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Assignment 9: The Social Network and “Generation Facebook”

Facebook is a great tool for keeping in touch and connecting with friends and family in a instant fashion that is revolutionary for the history of man.  But as Zadie Smith argues about the quality of relationships made and kept on Facebook, in her critique of Mark Zuckerberg, The movie “The Social Network” and the “Facebook generation:” “The quality of that connection, the quality of the information that passes through it, the quality of the relationship that connection permits—none of this is important. That a lot of social networking software explicitly encourages people to make weak, superficial connections with each other (as Malcolm Gladwell has recently argued), and that this might not be an entirely positive thing…”

As a member of the “Facebook generation,” I can 100% agree with Zadie in that most relationships on Facebook are purely superficial, and are created plainly for status, popularity, and out of courtesy.  I mean  there are a lot of relationships on Facebook that are between legitimate  friends that just want to share their relationship online vs. in-person, others use it to keep in touch with friends that are separated for some reason and use the platform as a easy way to keep in touch, but there are more that are created for the sole purpose of having a lot of friends and to be popular. A prime example of most relationships on Facebook  can be understood from a conversation from the movie “The Social Network:”

“Mark Zuckerberg: ‘Relationship status’. ‘Interested in’. This is what drives life at college. Are you having sex or aren’t you. It’s why people take certain classes and sit where they sit and do what they do, and it’s um…center, you know, that’s what TheFacebook is gonna be about. People are gonna log on because after all the cake and watermelon there’s a chance they’re actually gonna…
Eduardo Saverin: …gonna get laid.
Mark Zuckerberg: …meet a girl. Yes.
Eduardo Saverin: That is really good.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     (The Social Network)”

The video below characterizes the parodies of Facebook really well:

So I guess the question that needs to be answered is “if Facebook is such a parody then why do people continue to use it?” This can be answered simply by a quote from the Young and the Digital: ” seems like everyone uses it [Facebook] to do things now,”… “What would I be missing if I weren’t on it? (The Young & The Digital pg xv)” and with ” Three-quarters of the people in our survey visit a social-networking site at least once a day (The Young and The Digital pg.xv)”, the answer is some people think that they will miss a lot, since as 24 year old Kendra exclaims in her interview “I am on MySpace all Day! (The Young & The Digital pg. xv ).”

Zadie Smith argues that Facebook and the relationships that are maintained via its platform may not be an entirely positive thing, while Mark Zuckerberg claims “The thing that we are trying to do at Facebook, is just help people connect and communicate more efficiently.” Many people think that social networking sites will cripple the ability of the current generations to make meaningful personal relationships, and will create a population that can only survive with the internet, but as with many things only time will tell.

 

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