Facebook popularity soars despite drama, distractions

Facebook popularity soars despite drama, distractions

Sophomores Olivia Fisher, Kerrianne Ryan and Zachery Morgan demonstrate how some students become preoccupied with Faceboook activities.

Logging on to Facebook to check your account once a day is one thing, but when Fairmont students are spending the majority of their time on the website and ignoring their main priorities, it can get out of hand.

Facebook was created by Mark Zuckerburg in 2004. Originally, it was only supposed to be a social networking site for Harvard University, but as word spread, it became extremely popular and has now taken the world by storm. As the demand for the site increased and it became well-known throughout colleges across the United States, Facebook decided to open its doors to high school students in 2005. Then, in 2006, the site opened to anyone who wanted an account and was 13 or older.

Today, Facebook is the most popular social networking site in the world, with more than 500 million users. Even though the 35-54 age group is the largest group on Facebook, teens are the fastest growing group on website. Most every teen knows or has heard about Facebook and a lot of them have an account as well.

At Fairmont High School, 37 advisories were randomly surveyed to see how many students have a Facebook. Out of the 631 students, 548 said they have a Facebook. So what is it about Facebook that drives 87 percent of Fairmont students and millions of others to the site?

Old friends, new friends and games

“I like having a Facebook page because I get to talk with my current friends, and I get to chat with the people I don’t normally text,” said sophomore Jeremy Evans.

Sophomore Victoria Jump agrees with Jeremy. She has friends who live in a different state and she likes to keep in touch with them. “I used to go to a private school and lost touch with my old friends, so I got a Facebook earlier this year and now I use it to reconnect with them,” she said.

Sophomore Bree Hood likes some of the other things found on Facebook. “I like the fact Facebook offers games and the choice of requesting a friend or denying a friend request. I also enjoy talking to the different types of people on Facebook and meeting new friends as well,” she said.

Just as some teens feel Facebook is a good source to use now, others believe it’s very useful once you grow up and enter the real world. Freshman Austin Broedling already knows how Facebook will help him after high school. “Having an account is a great way to keep in touch with friends after you’ve graduated. Also, when everyone has a job, you can use Facebook to keep in contact with your boss and employees at work,” Broedling said.

Then there’s the drama …

While many users are perfectly content with their Facebook experience, other users have their concerns. Facebook not only allows users to send personal messages to their friends, but it also allows them to post comments that all their Facebook friends can see. This has become a problem and has affected many Fairmont students’ views of the website.

When a user posts a thoughtless or unfriendly comment about someone else on Facebook, it sometimes leads to controversy or hurt feelings. Sophomore Zachery Morgan feels these comments left on Facebook can get out of hand. “I hate the rude Facebook updates about other people and how some users make bad remarks toward people,” he said.

Evans agrees with Morgan. He feels comments on the social networking site cause unnecessary arguments and that many students tend to not act like themselves. “I don’t like the drama caused on Facebook, and I don’t like how people will say so much more on Facebook than they actually would in person,” he said. Evans feels students talk more on Facebook and also release more information about themselves than they normally would when having a face-to-face conversation.

And the distractions …

More than 35 million users update their account every day, leading some to wonder what so many people could possibly have to say each day.

Sophomore Kayla Elliott feels Fairmont students use Facebook for school-related purposes more than socializing. “I think a lot of people use the website for finding out what the homework was, comparing answers and even cheating off other people’s finished homework assignments,” she said.

In fact, some wonder if cheating has grown because students are spending too much time on Facebook and not enough on their homework. Studies show that teens between the ages of 15 and 17 with a Facebook spend almost 20 hours a week on the site, about a half a work week for the average adult. So now the question has become: Is the amount of time students are spending on their school activities being negatively affected by the amount of time they are spending on their Facebook page?

Evans says his Facebook time does take a toll. “Facebook has definitely caused me to procrastinate instead of doing my schoolwork all the time,” he said. “I feel this happens sometimes because once I get on the computer to look up something, I decide to get on Facebook. Then, I stay on there for so long and get caught up with talking to people.”

Evans gets distracted on Facebook by talking to all of his friends, but other students get caught up on different issues on the website. Sophomore Gabrielle Norrod says she loses track of time visiting other people’s pages. “The main reason why I usually spend a lot of my time on Facebook rather than doing schoolwork is because I can easily spend hours looking at a video clip or someone’s pictures,” she said.

Other students, including Hood, don’t let the social networking site get in the way of their daily routine. “Facebook doesn’t interfere with my schoolwork because I’m not on their website 24/7 like a lot of other people,” Hood said. “I like feel a big reason why a lot of people are on Facebook so much is because they are overly obsessive and have to post what they are doing all the time.”

Some choose to ‘unplug’

Some students, however, have decided not to live with the drama and distraction of Facebook at all. Junior Brandon Howard deactivated his account because he felt it interfered with his schoolwork and he was tired of people posting a lot of nonsense comments on their walls. “I dislike that people post whatever they want on Facebook and that you’re always reading things you don’t want to read,” he said. “Having a Facebook interfered with my homework a lot and I was getting distracted. So, I decided it would be best to deactivate my account.”

Since the majority of Fairmont students have already jumped on to the Facebook bandwagon and are using it constantly, each student will have to decide how much the distraction and drama matters. Morgan certainly has perspective as to why the site is so addictive. “The ease of talking with your friends over Facebook is easier than meeting in person,” he said. “The amount of time can fly by without the user even knowing.”