Facebook. We all know (and some of us love) Facebook. It’s revolutionary. Literally. Ask Egypt. It possesses an amazing ease of use, managing to embed messaging, game-playing, photo-posting, video-uploading, link-sharing and (lest we forget) poking, all into a neat, blue interface. Yes, Facebook is quite a thrill and I’ll admit that, as a Facebook user, I enjoy it. But recently I received an e-mail that knocked my appreciation of Facebook down a peg.
After a long weekend enjoying the marriage of one of my oldest cousins to his lovely bride, I was checking my e-mail Monday afternoon and saw a message from a sender I had not seen in a while: Facebook. You see, I don’t like being bothered with e-mails that I won’t read anyway. So, all of the unnecessary messages I would receive (about group notifications, event notifications, notices about posts I’m tagged in, inbox messages, etc., etc.) I have already opted out of. When something happens on Facebook, I’ll know when I go onto Facebook. Having it happen on Facebook and in my e-mail inbox seems redundant to me.
This being the case, I thought that while I was checking my e-mail, I wouldn’t see any messages from a sender named “Facebook.” But of course, I was dead wrong. I simply wanted to delete the message and leave it at that, but it piqued my curiosity. Why was I receiving this message?
“Hi, Christopher. You haven’t been to Facebook for a few days, and a lot happened while you were away.”
This is how the e-mail began, verbatim. The rest of the message basically looked like Facebook restricted to the confines of my inbox window. I didn’t know what to think at first. Obviously, while I’m not on Facebook, things continue to happen. Statuses are updated, profile pictures are changed and comments are made. But why did Facebook need me to know about it so desperately that they e-mailed me?
I understand that at the end of the day, Facebook is a corporation and they’re in the business of making money. Obviously they want me to use their website because it helps them conduct their business and collect advertising fees. I suppose what upsets me isn’t really the e-mail at all, but the circumstances under which I received it. As I said, the e-mail came to me after spending a weekend home enjoying a family wedding. I didn’t use the Internet much at all during this time, let alone go onto Facebook. I was proud to see my cousin get married and for those 72 hours, it was more important to me than anything else. So reading an e-mail that said I was missing out on Facebook’s happenings seemed so insignificant that the e-mail came off as insulting. Because yes, Facebook, I have nothing better to do with my life then check your updates all day long.
I hope I’m not the only one who has an opinion about this. I don’t want to see my generation blindly led onto an Internet roadway that we can’t drive off of. The Internet is important, and I’ll admit Facebook may be important, too. It’s a great tool for communication and organization. But we shouldn’t let its usefulness overshadow what is really important in life. Technology is made by humans and used by humans, so as human beings, we should be able to control it, and not let it control us. Be careful with how (and how often) you use Facebook. There’s a real world out there, and Facebook should only be a means through which we want to interact in real life.
–Christopher Cusack, Hofstra University
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