Spring 2013 Articles

Facebook’s death grip

Facebook—the distracted student’s worst enemy—has a devilish hold on N.C. State’s undergraduate community.

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The Pack Poll found that 91% of Wolfpack undergraduates have a Facebook profile that they regularly access. Mark Zuckerburg’s brainchild has over one billion monthly active users around the world, according to Facebook’s Key Facts. However, the Pew Internet and American Life Project has found that there is considerable volatility in Facebook user pool. Out of the 67% of American adults that use Facebook, “61% say that at one time or another in the past they have voluntarily taken a break from using Facebook for a period of several weeks or more.”

Americans are tired of Facebook. The most common reasons for taking a break include being too busy (21%), disinterested users (10%), or using Facebook was waste of time (10%).

Although, Facebook use and favorability may be in a decline, Internet accessibility data suggests that the World Wide Web usage will only increase. According to Pew Research, as of September, 2012, over 80% of American Adults use the Internet, and 66% have access to broadband Internet as of April 2012. On N.C. State’s campus, all students have access to the Internet, and success in the classroom almost always requires using Internet resources. But, if we aren’t wasting our time on Facebook, what are we doing on the Internet?

Besides a slew of other social media sites, as the web continues to develop, the line between interaction and information will become increasingly blurred.

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The Internet has a nearly ubiquitous social layer. Even the Pack Poll site has a comments section that’s socially engaging. However, most sites and applications prioritize their goals to either broadcast or socially engage before they do the other. Developers mix and match, but there is usually a clear purpose. Twitter, for example, is interesting because it is meant to socially engage with users by having them locally tweet, retweet or favorite. Many users, though, use Twitter like a T.V. only viewing their stream to see what others are broadcasting, whether that be akin to reality T.V. or cable news.

The point is that if the entire Internet is moving down an interactive and engaging pipeline what sets Facebook apart?

Stay tuned for part two my analysis next week. I’d love to meet you on Twitter, as well.

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