Why I Love Facebook

I have three fond memories from my senior year of high school: the day I got my college acceptance letter, the day I graduated and the day I joined Facebook. The latter happened on a May afternoon before graduation, when a college friend e-mailed me an invitation to join. I was 17, and anything the older kids were doing was automatically cool. All I needed was an attractive profile photo (easier said than done) and a well-curated list of interests to meet the friends I always dreamed I'd have in college: people who preferred Faulkner over Hemingway, liked thrift shopping and wanted to sneak into Chicago jazz clubs. Facebook became my dry-erase tabula rasa. Under favorite quote, I wrote "True friends stab you in the front," as Oscar Wilde said. For the section titled "About Me," I said, "I like to write, but writing 'about me' is difficult."

As summer days passed and friend requests poured in, it didn't matter that I'd never met these people, because soon we'd be on campus together at Northwestern. When I landed at O'Hare that September, I met a girl who had seen my profile and wanted to introduce herself. Later, when I walked in on her in bed with a dormmate, she told me, "Don't be awkward." After all, we'd already met on Facebook.

As Facebook grew up alongside us, it improved our collective social lives—all 1,042 friends of mine and counting. I can't go to a sorority formal or football game without photos from the event winding up on Facebook, uploaded by me or a friend. Sure, it may be overly indulgent, and some of the pictures are unflattering, but this constant chronicling of life eliminates the secret diary or crafty scrapbook. Before Facebook, I may have written some words in my journal about a wild night in Chicago; now my friends and I are building each other's collective stories one photo, caption and poke at a time.

Facebook is my personal assistant, allowing me to catch up on my social life without telephone tag, awkward lunches and five-, 10-, 15-year reunions. We write on each other's Wall, a message board, when we want to say happy birthday without singing into an answering machine. When I'm having a hectic week at my internship, I can change my status so that people know why I haven't returned their telephone calls—much better than wasting time calling people to tell them you're too busy to talk.

It may seem artificial that I don't have to go out of my way to get in touch. But in the end, I've beaten the system. I have more time for my closest friends, those whose relationships transcend computers. And Facebook enriches those close friendships: when a best friend changed her dating status from "In a Relationship" to "Single," I brought over a movie, one that she had listed as a fave.

You've heard criticism that Facebook makes us robotic, but history shows we've always feared new communication tools. In 360 B.C., Plato criticized writing, saying that it would induce forgetfulness; 2,200 years later, the telephone was seen as invasive and unnecessary. Mark Zuckerberg is no more, or no less, than the next Samuel Morse or Alexander Graham Bell. We all want to interact as best we can, and Facebook allows us to do that. That said, if you're thinking of friending me after reading this, you should know: I'm not in the market for any more friends.

Why I Love Facebook | Culture