Tag Archives: social networking sites

‘Facebook destroyed my relationship’

The Facebook logo

Two hundred million members around the world, are you one of them? That’s right, Facebook. The popular social networking site has become a global phenomenon and continues to strive in its success, gaining hundreds of member’s everyday. Although it is true that Facebook is a useful website to interact with people and keep in touch with friends through wall discussions and other things, it can also prove to be very unpleasant at times in the way it is used.

“It can be very dangerous at times” says Nicola Cohen, a 22 year-old student from Essex. As we sit at her local coffee shop in Chelmsford, she began to tell the tale of how Facebook ruined her relationship, lost her friends and nearly led to a failed degree. Nicola is resentful of the day she became a member of Facebook. It is known to be addictive. A previous study has found that 70% of users become addicted and sign in around 15 times a day! This is how it started for Nicola; she decided to get it because almost all her classmates had it too. Once signed up, she was amazed at some of the people she found, old primary school friends and people who she hadn’t spoken to for years. It was also a good way to see what her friends were up to, through checking people’s statuses and looking through the pictures of their eventful weekend. But it was only a matter of time before the interest in the lives of other people on Facebook became obsessive. Admitting to checking her Facebook 10-15 times a day, Nicola confesses: “It would be the only thing I would be doing if I was at home, the first thing when I woke up and even if I would be out, I would sometimes get the urge to go to the nearest internet café to sign in”. And although she had replied to comments, accepted or declined friend requests and changed her status, she would still be on the site for at least another 3 hours.

These hours would be to pry on other people, this is commonly known to Facebook users as ‘Facebook stalking’. “Nobody likes to admit it, but everyone does it. You’ll be sitting there for hours looking at pictures of the hot guy down the road and it is daft to think that it would make more sense to go and have a face-to-face conversation with the person. The insight that is gained from someone’s profile may make their personality more apparent to you and you may even feel like you know them, when really you have never had more than a two minute conversation with them.

Are you part of the statistic?

Addiction, that’s one thing, but Nicola’s problems worsened when her now previous boyfriend also decided to sign up to Facebook. Mike went through the same process of the compulsion, checking up on Nicola whenever he had the chance. “This is where it all started, the arguments. It was awful, he’d check who was writing on my wall and commenting on my pictures and every male that did would be told to stay away. I was constantly being accused of cheating, even though I knew this was nowhere near true. I had to try and prevent my male friends from leaving comments.” Of course they listened, but from hearing it, contact lessened and it seemed like they lost respect for Nicola.

“Things just got worse and worse, but it wasn’t just him that was doing the stalking. I admit I would tend to go on his profile a lot just to see if he was being completely honest with me. I found out a lot of stuff, mostly trivial, like lying about where he said he’d be and, although petty, it was the fact that they were lies.” Nicola began to feel like there was no trust what so ever in the relationship, not only did he not believe her when she said she wasn’t seeing anybody else, she realised that actually she didn’t trust him at all either. “If he can lie about minor details and be dishonest when it isn’t necessary, then who knows what he could be keeping from me. This was my general thought process.” It was time to end it, after their heavy three year relationship, they both decided it was time to go their separate ways.

Whilst all of the drama had been occurring over the last year or so, Nicola’s university work suffered a great deal. “I had been getting bad grades for the assignments I would stay up all night doing and it showed the times when things were really tough for me personally, I would be failing the coursework. And to other people it seemed ridiculous that I was letting my love life distract me, but it’s different when you’re actually in the situation yourself. When you think you’re in love, the thought of losing that person is all that matters.” It got to the point where Nicola’s tutors had noticed a dramatic change in her work, attendance and enthusiasm, not to mention the times they caught her on Facebook in the middle of her lectures. So, they got into contact with her, this is when she realised that she had let it all get on top of her.

 “I deactivated my Facebook account. I thought that would solve my problems, but I lasted two days and I just had to get back onto it to check up on Mike.” Facebook allows users to deactivate their accounts, but this can be temporary. Nicola wasn’t impressed by what she saw, people who she thought were her friends had been making bitchy comments about her, and Mike had seemed like he had moved on. Losing her boyfriend, having friends turn against her and failing her degree, Nicola was unhappy and at her lowest point.

 Psychotherapy helped Nicola get over her dependence of Facebook and with this came an understanding of what was really important in her life – herself. “I got over the boyfriend, found out who my real friends were and focused on the most important thing; my education, because it will take me where I want to be and unlock so many more opportunities for me.”


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Timeline: social networking sites

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Social barrier or freedom?

 Social Networking sites are websites which allow people to build social networks with others who share the same interests/activities or even to maintain relationships with existing friends.

Although social networking sites are ever changing the concept stays the same; interactivity is what all of the web-based sites provide, making contact easier through e-mail and instant messenger.

Well-known sites such as; Facebook and Myspace are more general based , however there are countless variations which sometimes seek to target niche audiences, focusing on interests such as dating, music, film etc.

1997: Launch of the first social networking site SixDegrees.com, it allows users to connect and send messages to each other. However, its success was somewhat short lived as 2000 saw the website close. 

1999: Social networking became popular and then used as a way to target niche groups and subcultures; AsianAvenue, BlackPlanet and LiveJournal to name a few.

 2000: LunarStorm is relaunched and MiGente introduced bringing an online community of Hispanics together. In 2008 the founder of AsianAvenue and BlackPlanet bought MiGente and claims over 23 million users.

2001: South Korea was the next to jump on the bandwagon with Cyworld, which followed the general guidelines of a social networking site, however it was the first to introduce the idea that profit came from the sale of virtual goods. Recently, the US version of the site has been closed down until furthur notice. Ryze.com another site lauched in this period targeted at business professionals and new entrepreneurs.

 2002: Friendster was founded by a Ryze member, with a popular Asian uptake it receives 19 billion page views per month. Fotolog is self-explanatory being an online photo blog and receiving 750 million page views a month.

 2003: Several websites were launched; Hi 5 and MySpace being the most well-known. Hi 5 claims to have over 60 million active users and in 2008 was voted the third most popular social networking site. MySpace on the other hand had its popularity streak in 2006, until overtaken by Facebook in 2008. It had 1000 employees and asserts over 200 million users.

A typical Facebook profile

2004: OrKut, Dogster, Multiply, aSmallWorld, Catster, Hyves are a few that were lauched in 2004 that were less mainstream. However, 2004 saw the introduction of Facebook but it was only available to Harvard students then it began to develop so it became accessible to other students, until it became worldwide to anyone over the age of 13.

 2005: Re-launches of sites that introduced new networking features came about, for example; Yahoo! 360 (which also closed recently), YouTube and Bebo existed before but with limited interactive content, so they were re-launched and then added to the growing list of social networking sites. Facebook developed to become available to high school networks.

 2006: Facebook gradually becomes available to corporate networks and then becomes completely universal. CyWorld expanded to China and the USA, while the world saw the introduction of Twitter. With a revenue of $400, 000 and employment figures around 150, Twitter has become incredibly popular and sometimes referred to as the ‘SMS of the internet’.

Concerns over privacy of new site

2010: Google have recently lauched their own social networking site called Google Buzz, it includes most of the interaction components of social networking sites- sharing links, photos, videos, status messages and comments. Although, Google executive Sergey Brin, announced the service as ‘bridging the gap between work and leisure’, there have been many concerns over privacy and criticisms of the conformity of the site competing with other major sites such as Facebook.


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