I’ve Just Seen A Face

Chances are I’ve seen you on The Facebook, an online directory of students from universities across the country. It’s a new tool of communication that has changed some aspects of social interaction and created new opportunities for meeting people. As a member, you may receive messages from students offering you their online friendship. If you’re like me, you accept them. Call it desperation, curiosity, boredom. The Facebook fangs are deep in our necks with the freshman class alone represented by more than 1,000 members.

If the monkey gets too heavy on your back, I’ve got some tips for treatment. The first step towards recovery is admitting you have a problem. Back away from your greasy keyboard, take a deep breath, and say, “I’m a Facebook fiend.” Good. You’re on your way. Feel that twitch in your index finger, that nauseating pit-of-the-stomach hum? Ignore it. The other option is to wait it out; ride the addiction for the two weeks or so, so that you’re interested and quit cold turkey once your attention is drawn to something new – the iPod Shuffle, the Super Bowl, or Iraq. Some just don’t understand the appeal: spending pointless hours editing profile information and conducting global searches for the girl you fell in love with at summer camp when you were 14-years-old. Here are some of the features included in the free account:

(1) Group membership: Depending on your interests, The Facebook allows users to join groups or create one of their own, like “Kitchen Silverware Appreciation,” “Ron Popeil is God,” or “An Episode of Walker Texas Ranger Changed My Life.” There are dozens of common interest groups connecting members with similar personalities. You never have to leave the dorm again, except of course to pick up your Domino’s order.

(2) “Six degrees from … :” When viewing a user’s profile, this feature shows you what links you have to that person based on the Facebook mutual friend web. This gives you an excuse to message Psych 001 Stacy without being labeled as a stalker. “Oh, I know you through … She’s a friend of mine.”

(3) Picture association: Along with sharing useless facts about yourself, you may also include a picture. Whether you choose to post a serious self-portrait or a ridiculous image is up to you. Sean Hutchinson recently changed his picture from a black-and-white photo of Rutherford B. Hayes to a glamour shot of Richard Dreyfuss on the set of “Jaws.” Brady Gomard-Henshaw has had everything from some guy dressed in the “Rocketeer” outfit, to Chuck Norris, to LeVar Burton as Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge from Star Trek. Get creative with Google.

(4) “These are a Few of My Favorite Things:” Create a list of your “desert island” books, movies, and music – those you can’t live without. Each artist, film, or piece of literature on the list is an active link directing you to the names of students with the same item in their profile. An interesting side note: out of all UVM students on The Facebook, the link to “Gigli” produces only two hits, one of which appears to be Doogie Howser, MD. The same amount of people listed “farting” as an interest. The more involved you become, the more you’ll discover about the service. My own interest has diminished drastically since my first taste, but I still consider myself a part of the community. Some users exist for the sole purpose of mocking The Facebook, like Brady. Others refuse to join because it seems like a superficial fad, a temporary trend and a waste of time. They’re probably right, but it’s still fun.