The Experiment that Led to Reality

By Nickolas Eversole

What began as a college experiment in 2004 is now the world’s largest and most popular network of all-time. After its launch in February of 2004, the online world – the entire world, was forever altered by this social experiment. Facebook has changed us all. It has changed not only the Internet, not merely Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania or even this country, but the entire world.

Nearly seven years since its production, the inventors of Facebook, led by Mark Zuckerberg, have become multi-billionaires. Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire of all-time solely due to this innovation. As a student at Harvard University, Zuckerberg had an idea to link all members of the University together, using the Internet as his source. Once he had done that successfully, it expanded beyond his imagination.
Soon, every student attending an Ivy League University would be able to register on this site. As the site grew, its popularity grew faster. Within no time, colleges across the country were added. Bloomsburg University students were able to register on Facebook within no time of its expansion.

Eventually, Facebook opened its doors to the general public. High School students joined; college graduate students did the same. More recently, Middle School students have entered the network and middle-aged adults and parents were not far behind. Today, Facebook is advertised on countless sites on the World Wide Web and used by news anchors on ABC, Fox, ESPN and live telecasts. This was no longer an “experiment” – it became reality, and everyone was a part of it.

I was inspired to research Facebook and learn of its statistics after watching the movie “Social Network”. I was amazed at how quickly Facebook reached its popularity; reaching one million members in its first year. I realized during the course of the movie that the network was designed to connect students at all universities. Bloomsburg students, for example, are able to stay updated with their friends that attended different colleges. It became a fad that never lost its popularity.

Students are the main contributors to Facebook – Bloomsburg University students come from many different areas of Pennsylvania and primarily along the east coast but while at college, where you came from has little bearing on who you are. Facebook connects all students together and allows students to maintain friendships that go beyond college. Organizations, businesses in Bloomsburg also benefit from Facebook. The network permits restaurants, convenient and department stores to advertise themselves. If I want to find a good family breakfast, instead of searching on Google, I can find it easily on Facebook – the same goes for department stores such as Staples or Lowe’s. As a freshman, I recall not knowing where Wal-Mart was located, so I found their page on Facebook and the address was right in the “info” slot on their page.

A main reason that Facebook has become so extraordinarily popular is due to individual status updates. Since nearly every person has their own page. Rather than calling, emailing or visiting their friends, it is easier to check on Facebook to see what they have been doing, who they are dating/not dating and to see who they have been hanging out with by checking their pictures. You can update your own page with a current status,
to let all of your friends know what you are doing now, later tonight or lay out your weekly agenda. Human interaction has been forever discouraged by the site’s vast improvements. Finance Freshman student at Bloomsburg, Alaina Christensen, had this to say about Facebook and its many tools: “It’s a great way to interact with my friends that attend different colleges that I don’t get to see very often. I can look at their pictures, check their page or chat with them. It’s very easy to stay updated since I cannot visit them very often.”

Along with the status updates, the group pages and individual pages that display what was once private information, Facebook also has applications available for installation, games to play and mobile access for everyone. Rather than watching old re-runs of Family Feud, just type it into the search and you can be playing within minutes on your computer or on your cell phone. How can you play on your phone? Well, Facebook Mobile permits users to do everything on their phone that they would do on their desktop or laptop. This includes anytime someone writes a message on their wall, perhaps they are tagged in a picture or want to play a game. This may be foreign language to those of you that do not have a Facebook, so allow me to clarify: when any Facebook function that you are associated with is changed or commented on, you are notified.

All of this information may raise the question, is Facebook at its peak? The answer: no. Between the months of February and July this year, a span of only 4 months, 100 million people joined the site (once again, this is according to Facebook) – that is an average of 25 million people each month. Its expansion into other countries makes me believe that this site may never reach a peak – with offices set up 11 countries other than the United States, it is difficult to imagine a worldwide shutdown any time soon. Within the Bloomsburg community, according to Facebook, about 85% of students have one and check it on a daily basis. For many people, Facebook is no longer a hobby – it is their primary source for information. Some students believe that Facebook has a bad influence on schoolwork. Bloomsburg Senior and Computer Forensics major Matt Maczko claims that it is no longer a necessity for him, “I deleted my Facebook because it takes away from my school work and because it brings unnecessary drama to my life. I thought it was cool at first, but now it has become too public,” and since he deleted it (nearly two weeks), he feels that “it has been a great decision.”

The final question to ask: has Facebook made a positive impact on our society – more specifically, the Bloomsburg community? Although it has limited human interaction and probably resulted in students accumulating less work, this social network is easily the best method to keep in touch with distant friends and family. It is a fun, easy way to stay up to date with what is going on in the community and among classmates. If spending too much time on Facebook is the biggest concern for parents, it is a good thing.

Perhaps now we do not completely understand the impact that Facebook has had, but eventually we will see that it has changed the way in which we live. To fully understand the materialization of Facebook, understand that in order to write this column I needed no outside sources. I simply logged onto my Facebook page, used the search engine and found all of the necessary information. One day, years from now, we will look back and try to imagine our world without Facebook, but nothing will be stored in our memory banks. There may be a different social network then, but Facebook was the first social system to bring everyone together. Many people talk about having a great college experience, but Mark Zuckerberg and his friends during their college experience, created a way for everyone else to share theirs.

images uploaded from google images

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