What is Facebook to You?

I’m reading David Kirkpatrick’s The Facebook Effect for my MA thesis; it’s been a fascinating, if not inspiring read. I dream of being a part of the whirlwind idea that Facebook was as it began in the dorm room of Mark Zuckerberg and his roomates. I highly recommend the book!

For all the things Facebook is to people, it was very interesting to see what these programmers and creators of the site thought it to be.

“The highly intellectual dropouts would spend endless hours debating what Thefacebook was actually doing. After all, there had never been a website quite like this before. They took a serious, almost grave view of the significance of what they were building. Zuckerburg referred to it as a directory of people. That was, he said, what he had originally set out to build. Parker put it more imaginatively. He said Thefacebook [sic: this was the original name] was a little device you carried around and pointed at people so it would tell you all about them. Cohler’s analogy was that it was like your cell phone – a gateway to the people in you life. Even back then they often heard the criticism that Thefacebook was a waste of time. Zuckerberg’s standard rebuttal: “Understanding people is not a waste of time.” He started saying that the goal of Thefacebook was “to help people understand the world around them.” (143)

It is interesting to read that Zuckerberg had such a nuanced and sensitive view of what his generation wanted at his age (he was 19 when he programmed the first version at Harvard). What Facebook has brought to our culture has been significant, no matter how one may individually use it. I think there is more to his last statement that is worth digging around in -in a cultural sense- then there is space for in this post.

What about for you? What is Facebook? Is it the place to understand others? A waste of time? Does it foster connectivity and relationships? How significantly does it fit into your life and relationships, if at all?

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~ by Brian Shope on September 1, 2010.

2 Responses to “What is Facebook to You?”

  1. Facebook to me is a way of pointlessly talking to friends for far too many hours- posting random memories on ‘walls’, the chat feature and the interaction status’ brings. Facebook, essentially, is pointless, but it’s the best waste of time ever invented.

    I’ve just re-read what I just wrote, and I sound rather like a middle-aged man. Oh dear Lord.

  2. Too funny! Very true; it can very much be time waster. In fact, I just saw a post that discusses FB use in “multi-tasking” young generations to be challenged by the decrease in GPA for users during studying…

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