Volume 47, Number 6 - November 2, 2009

About the Reporter

Andrea Orellana
Andrea Orellana
Opinions Editor

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Opinion Opinion

Picture of Facebook page
To date, Facebook has more than 300 million users.

Facebook for everyone

By Andrea Orellana

On a day much like any other day several months ago, I logged onto Facebook, and discovered that I had accumulated 17 new friend requests overnight; not only was the sheer volume of it surprising, but the strangest part was the fact that every single request was from an Egyptian, Lebanese, or Turkish citizen. Did I mention that they were all males and all at least 25-years-old?

The next day was just about the same; Fourteen more friend requests from men in countries the likes of which American women can't visit without a bodyguard. This continued for two weeks.

As far as I knew, I hadn't signed up for any Mediterranean Men dating sites. Not recently, anyway.

After the initial confusion that would strike anyone in my shoes, it finally hit me just how worldly the Web is; the fact that random men all over the Middle East find the time to "friend" a random student almost 5,000 miles away amazes me. Specifically, I couldn't fathom how they all could digitally coexist on a single site like Facebook.

After researching, I found out that, contrary to popular belief, the most active users on Facebook are not “tweens” trying to find themselves via pseudo self-deprecating statuses, but adults from between the ages of 35 to 54.

To date, the website has more than 300 million active users and on any given day, 50 percent of them log on for an average of 20 minutes.   Part of Facebook's success can be attributed to the sites awareness of the growing digital age. Users regularly interact with one another by means of wall posts, news feeds, messages, groups, fan pages, applications, cyber-stalking (referred to as "creeping" or “lurking”) and much more.

"I’ve probably replaced a bit of my former e-mail use with [Facebook] private message use as it’s so easy to do a  one-stop shop thing once you’re logged in, and I don’t get sidetracked by stupid commercial e-mail messages," said Mo Cooling, 57, who is a computer applications instructor at Design and Architecture Senior High in the Design District.

Many people I’ve spoken with cited one particular feature as their favorite: the access to long-lost friends, and relatives. This is not good news, however, if you are trying to avoid long-lost friends and relatives.

"The fact that it has helped me contact old friends is my favorite thing about it," said Virge Castillo, 39.

When Harvard student, Mark Zuckerberg, started Facebook in February of 2004, only Harvard students had access to it. By June of that year, the site allowed access to anyone with Internet and an e-mail address. Zuckerberg was recently said to be the world's youngest billionaire by age 23 by Forbes Magazine as a result of the massive success Facebook has rendered him.

But little did he know that the Web site would become the most valuable tool for mass destruction; the world has not experienced such an astronomical loss of free time since the Tamagotchi Panic of the 90s.

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