Poked

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Recently while walking down the spine I heard a girl recount a story which had turned her life temporarily into a nightmare of constant embarrassments. She had set her Faceboook status as ‘** is having a baby’, meaning she was shocked. Unfortunately this was taken literally and she was inundated with hundreds of congratulatory messages on her wall including a couple of rather worried ones from her boyfriend and her sister. Intrigued I listened on as she described how every time she went to a lecture more people congratulated her, and the nightmare started again.
This is just a small example of how Facebook is taking over our lives, another being that when someone changes their relationship status it causes a wave of excitement in the social group, with everyone immediately trying to ‘stalk’ the new partner.

So what is Facebook? It was founded in 2004 by a Harvard Student and it’s a social networking group which allows people top list their personal details online and communicate with those in their ‘network’ and in their friends list. When it was first introduced to the UK it was quite an exclusive site, which you could only join if you were a student, but over the past two years it has grown into a national phenomenon. We are obsessed. You regularly hear people using the words ‘I stalked him’, ‘they added me as a friend’, ‘did you see their status?’ or ‘we’ll Facebook him later!’
But the recent additions of the countless applications are taking away the fun.

To be fair the ‘Anti stalker alert’ is just a joke to ward off potential stalkers. The first time I discovered it I was stalking a girl I barely knew, when suddenly my face filled the page with the caption ‘KATHRYN MOREY WAS HERE!’ My heart stopped as I thought about how strange it would look that I of all people was looking at her profile. For a brief moment I swore I would never stalk again. Until I clicked on it and realized it was a joke, cruel I thought.

The ‘rate me’ application for me is just plain stupid. I’d rather not know what someone rated me out of 10 and as for the ‘owned’ application I recently added, far from being fun – I didn’t understand it when a complete stranger bid on me for $1. Surely I’m worth more than that!

But the most worrying thing I’ve heard is that employers have been using the website as a way of checking out job applicants. I shudder to think what impression they would get of me when my statuses in the last have been, ‘Kathryn hates everyone right now’, ‘Kathryn never wants to look at another book again’, and ‘Kathryn is so angry she could kill someone’. Not a good choice for a future employee.

On a more serious note, their have been concerns of ‘real stalking’ going on in the Facebook world. Sex offenders thankfully have been banned from using it and all other social networking sites. But how do we know who is looking at our profile? It begs the question, how vulnerable are Facebook users? I recall a strange man added my friend, concerned that she knew him she accepted his friend request only to discover that he was 65 and his only friends were aged 16-20 from around the world. Quickly she removed and reported him leaving us a bit scared. Fortunately however, now you can limit your profile and report such ‘offenders’ which makes it feel a bit safer online. Even if the limited profiles do take the joy out of stalking.

It has to be asked, how far will Facebook continue to grow? Surely there can’t be any more applications; ‘make a baby’ would be a good place to stop. Soon we won’t need to leave our computers because we will actually be living in Facebook.