Oberlin Blogs

Facing the Facebook Facts

August 25, 2010

Ma'ayan Plaut ’10

Hey! If you're coming to Oberlin this fall, raise your hand!

No, I know you can't raise your hand because you're too madly typing to all your new Oberlin Facebook friends about the classes you're hoping to sign up for, the dorm you're living in, what kind of clothes you need to buy for the temperamental Ohio weather, how much you're going to miss your pets, as you and your friends frantically count down the days till you unite on campus.

Dear freshpeople, Facebook isn't how college will be, but it'll still be your one of your favorite procrastination devices when you get there.

As someone who gets *paid* (I still can't get over this) to spend time perusing the internet for all things cool and Oberlin, Facebook has become one of my closest friends, but not the kind you call all the time to hang out. It's the awesome yet kinda vaguely smelly one that hangs around when you're trying to do your homework and prods you into treks in the arb when you really need to go to sleep. With this in mind, Facebook's possibly dangerous friendship with you could actually become the beginning of a very beautiful relationship.

Some truths about Facebook from a self-proclaimed pro:

Relationship statuses: They're important, but not the end-all, be-all. Interested in someone? Don't stalk them first, talk to them. What do you think orientation is for? Hell, the rest of college?

Pictures: Your first three months will have lots of photos of all your new college friends, lying in piles of people during TGIF in Wilder bowl, strange late-night outings to stargaze in North Quad, first-birthday-parties away from home, and visits to Ratsy's to try on vintage clothing. Tag away; college is when you'll be most photogenic anyways. You'll truly treasure these photos when you're on breaks away from your Obies, or you may end up in the ridiculous position that photography becomes your life and then becomes a poster.

Friending: You may have friended lots of people in hopes of getting to know fellow freshfolk before getting to campus. I actually think it's a great idea, because I met some of my closest friends online before getting to campus, and we didn't necessarily have to small-talk about favorite movies and books to get to know each other once we arrived here. I didn't end up meeting all my Facebook friends in person once I got here, so a few months in, I did a Facebook friend purge: if I hadn't met them yet, I unfriended them. This is not to say that I didn't end up for-real friends (and Facebook friends) with them later in my time here, but I'd rather know people in real life than on the Internet. Once you're in Oberlin, you'll be able to meet lots of people, and you won't need Facebook as your intermediary.

Newsfeed: You will know who is procrastinating when if you see that someone has been tagged in 45 new pictures at 3am. If you're awake reading the feed, you might as well take a partnered procrastination break... Walk around campus for a few minutes; it may clear your head to write just one more page or read just one more chapter before collapsing into bed.

Events: Events are one of the most abused but best parts of Facebook. Want your friends at something you're involved in to cheer you on? Invite them... but just remember that they're getting five other invites a day to other things. Personally, I love it because it's like an external calendar of events I can choose from on any given day, and on the weekends, your calendars will be flooded. Even if you're more into concerts at the 'Sco, sometimes it's nice to know that there's an art walk you can frequent before you dance your ass off later that night.

Groups and Pages: Secretly, I'd love to see the 2014 group stay alive and kicking through the year, with cool event updates and related fun things, because most class groups end up dying down severely once everyone's on campus (who needs Facebook? We can hang out EVERYWHERE! OUTSIDE!). If you are going to join anything else on Facebook, though, I highly recommend the Oberlin College page, which has fascinating links involving Oberlin and Obies and will soon have event updates as well (as maintainer of the page for the year, I'm really excited to start utilizing it even more).


I feel so old when I think about my first forays into Facebook as a wee lil pre-frosh. Facebook became available to high school students early in my senior year of high school, which makes the class of 2010 the first class to start networking even before they knew what college had accepted them. I've learned some good lessons from the 'book, too, I've reconnected with alums from before my time, I can keep track of friends who are abroad, and I can find the best things to do on the weekend. And best of all, starting on Facebook young helped me get this job... thanks Internet!

Responses to this Entry

Facebook is the worst thing ever....and the best. I simultaneously hate and love it.

Posted by: Patrick on August 25, 2010 8:45 PM

I completely agree with the balance of internet and real life that's here...it's certainly awesome to document parts of your life so that you can remember them years from now, but having things worth documenting is so much cooler. Also, here is my most important facebook advice.

Don't put anything on the internet that you're not willing to discuss with your grandmother.

My father once said this in regards to not doing things I wouldn't want Gramma to know about in real life, but I figure that there are some rather important things worth doing that I wouldn't discuss with her. The internet, though...trust me. Don't put things there that you wouldn't want to talk about with a relative, job interviewer, etc.

Posted by: Brandi on August 26, 2010 10:38 AM

Facebook is great for facilitating your social life IRL. People may spam events, but I always at least RSVP "maybe" to whatever I might go to just so I have a convenient list of things I can do any given night.

Some annoyed people get claim that Facebook is abused since it's so easy to advertise on, but I've never been one to dislike something optional because it's there. There's a difference between getting an invitation to join "I LIEK PIZZA!!!11" and getting invites to recitals / parties / dances.

Facebook is a place where Oberlin can find you, but still on your own terms. There's a lot that flies under the radar here and if it wasn't for seeing a random update with a friend's RSVP notice I'd never have gone to a senior theater project or a dance.

Anyway, yes, Ma'ayan you're totally on this. (But "the 'book", really?)

OH ALSO please don't worry too much about Facebook. Everyone seems to have a different philosophy when it comes to Facebook. I only friend people after I've hung out with them a bit in flesh-world (that is not supposed to sound sexual >_>), and some people friend everyone hoping to get to know them online. Just keep an open mind and you'll be fine. *NO ONE* here doesn't want to make friends.

Posted by: Greg on August 26, 2010 5:41 PM

Like Ma'ayan, I still remember the spring/summer of '06 and the Obie 2010 freshman group. I made an Oberlin facebook account the day I got my @oberlin.edu email address, and soon enough I had two new friends-- two people who, like me, would be spending their summer working at Dunkin' Donuts. I met them during orientation, but we never really became friends, but hey that happens.

At the same time, some of my best friends from Oberlin are people who I met on that facebook group (Ma'ayan being one). Now looking back as an alumna, facebook is one of the main ways to stay in contact with the Obies who I love and miss.

On the topic of event invites, as an admin of a student organization (OCircus!), facebook was one of our most important tools when it came to advertising shows and meetings.

Facebook can be a friend, a tool, a lifeline, and yes, a destructive distraction. But as a college student, it's almost inevitable, so get used to it. Facebook in college is different than facebook in high school. It's not all about Farmville or Flare anymore!

Posted by: Chris on August 27, 2010 11:10 AM

What Brandi said. If thinking about your grandmother doesn't give you pause, consider this: some of your professors are also on Facebook...

For actually making friends, I've found Facebook mediocre at best. For showing up to Orientation and feeling like there were people out there who maybe could be friends, though, it was a great confidence-booster. Also for staying in touch with friends who graduate (they tend to do that, in large numbers,at very inconvenient times), and for keeping track of all the stuff happening on campus. I have known a couple people at Oberlin without Facebook accounts, and while they did not die, they did seem to spend a lot of time saying "Wait, there's a film screening tonight?

Posted by: Eli on August 27, 2010 1:07 PM

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