How Facebook Changed Our Lives

     This past weekend I ran in the Dirty Dash, a six-mile obstacle course race that I did with some brothers and friends that involved a lot of mud.

     A month before the race, disaster struck. I was out for a run one evening and twisted my ankle. It ballooned up and gushed blood down from my knee. I was devastated and worried how I could possibly be in shape for a race that was only four weeks away with a busted ankle.

     After countless days of ice, a short stint on crutches, and doctor medicated steroids, I found myself ready to start training again. The only problem was that the race was only a week away.

     I realized my lack of training wasn't that big of a problem the instant the race began. I was surrounded by runners dressed in all kinds of costumes, and none of them seemed to be taking the race too seriously. The course began up a steep soggy and muddy hill. As my friends and I charged up, a lot of runners stopped to throw mud at each other.

     The race ended up being a blast and I'm glad I did it, but as we drove away from Soldier Hollow that Friday afternoon, I couldn't help but think most people did that race not for the thrill of racing, but for the photo ops.

     I don't mean to disparage the five ladies who wore wedding dresses or the Mario and Luigi who all trudged through the mud, but what did the Dirty Dash mean to them? Was it not just a Festival of Colors with only one color? Was is not a chance to get a sweet new profile pic and generate discussion about the cool weekend they had?

     Social media has dramatically altered the way we live our lives. In the 90s, a lot less people would be willing to run for 6 miles through the mud in costume because there wasn't any way to publicly display it. So many people live their lives not to live them, but for others to see online. You really think that tool didn't give it much thought before he posted a video of him shirtless playing "Wonderwall" on the guitar 12 seconds after making his status a Bible verse? Facebook is filled with opportunities to say "get over yourself" to the cocky or passive aggressive status updates or the weekly photo albums of things as trite as trips to Wal-Mart and filling up the gas tank.

     But for all the eye roll inducing Facebook causes, it's also changed our lives for the better. If it wasn't for Facebook, Betty White wouldn't have hosted SNL and students upset about BYUSA misusing student tuition dollars would have never come together to voice their opinion online.

     The Internet took the whole communications process and the news cycle, and put it on (doctor medicated) steroids, but sites like Facebook made it personal. Remember how it used to be OK to not use your real name online? My first e-mail address was aztrackstarrunner or something. Sites like Facebook made you use your real name, it made you put your picture online. It made the Internet a personal experience.

     Today, "The Social Network" hits theaters. It is predicted by some critics to be the movie of our generation, a romanticized semi-accurate account of the creation of an online empire that has changed the way we live and drastically dropped the GPA's of people across the world.

     Although there is a chance Facebook could last and change to meet the needs of the future, the social networking site could one day be a relic of a forgotten age, viewed by people the same way we view MySpace today. Regardless of what happens to the site, social media is here to stay. For good or ill, our lives have been changed.


madsquid said...

I really like this article. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Awesome article Hunter!

-Brown Adam

Cait said...

I wish I had known about this Dirty Dash, Hunter. I would have come and covered it for an article for the DU. You need to let me know when you do these cool things!

kels said...

Love it, Hunter! Can't wait to see The Social Network.

John said...

Well written. But sometimes it is more than just about is about just going out and having a good time right?

John at The Dirty Dash

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