of having their phone number or e-mail address.

Harris found that the convenience of Facebook made up for its addictive nature and eventually recreated his account after deleting it.

“I had to finally create another [account]…to promote bands that were evolving [Truth Between Lies],” Harris said. “I needed to have a way to get a hold of a lot of people quickly, and there just isn’t another way to do that effectively.”

However, there are still those out there that believe that Facebook actually interferes with communication, eliminating some of the more personal aspects.

“I like being able to actually talk to someone,” Shidham said. “It seems like you have a better connection with them than just going online and using Facebook chat.”

With hundreds of millions of people now on Facebook, it may seem as though everyone is on the site. However massive the numbers may appear, there are still billions of non-users, including Shidham and Saalman. These two are far from alone in thinking Facebook isn’t without its faults. So while Facebook will most likely continue to expand for the present, there will always be those questioning just how desirable that is.