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Proquest Essay

There have always been divides in lives and relationships. Whether it was Seinfeld’s George enumerating the lives of “independent George” and “relationship George”, we all act and speak in certain ways around certain people. Shakespeare accurately stated that “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.”

Five hundred years later his words still ring true, and whether or not we admit it, we act differently around certain people because we know they may not have the same sense of humor as us or appreciate overt vulgarity the way we do.

We know that generations more advanced and less advanced in years just might not “get it”. The reality is that humans speak differently when they are with their friends than when they are with their grandparents at Thanksgiving. Because college students are so much different from society’s other age brackets, I believe they should not add their parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, doctors, pastors, etc. on Facebook.

As harsh as this may sound, a college student sets themselves up for all sorts of problems when they befriend family members, and those outside their “circle of friends”, on Facebook. Unfortunately, college students do not always use the best judgment when choosing their friends on Facebook or MySpace.

All to often, the desire to grow one’s friend count clouds that judgment, and before they know it their boss, their pastor, their great-grandmother, and their six year old sister all have unlimited access to their profile. Now, everyone can take a look at what’s going on in their life—each drunken photo, each expletive laced wall posting, each offensive group they belong to. Quite simply there are things which you do not want your parents to know. That was the whole reason you played the aloof, brooding teenager in high school. In college, the mindset should be much the same.

You do not want any commingling of your social life and your family life—that only leads to strife. Thus, you must eliminate all links between these two lives. Why, well the last thing you want is for Aunt Edna to discover that you are not just a kind, pleasant checkers opponent but that you are, also, a profane, alcohol fiend. She naturally is offended, and the next time you see her at a family gathering things will be very uncomfortable. And, just imagine how uncomfortable seeing your pastor will be.

Even though parents assume their children are off in college engaging in illegal activities, they can always hope that is not the case. They can always turn a deaf to the gravelly, hung-over voice which answers the phone on Saturday. They can always pretend that the movies overstate college students’ coarse language and foul sense of humor.

They can always hope that Hollywood exaggerates the amount of depravity in a college dorm. But, once you give them full access to your Facebook profile all of that changes. They now know every intimate detail of your life, just like your other Facebook friends do. The next time you see or talk to them you will be bombarded with innuendos, and maybe even an uncomfortable sit-down conversation.

Speaking anthropologically, knowing this detailed, private information defies the natural order of the world. When your parents drink with their friends, you are never privy to what is said or what is done—nor do you want to be. Barriers have been erected and carefully guarded for years, but now Facebook, playing the Martin Luther King, role threatens to destroy these essential barriers.

When the college student is back home, they never run around the house, opening drawers and cabinets hoping to find their father’s Viagra, nor do they ever rifle through their parents dvd collection looking for something erotic, nor do they come home and wade through the their parents’ computer’s history trail hoping to find adult websites. Why?—because there are boundaries. Quite simply, there are parts of our lives which we should not be shared, except with a very select few.

Unfortunately, befriending a parent on Facebook erases our natural boundaries. It throws are simple universe out of whack. As George would put it “Worlds are colliding” and this will in turn kill “independent George”. We should not want to kill our independent selves. Facebook is a way for college students to interact with one another. The moment parents and other outsiders are brought into the mix, either you will censor yourself—which will take all of the fun out of Facebook—or people will be offended.

Neither is a good option. That is why I recommend completely ignoring these outsiders’ friend requests. Because these are not the most tech-savvy people, it will be easy when they ask you why you have not added them on Facebook, just respond “Oh, I never received the friend request; there must be a bug in the system”. But, if they persist, you must politely tell them that Facebook is your domain, that it is a place where you and your friends interact. It would be much better to mildly hurt a loved ones feelings, than to dramatically offend them when they actually view your Facebook page.

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