The Facebook Effect… Really?


In the Bucknell Org Theory 09′ blog, Geoff wrote about Facebook in his post The Facebook Effect and I couldn’t disagree more with so much about this post. The crux of his argument is that Facebook and Twitter are “fulfilling fantasies of subscribers” in the same way that a virtual world would, this is so very wrong.

His first paragraph I do agree with, he states that subscribers of virtual worlds, such as World Of Warcraft and Second Life, to create “Second-Personalities” and escape the real world. I believe this is very true, and even I was once bit by the MMO bug and played these games to forget about my problems for a couple hours a day. In his next paragraph, however, it all starts to go wrong.

Geoff states that these virtual worlds have (in 2009) started to take a new shape in the form of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. I would argue that people don’t go on Facebook to emerse themselves in a world that is not their own and become someone they are not, they do it to learn more about their world and use it as an extension of who they are. You see what your friends are up to and tell friends what you are up to. You use social media communicate with people who you couldn’t due to physical boundaries and you don’t interact with people that you haven’t already had an in-person conversation with.

Geoff also uses the comparison that people get addicted to Facebook in the same way that they get addicted to MMO games. It is true that some people may spend more time on Facebook than they should (and it is definitely true that they spend more time playing MMO games than they should) but spending an extra hour looking at pictures your friends took while they are abroad is actually useful to your real life, as opposed to spending an hour trying to down a dungeon boss, when you see your friend at a party, you can ask him how cool it was to see that lion in Africa. These social media sites are not virtual worlds to escape too, they are online tools that enhance your real world.

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4 Responses to The Facebook Effect… Really?

  1. JWitty says:

    Rick,

    I have to say that I agree with you on this one. An argument that facebook is more a less a form of gaming seems faulty from the get-go. Interestingly enough, I sat in on a well-researched presentation on facebook at my internship this summer. While most of their findings seemed pretty straight forward, I distinctly remember one interesting aspect of the research. Essentially, they found that people seek to present themselves in various ways via facebook, in hopes that people will begin to perceive them as such. For instance, I recall one case where a girl was an avid student, and only went out on occasion. However, she tailored her profile to portray this image of a fun-yet-studious type. On her page, the only pictures that remained tagged were those of her in social occasions. She did not wish to be viewed as a nerd by her peers, and made the necessary adjustments to display that image. On that end, I would agree that people use facebook to enhance their persona, not to create entirely new ones. I believe that could be considered fraud in certain cases…

    • RickE says:

      However, you could also make the argument that people have always tried to present themselves in hopes that people will perceive them as such, even before Facebook existed. They dress and act in certain ways to “enhance” their persona, Facebook didn’t start this.

  2. katiebaum13 says:

    I agree with this blog. Social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter act as a means of connecting you with other people. One is able to connect with and stay in touch with old friends, new friends, co-workers, etc. I think that although people may spend too much time on these websites and it does waste time, it also has a lot of positive aspects that outweigh the negative ones. I also think that the point Jwitty made is very interesting and had never thought about Facebook in that way and the many other reasons why people use these types of social media websites.

  3. awhigbee says:

    Facebook and gaming are completely different. In creating your “second personality” on a gaming site, I assume that you can choose whatever you want to represent you. On Facebook there is no point to creating a second personality. When you create a second personality in a game it is so you can achieve the goals of the game and not necessarily to social network. On Facebook I can be a death metal fan if I want, but unless I genuinely want to connect to death metal fans (in which case why not just actually be a fan?) it not bring any other results.

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