R’Perspective: The horrors of Facebook, one year later

Jimmy Lai/HIGHLANDER

This May 8 marks a day that will live in infamy for me — the one year anniversary of the day I joined Facebook.

Facebook, and social media in general, has long been something I viewed with distaste, to say the least. I thought of Facebook as a way to waste away your time, not unlike video games, but without the same sense of accomplishment. It was a way to put information that I wouldn’t want to be public out there for everyone to see. Needless to say, I never planned on creating an account for Facebook; and for 19 years I was able to get away without making one.

It wasn’t something that I did willingly. At the time, I was the assistant opinions editor here at the Highlander, getting ready for my promotion to lead editor for the next year. Last year’s opinions editor and my direct superior at the time, Jessica, explained that the Highlander staff handled a lot of its internal communications via Facebook, and that I’d need to have a Facebook profile in order to be a part of that.

“Screw that,” I thought.

Unfortunately, Jessica insisted that I had to do so. Worse, since she had access to the opinions email address and all of the personal information one needs to make an account (not that it takes all that much), she said she would make the account for me if I didn’t. “Fine,” I said; I took the keyboard from her and punched in my information (with my personal email address) on the computer. It took all of one minute to create my first actual online presence.

Contrary to what I was expecting, I didn’t immediately die or burst into flames when I made the account. All that happened was that everyone in the office, and a handful of my other friends, jumped at the chance to add me as an online friend. And that was pretty much it; no one made a big deal out of it except me.

Once I took over as lead editor, I discovered that, to say nothing else about it, using Facebook for newspaper-related purposes was a valid and often necessary function. As it turns out, no one actually checks their email in this office, so putting notifications on Facebook demanding that people do their share of the editorial work was the only way to get them to do their job, so that I could get to work doing mine. Even now, 99 percent of my messages and posts on Facebook are related to making sure people are on time with their editorial work or other newspaper business.

Of course, the main purpose of Facebook, as I have gathered, is to either show off what’s going on in your life, to vent about something political or to share funny memes — not to do any serious work. After all, the first thing I see when I log in is a random assortment of those three things, in equal proportion to each other. I quickly learned a few valuable lessons about each of these types of posts: That everyone else does something more interesting than I do; that everyone, regardless of political orientation, stoops to the same lows online when confronting people who disagree with them; and that good memes are often hard to come by, but they do exist.

Despite the fact that I mostly didn’t care about the stuff people posted on their profiles, I nevertheless slowly incorporated checking in on Facebook into my daily routine. It might not be as high priority as handling emails, but it usually comes immediately after that when I boot up my computer in the morning. With enough people posting things or liking other people’s posts, there is bound to be something interesting that pops up when I log in. In particular, it’s always nice to see updates from friends I don’t talk to often enough, and I never forget birthdays when they appear at the top of the page.

If someone asked me whether I regretted getting on Facebook, I would probably have to answer, “meh.” I’d be a liar to say that Facebook is as tedious as I expected it to be all these years, and there are redeeming qualities to it. At the same time, however, I must say that Facebook has not become something essential for me. It wouldn’t bother me all that much if I forgot to check it today, or if it magically ceased to exist tomorrow.

Ultimately, my only problem with Facebook is that I’ve made it part of my routine, so I’m stuck with it now — but that’s kind of a me problem.

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