We all know it to be true: the second our computers and laptops connect to the Internet, all we have to do it type in the letter F and Facebook’s main page pops up on the screen. Whether we’re uploading a new album from last weekend’s festivities, creating an event, or re-establishing our reign as Procrastination Queen, Facebook is the go-to social networking site for college students.
But there’s another, undeniable reason we use this e-hotspot: to look up the profiles, pictures, and wall posts of basically anyone we want, or ‘Facebook stalk’ as we tend to call it.
Wasn’t the website created to re-connect users with old friends and help stay in touch with newer ones? How did the shift from Internet-based friendship circles transform into the social norm of analyzing other people’s circles, or keeping up with our latest crush?
Brad DePrima, a junior film, video, and interactive media major at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn. believes the site’s popularity and usability accounts for the ‘stalking’ trend.
‘I think Facebook is easily the most accessible social networking around,” DePrima said via e-mail. “Now with phones, iPods, and laptops, most people have at least one of these devices on them 24/7 so it’s easier to ‘stalk.’”
DePrima is right- the major shift from Internet plug-ins to handheld wireless items has spread fast and revolutionized the world of technology. According to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), an increase of 15 million wireless users occurred in 2008, totaling 270 million users for the year. By the end of 2010, the semi-annual CTIA Wireless Industry Survey said there were over 290 million wireless subscribers.
With such a huge increase in wireless connection reliance and the ease of finding information, Facebook has become not only easily accessible, but a prime spot to learn about someone. Want to know what that cute guy’s major is? Check his profile. Does he have a girlfriend? Take a look at his relationship status. The information outlet provided on the site and the ‘I’ve got nothing to hide’ attitude of many college students allows for many Facebook pages to be a complete inside look on your personal life.
Quinnipiac sophomore biomedical science major Catie Tobin thinks the media plays a big role in what we look for on Facebook and why ‘stalking’ has become so normal.
“The media is always telling us what’s cool and what’s not cool, and now with the Facebook pages for different topics and companies, we have an outlet to do the same thing,” Tobin said. “We can see what others are ‘liking’ and make our own opinion about it.”
We might all be guilty of ‘stalking’ once in a while, but as young women soon entering the professional world, we should always be cautious of what others will find if we become the ‘stalkee’. So clean up your page a bit and feel worry-free the next time you log on, Procrastination Queen!
— By Tracy Diamond, Quinnipiac University