http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2012/07/13/high-schoolers-dont-always-like-facebook


Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - July 13, 2012

High schoolers don't always 'like' Facebook

Despite discontent, it can be hard to give up

by Jamie Altman

Facebook has been a phenomenon since Mark Zuckerburg created it in his Harvard dorm room in 2004 and it spread like wildfire around the world, but some users are beginning to question its value.

With 900 million active users, Facebook is a free social networking site that allows users to post their statuses and photos, chat with friends, and stay updated in each other's lives.

"I like the idea of Facebook because it allows communication between friends and family who may have otherwise lost touch with each other," said junior Hannah Silverman, who lives in Elkins Park, Penn., but has friends in Pleasanton. "I mostly use it to stay connected with my friends, especially with the ones who live far away."

Businesses and clubs benefit from Facebook, too, as it allows organizations to create pages that users can "like" and then receive updates about their future events.

"The Facebook page helped the UNICEF Club because it was a quick and easy way to publicize events," said Amador Valley High UNICEF Club president Sara Borchers, a senior. "We could also post links to videos and websites for anyone interested."

Facebook is also useful for schoolwork; certain classes, usually ones that are AP or honors, can have Facebook groups with all the students taking the course. This lets them post on the page asking about upcoming tests, homework problems, and other critical questions.

However, Facebook has faults that, in some people's opinion, outweigh the good.

"Facebook has recently made some really annoying changes," said Amador Valley senior Nagashree Setlur. "For example the fact that people can see when you've read their messages, the ticker box (that says what your friends are doing on Facebook at all times) -- and a lot of people really hate the new timeline format of the profile pages."

Due to these changes, many high school students have taken to using social networking sites Twitter and Instagram more often. Twitter allows users to post statuses, or "tweets," and Instagram is a photo-uploading application for iPhone owners.

"When you accept a friend request on Facebook, it goes both ways," explained Amador Valley junior Sarah Wadsworth. "You see everything they post, and they see everything you post."

Wadsworth says this is why she prefers Twitter and Instagram, because someone can choose to follow you, but you don't necessarily have to follow them back.

Foothill High School junior Aleece Hughes said that Facebook is becoming a tedious website, where users "just post the same kinds of statuses every day."

"Throughout the year, all I really see are posts that say, 'At the mall with so-and-so!' or pictures of their outfits taken in front of a mirror -- mostly posts that I don't really care about," she said. "Facebook bores me now."

If users are so discontent with what Facebook has become, why don't they just deactivate their accounts and look into Google+?

"Facebook is addicting," explained Nicole Martin, a sophomore at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. "It takes you away from the real world and into the addictive world called Facebook."

Additionally, there is no competition among social media sites. CNN Tech reporter John Sutter noted that Facebook has 900 million users, way more than any other social network.

Even if you tried to branch out to other sites, the majority of your friends would remain on Facebook, so creating a Google+ account "might be as fun as talking to your cat," Sutter wrote.

He describes Facebook as an "octopus" because it has "too many tentacles to manage." These "tentacles" include newly acquired companies such as Instagram, and all the discontent-causing formats Facebook is trying out.

Facebook is accused of being a "technocracy" because, as Sutter reports, it is "run by engineers who value efficiency above all else." Because of this and many other reasons, 2 million complaints are sent in to Facebook per week.

Facebook is an entire world in itself. It has inspired novels and movies, and has allowed users to create almost a second life for themselves that revolves around the Internet.

"Is it just that our digital lives are now so invested in Facebook that it would be nearly impossible to pull out at this point -- and, because of that, we feel helpless?" Sutter wonders.

To what extent will Facebook users allow the "technocracy" to continue? Will they let Facebook take over their lives? Or maybe the better question is -- has it already?

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