By ASHLEY WELFORD-COSTELLOE
When the Internet first became popular in the mid to late ’90s, communication improved.
You could send an electronic message to someone halfway across the world and expect a reply within a few minutes, depending on whether that person happened to be at his computer when you sent it.
These days you can do so much more. Thanks to social networking sites, it is a lot easier to connect with friends you haven’t seen in years, find common interest groups and stalk your ex without him or her knowing it.
The possibilities are endless.
One of the most popular social networking sites to date is Facebook.
Almost everybody has a Facebook account. It’s very likely that most, if not all your family members and friends use Facebook.
It’s an excellent way to keep in touch with friends as well as reconnect with people you haven’t seen in years.
Mark McMullen is a Conestoga College student in accounting.
He said he often uses Facebook to reconnect with old friends from high school.
Heather Bryan, also in accounting, enjoys another one of Facebook’s perks.
“ I like to look at friends’ pictures and albums,” she said.
Facebook has so much more to offer. If you want to pass the time, there are a variety of applications to choose from. You can play silly games, take quizzes or create your own.
Almost every musical group, actor, TV show and business has a Facebook page.
However, Facebook does have its downside.
“I find it very time-consuming; I go on when I should be reading,” said Martina Graovac, another accounting student.
“There are privacy issues that concern me,” said McMullen. “You have to watch who you accept as a friend.”
“It distracts you from what you are doing at the moment and from homework,” said Bryan.
But Facebook has one more problem. It is potentially addictive.
According to an article on socialtimes.com, there is a set of criteria that determines whether or not someone is a Facebook addict.
Tolerance: This term describes someone who spends so much time on Facebook that it has come to the point where it is beginning to affect his or her daily life.
Withdrawal symptoms: These become obvious when one is restricted from using Facebook in order to participate in normal everyday activities such as work, school, etc.
Signs to look out for are anxiety, distress and the need to talk about Facebook.
A person addicted to Facebook will often reduce time spent on other enjoyable activities in order to spend as much time on the social networking site as possible.
Virtual dates: Extreme Facebook addicts will not go out to dinner, or to the movies; instead they insist that their partner must be online at a certain time.
Fake friends: If eight out of 10 people on a person’s Facebook page are total strangers, it is a sure sign she has a serious problem.
In extreme cases, Facebook addicts will go as far as creating a page for their pet.
When meeting new people, they will often ask whether or not they have Facebook, even if it’s someone they just met.
Any notifications, wall posts or friend requests give them a high.
People who have any of these symptoms should seek help at Counselling Services. Go to the Student Life Centre, Room 1A101, or calling them at 519-748-5220, ext. 3360.