Column: Facing the ‘Facebook’

While the buff and blue clouds of our deficiency have staunched yet another chance to crack the Top 50, our University recently became blessed by its inclusion into an even grander gilt-edged medium of privilege. For those whose radar to the “scene” is hazier than a Thurston bathroom at half-past four, GW recently became one of the newest additions to the social phenomenon known as The Facebook.

The site, www.thefacebook.com, is a web-based social network (hence the web address smart people) by which students, and even alumni who are unable to let go, can connect to each other by mutual associations such as common interests, political ethos and class schedules.

So what does it all mean? Well, for one, it provides a guilty pleasure irresistible to the college socialite, as well a way to procrastinate, flirt, stalk and validate one’s social standing by amassing a wealth of “Facebook friends.”

The initial progression was staggered. Some of us jumped on board in an instant. The Facebook, originally available almost exclusively to Ivy League universities, served as a rite of passage into academic credibility, working against that heavy chip on some shoulders about our second tier standing. By the end of the first day of classes, GW enlisted 3,338 registered users. One week later, the number sits above 4,250.

Others were more hesitant. There was that stigma about doing the “online thing,” the ultimate succumbing accompanied by excuses such as “all these people kept sending me e-mails to join,” which we all know to be complete poppycock, and the inevitable apologist? “I got really bored the other night so…” excuse. The latter excuse, of course, places The Facebook fa?ade into its full effect.

Once you sign on, you can no longer plead indifference. The thrill manifests itself: you must get friends; you must know who your ex is friends with and judge accordingly and suspiciously; you must check your personal profile at least four to six times during each log-in to make sure you look cool, or at least, respectable to strangers. Strangers, who you think don’t know you, but you wish with longing that they did; strangers you are certain will be looking on to see you and your profile in all its splendor and will then realize what they have been missing.

In your deepest wishful fantasies, the next time you appear at J Street, they will throw you that ever-reverent head nod and justify the hours you’ve spent pining over their acceptance. I could be wrong. But I believe if you look heavy within your heart, you will call yourself out for what you are. An addict.

One must be cognizant of the plight of those stricken with Facebook pathosis, extending sympathy to those who constitute the caste of Facebook users I like to label “Facebook whores.” They hoard friends compulsively. If you happened to sneeze next to this person while in line at Starbucks, they have probably requested you to be their friend. And there are 200 more just like you.

Extremes also exist on the other side of the spectrum. There are some who are “too cool for school.” These are the people who are “different.” You never really see them on campus anyway. Unlike you, they joined Facebook but do not check their accounts at least three times a day like the number of times you are supposed to routinely brush your teeth, but never do. You do manage, however, to fit The Facebook in. Don’t you?

I have personally remedied this problem by brushing my teeth with each respective Facebook log-in and am actually pictured doing so in my profile photo. I also recognize what a horrific tool this makes me, but you are reading my column, so what does that make you?

But I digress. In the end, Facebook has the potential to change everything. It could become our social iPods, indispensable to our petty lives, or mine at least, making us feel incomplete on even the slightest of hiatus. Likewise, it could also pass on like the other fads of our time such as popped collars and contraception. The answer will either come in due course or when GW starts charging us for it instead.

-The writer is a senior majoring in Middle Eastern studies.

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