It’s Facebook official. We are friends. Yea, you heard me. That really hot guy with the dreamy eyes, flippy hair, six pack, and gorgeous smile. He friend requested me. I took a screenshot of it, saved it, printed it, and put it in my wallet (too much).
Go on your Facebook account, scroll through your friends list and it is most likely that you have never said a word to some of those “friends” of yours. Maybe you’ve never even seen them aside from their Facebook photos which you may have “stalked” and drooled over. Don’t be that guy or girl.
Relationships amongst teenagers have grown more and more virtual with the creation of the social networking website, Facebook. For some teens, the screen is a shield, allowing teens to share their best qualities with the world while hiding their insecurities.
Through the Internet, character is defined by words, with which people are rather confident. But come face to face with maybe that “virtual lover” of yours and try and repeat all those things you told him or her over Facebook chat. “I love you,” “you’re beautiful,” “I want to spend every moment of my life with you.” Funny… No way the words will come out away from the screen.
Don’t set yourself a trap to fall into the black hole awkwardness.
The Popularity Request
“On Facebook I have around 900 friends and I only got an account about a year ago,” junior Adam King said. King admits that some of these people are somewhat strangers to him.
“A lot of times I’ll friend request seniors that I think are like… you know… really pretty and cool even though I’ve never met them.” King said.
This young man’s heart skips a beat or two every time he gets “Facebook action” from these seniors.
“There have been times where a senior has poked me or written on my wall and even though I don’t know them, I know they have a high popularity status so I’ll like freak and take a picture of it on my phone, and I already have a few on my phone saved…” King confessed with a goofy smile as he looked at a screenshot on his phone.
King feels that these screenshots are only fun little bragging tokens that he can use with his friends. While King’s Facebook actions are innocent and silly, the concept of adding a stranger has at times started as a playful joke and escalated to what high school students call “sketchiness”.
The Obsessive Stalking
Senior Emma Philips was requested on Facebook by a male student whom she had never met, but had heard interesting and humorous stories about. Her friend Aggie Tang playfully encouraged her to accept the request. “He was tryin’ to mack on Emma!” Tang said, jokingly.
Little did they know that he would soon be all over her profile, commenting on everything, “liking” everything (pictures included…) and “poking” her. This is when the red flag should go up and the sirens should go off. Stranger danger senses should be activated.
“Did he really think it was socially acceptable to like all of my profile pictures and stuff? It’s not acceptable because I don’t know him!” Philips said. And Philips isn’t the only victim of this young man’s Facebook approaches.
Junior Anna Pan received messages repeatedly from him with flirtatious messages, including “Hey, sexy”.
Students need to be reminded that Facebook is like putting your personal life on display at an art museum.
Just pause and think about the similarities between Facebook and your local art venue. Everyone has been to a museum at least once. Every one has seen your profile at least once. The museum displays are available to the whole world. As is your profile.
Beware and Avoid the Trouble
For the above reasons, altering privacy settings so that your profile remains as hidden as possible is highly recommended. A group of safety specialist who publish their information on the Yahoo website, Yahoo Safety Experts, released a statement to the parents of teen Facebook users.
“When you sit down with your teens to help them set their Facebook privacy settings, the quantity and type of settings can be overwhelming. Take heart. By focusing on the three key areas where your information is most likely to get away from you, you can simplify the process,” Yahoo Safety Experts said.
These three key areas are sticking with your close friends, keeping personal information private, and not letting your information get away from you.
DHS social studies teacher Peter Reilly, who is hardly active on Facebook, with a mere two valuable friends (his kids), is concerned that some students have too many “friends.”
“It’s like picking up a random penny on the ground. All you students are probably friends with like, random Joe Blow from Oklahoma who you just accepted without knowing. It really depends on how you define a friend,” Reilly said.
Too many friends is just one problem students can encounter with Facebook. DHS counselor Mary Hallisey describes the website as a public domain that can be damaging and requires careful use. The website is a source of information for not only peers but also colleges and employers.
“Colleges look at websites like Twitter and Facebook to see students’ image or persona. What they see could be make or break regarding admissions decisions,” Hallisey said.
Just think about it. You probably don’t want your college adviser seeing that one picture of you… from that one night…. Oh, boy. You stand warned.