Watters: Facebook Home marks too much social networking


Arabella Watters, Columnist

I, like most people I know, am terribly attached to my phone. I’m at the point of integration with the thing where it hardly ever leaves my hand or the back pocket of my jeans. Now, this wasn’t so much the case until October when I made the cataclysmic switch from Blackberry (it also represented a switch away from the constant jokes about how I was living in the wrong decade) to iPhone and all of my social media made the switch with me. It’s ironic because the term for people’s dependence on their Blackberrys used to be to endearingly calling them Crackberries, but I find that my iPhone — or more accurately, the Facebook app on my iPhone — is entirely more addicting than those clicking keys ever were.

It’s been my practice for my last two years at Northwestern — and I get mocked mercilessly for this — to find solace in detoxing from my cell phone for the first few days once we start a break. Here at school, we are so constantly connected that my brain never really seems to get the chance to turn off.

Inundated continuously with updates, witticism, photographs (how many different angles can you photograph the Baha’i Temple from? That’s what I really want to know) keeps us ahead of the game, but maybe too far ahead. I’m at the point where I resent my inability to focus on anything for longer than two minutes. The siren song of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever else I’m currently tempting myself with is nearly impossible to block out. That’s why I like to turn my phone off for a couple of days. There’s this quiet kind of peace that settles when I’m not looking, persistently searching for the next dopamine boost of that brand new notification. That little red bubble screaming about likes or comments is so elusive and gives us so much, yet nothing really at all, and that dichotomy is exactly why, as the digital native I am, I still like to turn it all off once in a while. Having a conversation without looking down at my cell phone every five seconds is refreshing. I would be belaboring a point in saying that I think we’re missing out on some elements of authentic human connection by being so attached to social media, but I can’t help but think about it anyway.

However, with the rise of social networking — especially Facebook, which seems to want to be everything to everyone —  it’s getting harder and harder to pull myself away, begging the question: Are we going to reach a saturation point of digital media, where there is no possibility to pull away?

When Facebook Home was released last week, my first thought was that there really would be no escaping now, quickly followed up by the awe of what a coup the social media juggernaut was really achieving. It’s also really time consuming, and I don’t want to write vulgarities in the pages of The Daily, so I’ll just stick with “darn you” to Google and its entire Android operating system.

There were rumors of a “Facebook phone” earlier this year, but nobody really anticipated that Facebook would essentially just create its own operating system. In principle, Facebook Home is genius: Facebook wants to integrate itself into all aspects of our lives, and what better way than to make itself literally unavoidable on all interfaces of our phones.

There’s just one little problem: I think that there is a whole host of people, even young people like myself, who want to hold onto what little bit of autonomy they still possess in regards to our ability to escape from social media. Yes, Facebook Home is convenient, fast, extremely innovative and undoubtedly on the forefront of a new wave of integrative tech, but it doesn’t mean that it’s what I want. More and more, I’m yearning for that peaceful feeling of just letting go — maybe at the ripe age of 20, I’m getting old, but I sort of just want a little bit of peace and quiet.

Arabella Watters is a Medill sophomore. She can be reached at [email protected]. If you want to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].