Oh my God, I am so popular.I have 54 notifications and 3 messages, and all in the time that my computer’s been closed for this marketing class. Suddenly, a swirl of resounding disappointment comes over me as I realize that 99% of them are from school groups. No comment. Literally.
In the past, I used to have to force myself to stay off Facebook for the sake of my schoolwork, but now I have to coerce myself to respond to my newfound group-mates. Whatever happened to the personalized, once-a-week meetings? Now I find myself talking to my groups on the hour, every hour. They’re worse than the needy girlfriend who demands a personalized Twitter feed of your life via iMessage. As our digital and IRL lives converge, U3 Marie Turk explained to me that, “It seems very normal and common to create a private group to share info on the project,“ and this year, I’m in 4 groups of 7 people. That means that in addition to my social life, I have to be in contact with 28 people on a daily basis, amounting to what feels like a part-time job.
Facebook has all but doubled my need to keep in touch with others. A few hours offline and I’m suddenly behind—not socially, but academically. To my avail, meeting times that were once agreed upon in person and written in my agenda are changed five times. U2 Gabriel Gougaud explained, “Facebook for group work just allows us to save so much time. It is very useful to share links, videos, texts, correct each other mistakes, in a more pleasant way than just sharing Google docs.” Yet I can’t help but feel frustrated; while Facebook does allow for collaboration and communication, perhaps it’s allowed for too much.
We’ve crossed the line between professional peers and casual colleagues. In fact, we’ve developed our own Facebook personas. One of my fellow group members, U2 Mor Pecht explained that, “I [have] found some peoples different Facebook habits hindering…there are still students who don’t check their accounts regularly. This goes against the ‘most easy way to reach people’ vibe that Facebook groups have created.” There exist those who over-post ideas and comments, and worse, the “liker”, the person who contributes nothing but a thumbs-up to others’ hard work and ideas. In the end, it’s definitely quality over quantity, but please, say something.
All this goes to show that perhaps Facebook isn’t making our lives any easier. Lately, I’ve been feeling a desire to go back to our roots, to the Stone Age of communication. I’m talking landlines, posters, and paper agendas, and I’m not alone; Turk explained that she “used to immediately check my notifications see what was posted. Now I’m just annoyed at it because I’m always reminded of all the work I have to do.”
For others, it’s quite the opposite. Spending hours on our accounts, Facebook creates a dangerous connection for us social butterflies, as it merges our social lives with our academics. After talking to U2 Alexandra Henein, “If you let yourself get even just a little bit distracted, you can find yourself looking at photos, stalking your ex(es), playing a stupid game, watching a video and it can just never end, which can be disastrous with all the deadlines we have to meet.”
Speaking of deadlines and professionalism, while we were all warned that our employers might be checking out our Facebook, the tides have turned. According to Gougaud, we can now use Facebook to “stalk [our] group members before meeting them so you have a better idea who you are going to deal with.” Say you can’t make it to the group meeting and one hour later, a Drunkstigram lets us know where you were last night. Suddenly, you’re accountable and your peer review grades will surely reflect this.
Notifications are no longer a beacon of hope distracting us from our finance homework, but a hassle requiring constant vigilance. We could all use a lesson in group etiquette on Facebook. Keep your posts wise, witty, congenial, and timely. Together, we can all make Facebook fun again.