Making it a family affair

I’ll be the first to admit it: I’ve wasted more hours than I can count on Facebook. But when I first joined the social networking site back in the summer of 2006, I never thought it would become such a huge craze.

At first, I had a lot of fun creating my profile; I uploaded pictures of my friends on the last day of high school and at prom, I searched for friends I hadn’t seen since I graduated elementary school, and when my friends left for their first year of college, I was able to easily stay in touch with them by posting on
their Facebook walls.

When Facebook launched in 2004 (it was called “the Facebook”), it was only open to college students; you had to have a legitimate college e-mail address to join. But in September 2006, only two months after I joined, the site began allowing anyone with an e-mail address to create a profile.

I had liked the fact that Facebook seemed like a place where I could talk to other students my age; and since you needed a school e-mail address to join, I felt like the site was a lot safer than Myspace, where anyone could make a profile. Unlike Myspace, where I would delete friend requests from random people, I often used to accept Facebook friend requests from St. John’s students I didn’t know (or had only met once) in person as a way of meeting new people in school. And because a lot of the friends I’ve made at St. John’s have completely different schedules than I do, Facebook has allowed me to keep in touch with them during hectic semesters.

And it’s not just anyone who’s sending friend requests. Recently, it seems I hear from everyone that some of their family members (parents, aunts, uncles, etc.) made their own profiles; even some of my own family members have done this. While I don’t mind being friends with my younger sister and my cousins who are around my age, I am a bit uncomfortable with other family members joining Facebook; it seems like an invasion of privacy to me. Facebook started out as a place where I could joke around with friends without having to worry that what I said would be monitored by my family members. I know that I’d rather not have to think twice about what I post on my profile because a family member might see it and comment on it. Facebook was created to give college students a forum where they could connect with other students their age and express themselves, but with family members joining the site, it loses part of what originally
made it so fun.

But if family members do send me “friend requests,” I’ve felt obligated to add them as friends because they are related to me, and I don’t want to hurt their feelings. However, if this happens to you, you might want to think about going into your privacy settings and allowing your family members to only see your “limited profile.” This way, you can remain friends with them, but you can control what parts of your profile they’re able to see.

Not only are family members joining the social networking site, it turns out that a lot of employers (and even college administrators) join Facebook too as a way of checking up on potential (or current) employees or students. Because of this, it is imperative that you are careful when uploading photos of yourself or joining groups. You also have to watch what others have uploaded about you too, because it will also show up on your profile for others to see.

The growing number of employers joining Facebook can work to your benefit, though. I’m friends with many of my former employers from the part-time jobs and internships I’ve had over the last few years. Facebook is a good way to network and become aware of any new jobs that might become available.

Last semester, The Torch staff made our own Facebook profile and Twitter page. I think that this will prove a successful way of reaching out to more St. John’s students than we ever have before. (Make sure you add us! On Facebook, our name is Torch Editorial Board, and on Twitter we’re SJUTorch.)

Furthermore, the ability to use Facebook (and Twitter) can come in handy as a useful skill because a lot of companies have their own profiles that need to be constantly updated. For example, right now, I’m interning at a Web site that has both a Facebook profile and a Twitter page; it’s one of the intern’s main responsibilities to update both.

So, maybe all of the hours I’ve wasted on Facebook haven’t been completely wasted after all; at least that’s what I’ll tell myself from now on!