What are the first few things you do when you wake up in the morning? Do you stretch and yawn? Do you pray? Do you head to the bathroom for the normal brush and wash routine? For millions of Americans, youth and adult alike, I believe it’s safe to say that integrated in their morning routine is checking their Facebook account. My morning goes as follows: what are my Facebook friends doing or saying this morning? Any funny Youtube or Vine videos to check out? A blog on 18 things single people don’t have time for; oh man I HAVE to check that out! NO, stop inviting me play Candy Crush! Confirm…confirm…deny.
Facebook is a social media website designed to network with friends, family, business associates, potential suitors, and any group or fan-page that can be thought of etc. A typical Facebook account includes personal photos in various environments, some basic info including: hobbies, employment status, schooling and honestly, whatever is desired to communicate to the online community. There’s also the option of making a profile private so that only the account holder can choose who gets to see their Facebook activity. They can post status updates, comment on other’s, “like” just about anything, post videos or links, get news updates – that are sometimes fake. Overall, Facebook offers society the ability to communicate with the world around them, even from their toilet if they so chose, with the advances of wireless technology.
Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg along with his college roommates and fellow Harvard University student Eduardo Saverin. A movie called The Social Network was created surrounding the story. Launching in February of 2004, the website’s membership was originally limited to Harvard University students only. By September of 2006, after vast growth in popularity amongst other Ivy League Universities, Facebook membership opened up to anyone above the age of 13 who had a valid email address. After this point, the flood gates opened.
It’s easy to see how Facebook can be considered pop culture as it arose from the depths of youthful angst wielding a shovel to bludgeon and bury his cousin Myspace, but what about now? Can Facebook be considered pop culture any longer or has it adapted into something more status quo; something more mainstream? An article on Wikipedia defining pop culture states that “Traditionally, the term has denoted the education and general ‘culturedness’ of the lower classes, as opposed to the ‘official culture’ and higher of the education emanated by the dominant classes.” To put it simply, pop culture was originally perceived to be “low culture” for the lower class as opposed to “culture” carried out by the higher classes in society. Ironically, Facebook spawned from the Harvard elite and dwindled down to the common. So how does this definition work in society today in terms of Facebook? I can see Facebook being more accurately considered “pop culture” after it’s inception, being that it was initially geared towards sexually charged and rambunctious college students, (don’t worry I throw myself into that category too), but today the tides have seemed to shift. Facebook is a social media tool used by almost everyone and their mother; literally!
But could we have unknowingly awaken a sleeping giant? Upon examining Marshall McLuhan’s Medium is the Message, Mark Federman states
“Whenever we create a new innovation – be it an invention or a new idea – many of its properties are fairly obvious to us… But it is also often the case that, after a long period of time and experience with the new innovation, we look backward and realize that there were some effects of which we were entirely unaware at the outset.”
Facebook has always been an obvious enticement, but has something else been brewing beneath the surface? Have we been inundated with this luxury of keeping virtually connected for so long that we have been overtaken by effects in which we did not foresee when we clicked “Register”? How often do you check your Facebook daily? Once? Twice? One-hundred eighty eight times? It seems that our society, myself included, have become engrossed with this itch that we must scratch. Being marionettes to obsession’s puppeteer, we check our Facebook accounts while driving, out to eat with others, walking down a crowded city street, again on the toilet, laying in bed with a significant other, as long as we have the signal on our smartphones or wifi for our MacBooks, opportunity is always there to meet desire – a thirst to be connected.
But what are we thirsty for and how is Facebook seemingly quenching that thirst and finally, why are we ravenous for more directly after consuming a gallon? I believe that self-worth is involved for some. Why isn’t a relationship official unless it’s “Facebook official”? I’ve found that too many times, the opinions of others are needed to give someone validation. If the perfect angle on a “selfie” is achieved, many believe they will be perceived as beautiful enough to gain acceptance and attention from others. Facebook has now given us the ability to fabricate our interactions with other people. Many represent themselves in such a way to obtain approval amongst culture in society. Whether their motive, unconscious or conscious, is to fill a void, to be in the know amongst peers, or to stay in touch with some family or friends that they can’t see often, the point is that Facebook has become the avenue in which the majority of our society interacts with one another on a daily basis. A recent statistical poll states, “As of the third quarter of 2014, Facebook had 1.35 billion monthly active users.” From the birth pangs of pop culture to the maturation into culture, Facebook is so imbedded in our society that I don’t foresee it going anywhere anytime soon. Parents might as well make their newborns an account, because they’ll most like have one in a few years anyway.