By Mairi Hughes
‘He only has 3 likes on his profile picture.’
An unimpressed tone is taken by the girl across from me on the train as her and her friend cyber stalk some unknowing boy on their cherished iPhones, immediately ruling him out of being of any interest to them based on his Facebook popularity.
With statistics released in October this year by Digital Marketing Ramblings stating that Facebook now has 1.35 billion monthly active users and The Guardian revealing that more than a third of Britain is using Facebook every day, it is obvious that society is becoming more and more obsessed with social networking. Who doesn’t love Facebook? However, this obsession with Facebook does have its down sides; the most pressing being the privacy it takes away from us.
With the constant access to Facebook which the majority of us have – 556 million people now have access to Facebook on their phone or tablet according to the Guardian – comes an apparent need for us to constantly update our online personas.
Having started university this year and met a huge amount of new people, a large amount of new Facebook friends came along with this. I must admit that avoiding being sucked into this obsession with online persona is tricky and, as my Facebook friends list grew, so did the amount of time I spent updating my own online persona as well as ‘Facebook creeping’, finding it difficult to avoid making predispositions of my new friends based on their Facebook profiles.
‘You can totally reinvent yourself at university’, I was told by my school Biology teacher before I embarked on university life.
Although starting university 20 years ago may have meant having a totally fresh start and being able to meet people who had no preconceptions of you whatsoever, this is now almost impossible with the use of social networking such as Facebook.
‘Joe King likes Artic Monkeys’, ‘Joe King went to the event ‘my 18th’’, ‘Joe King is in a relationship’. The amount of personal information available to someone once you click the ‘confirm friend’ button is almost endless.
Social networking puts our every move under the scrutiny of our peers and tempts people into basing their opinion of someone purely on their latest status update. Let’s face it; everyone’s going to think you’re a bit weird if you’re a member of ‘Benjyo Soujer’ – a Japanese Facebook group that meets to clean public toilets.
However, before you spend endless minutes contemplating what filter to use on your new profile picture before posting it, or continually refreshing your notifications to see whose liked it once you have; my advice would be to try not to obsess over your online persona and lay off judging others based on theirs. Keep the Facebook creeping to a bare minimum and get to know people before you stalk their profiles, bearing in mind the cringe-worthy things which may be stumbled upon on your own Facebook profile after a thorough enough creeping before judging others based on what’s on theirs.}