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The face versus the facebook

By Jodi Elkin

Section: Features

November 7, 2008

IMAGE BY Max Shay/The Hoot

IMAGE BY Max Shay/The Hoot

So you’ve never met Suzy Smith in person, but in addition to her first and last name, you can list at least five of her friends and the fact that she’s in a relationship with some boy who goes to Princeton. You know she listens to Pink Floyd, and she loves to read books by Suzanne Supplee. You’ve casually viewed her most recent video and you’ve seen enough recent pictures to be able to point her out in a crowd. Then one day you see her walking around campus.

Do you say hi? Start a conversation, maybe? What if she’s totally weird and not nearly as cool as her choice in movies made her sound? Would she have no idea who you are and be totally freaked out that you’re even talking to her? Or have you posted enough of your own pictures to make yourself distinguishable as well?

Let’s face it- Facebook has essentially revolutionized the way people all around the world communicate. It has become a method of keeping in touch and meeting new people. So many of us are guilty of “friending” people we barely even know because we know we’ll be attending school with them in the near future or that we have a mutual friend or two.

Writing letters phased out years ago when e-mails were introduced, and even phone calls are less common now that you can leave your message right on your friend’s wall with the click of a button. Sure, it may be a little less personal, but who really has time to keep up with 600 plus friends anymore?

Plenty of current Brandeis freshmen took advantage of Facebook opportunities as soon as they got their acceptance letters. Alex Powell ’12 was one of them. After joining Facebook’s Brandeis network and a group made for the class of 2012, he started friending people, though he claims that he had no basis for choosing to friend certain people over others. He even went so far as to friend people’s friends, with the thought in mind that he may be friends with them in the near future.

“I would say now [that] I know most of the people I friended,” explained Powell. “I would say hi to most of them. Besides, most of them are either on my floor or in sports with me.”

Maxie Hirschler ’12 also friended athletes, or other people she thought “had similar interests as her.” Looking back at her list of Brandeis friends whose faces she clicked on before her first month here, she admitted, “most of them I would say hi to, but the majority I wouldn’t. I didn’t delete anyone though; that would be mean.” Hirschler thinks meeting someone on Facebook is definitely different than meeting someone in person, but it’s more comfortable to know faces and to have had a few conversations with people before entering a completely new place.

“I didn’t want to get here and not know anyone,” she added.

Hirschler’s roommate, Caroline Miller ’12, explained that the two girls became closer through Facebook, which was their reason for requesting each other as roommates. “But we had met each other once before in person,” Miller said.

Sophie Weiner ’12 decided whoshe thought she might want to be friends with based on similar interests, especially in music. However, since coming to Brandeis, she has deleted everyone on her list that she doesn’t currently talk to in person. She doesn’t regret friending random people, though; in fact, according to Weiner, “I met one person on Facebook who I’m still good friends with. We like the same music, so we go to concerts together and stuff.”

On the other hand, people like Darlene Zephyrine ’12 and Leah Carnow ’12 think the whole “meeting-people-on-Facebook” concept is just plain weird. “People from Brandeis friended me [over the summer], and I accepted them. But I never talked to them,” Zephyrine stated.

Carnow questioned why people would request to be friends with other people, and then not talk to them. “I don’t know Facebook manners,” she admitted. “Are you allowed to ignore friend requests from people you don’t know, but might run into later?”

Adina Weissman ’12 doesn’t think so: “I accepted people who friended me. What if I had rejected the person who lives across the hall from me? But I didn’t actually have conversations with people; no, no.”

Since coming to Brandeis, many new students have filled their lists of friends with faces they have seen in person, which brushes any awkwardness aside. But still, so many students have “friends” that they don’t even know. So how many people will say hi to Suzy Smith and how many will delete her from their friends by the first week of school? “If I met her in person, Facebook would allow me to keep in touch with her,” Lamia Harper ‘12 said. “Otherwise, random Facebook friends are like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.”

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