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By Elisheva Averett-Balser

Is Facebook really such a great thing?   

Is it as good a social interaction as spending quality time with family and friends, up close, in- person, looking at each other eye to eye and not connected to a computer ? 

Is Facebook increasingly becoming more of an addiction than a casual hobby- one that is not a nice addiction like chocolate, or a guilty pleasure like romance novels?  Isn’t Facebook an addiction like most drugs-easy to score and impossible to quit?

As the people of the book, should we  go out of our way to make time for Facebook or should we concentrate less on Facebook and more on other books, including Judaic books or even Dr. Seus books?
Are Facebook friends real friends, or just pretend friends, or kinda-friends, or wanna-be-friends that maybe ought to be minimized (if not deleted altogether).

Facebook started as a networking tool, a way to reconnect with people from one’s childhood, or schooling years but now it  seems to serve as a place to drop off your soul and retrieve it many hours later after it’s been abused by the many applications starving for attention.

From 2006-2008 Facebooking was THE thing.  You looked up someone you hadn’t seen in ten years and lo and behold there they were.  You were instantly connected to someone you never thought you’d see again.  That is if they too cared enough to want to be back in your life as well. 

The reality is that Facebook is about personal gratification.  You write on someone’s wall in anticipation of what they will write back on yours, for everyone else to see.  You search for long lost friends to see how your life has compared to theirs over the years.

What started out as a tool to make correspondence easier has turned into a cultural phenomenon.  And that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Facebook today offers so much more than just finding friends.  There are games, applications that allow you to send digital gifts, obscene pictures, and mindless videos.  Hours upon hours are wasted when instead of a real live conversation over the phone, or better yet in person,  messages are left on walls, back and forth (for just about anyone to see).

Instead of quality social interaction, time is spent playing games, sending pictures of cats making funny faces, or waiting for status updates and changes, because it is much more important to know what’s going on at this exact moment in someone’s life who you don’t even really know anymore ( rather than organize your own life).

Facebook is not a town square as it has previously been described.  Town squares are for sharing ideas and coming up with new innovative concepts to help and grow a community.  Facebook, on the other hand, is there, and yes there are ideas passed back and forth, and yes sometimes there is an epiphany, but there is no real give and take.

The website is continually changing formats; users are leaving due to the new inabilities in figuring out what is new, how the changes affect them, and how to change their profiles back to the way that they liked it, to which ever change was best for them.

Also, Facebook, above all else, is a business.  The advertisements on either side of the page prove that.  However, nowadays, more and more, However, nowadays, more and more, original applications such as a name calculator and the Starbucks application (which allowed users to send pictures of their favorite drinks to friends) are sold off to dating websites.  With those solid applications goes user information; and with the user information comes tons of spam like emails that the user never signed up for; they wanted a name calculator, but didn’t want all of their information going to the third party (who is now a first party). Being inundated with emails from random dating websites is not what most users want nor expect from their Facebook experience.

If Facebook wants to continue down this road of destruction, then it will continue to turn off many underwhelmed users, and watch as members leave Facebook in favor of the newest trend in internet, Twitter.

But then again, especially once the whether is nice, isn’t the sound of birds chirping the best “twitter” around.?  Afterall, in spring and summer, shouldn’t we all spend more time outdoors, being active,  with our real life friends, and family, enjoying the extra-hours of sunlight,  instead of sitting in front of the computer screen?.

Elisheva Averett-Balser has a B.A. in religious studies from the University of Winnipeg, and has recently moved to Florida. If truth be known, she really loves Facebook and is on it all the time.



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