Students’ outraged response to Facebook blackout implies high level of digital dependence

Exactly one week ago (last Thursday), I logged into my Facebook account and noticed one of my digital friends sent me an invite to join a group. Fantastic ‘- I hate those things. Upon clicking the link, I was forwarded to the page of the following group: I Survived the BGSU Facebook Blackout Of 2009. ‘Oh yeah,’ I thought to myself. ‘That’s probably why I wasn’t able to log in last night before class. Wow. That’s a lot of members.’ Currently, the group has over 900 members. I am sickened. After reading the comments for the group’s page, in addition to hearing literal boatloads of gossip about the event the next day, I was astonished by how many people were talking about it. So many people were becoming hysterical about being denied access to a simple social networking site for a matter of hours. It would seem these people like Facebook a lot – too much, really. Doesn’t addiction factor into this somewhere? Apparently, these people were unable to access their Facebook accounts for merely a few hours, and they were pretty pissed about it. And why shouldn’t they have been? The loss of Facebook is synonymous with outright injustice and horrible suffering. Having to wait 12 hours before uploading a stupid group photo of a few friends head-butting each other while drunk beyond belief? I can’t wait that long! What? You mean I have to wait half a day before I can turn that ‘cute’ picnik-edited photo of me with my cat into my profile picture? No way! This truly is pure evidence to show just how addled we college students are when it comes to our dependence on the digital drug known as Facebook. I am not an exception to this rule; I check my Facebook profile anywhere from two to four times per day. And it irritates me to no end. After being badgered into creating a profile, I am currently a full-fledged Facebook troll. Just like everyone else, I freaked out a little bit when the site failed to load last week. What really takes the cake is how desperately some students wanted to believe University administration was responsible for prohibiting Facebook access to students for that 12 hour period of time. Whenever an explanation, no matter how ridiculous, offers itself as a semi-legitimate answer to a controversial issue – especially when a popular scapegoat is included for people to blame en masse (University Administration) – the resulting rumors will fly faster and spread quicker than a cracked out hummingbird carrying a jar of warm peanut butter, which is exactly what happened. The students earnestly desired to blame the University for cutting Facebook access. Regardless of how irrational the idea was, it became an extreme form of gratification for students to dog on the administration for purportedly blocking their Facebook rights to free speech. Personally, I see the outlash as an outward verbal manifestation of the Facebook addictions which so many of us possess. Get in the way of our instant gratification mechanisms, and we get angry, real fast. We find ways to justify our anger through irrational arguments made relevant by linking them to hotly contested events. (Stroh Center controversy, anyone?) The way I see it, this should serve as a rude wake up call to those whose hands started to jitter when first discovering they would not be able to access their daily digital drug for half a day. I am ashamed to say I too fell prey to the rumors of the University blocking Facebook access. I had not yet heard of why they would have motivation to do such a thing, but I saw it as an opportunity to unleash some stress and feel united alongside my fellow oppressed college students. Now, I look back on the event and realize what a thoughtless and reasonless drone I had been. We college kids really need to reconsider the benefits of Facebook if we’re going to act rowdy and irrational when we are denied access to it. Then again, what benefits does Facebook have in the first place?