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The Great Facebook Debate and the Community of Adulthood


As you know, Welcome to Adulthood loves its contributing writers! In fact, we love them so much that we are big fans of their work too!

Recently, I read an article posted on David Daedalus’s blog that was really engaging. It was one of those articles that you just can’t stop thinking about. Daedalus wrote that Facebook needs to be “out-Facebooked.” He noted that he didn’t want to see:

“Friends of yours started having babies and suddenly half of your newsfeed is pictures of  little Ethan or Tammy barfing pureed peas onto the shoulder of a proud hipster parent who you were roommates with senior year and don’t really have a connection with now. Former lovers and friends of former lovers are awkwardly still on your friends lists, pictures of you and your former paramours now have to be untagged lest your current squeeze see them and get wonky.”

Daedalus questions the connective value of Facebook when he says, “Social Networking isn’t about connecting with people, it’s about making yourself appear interesting so other people will want to connect with you.”

Ultimately (and of course he says it so much more eloquently and convincingly), he is positing that there is a better way to run a social networking site that fits your need for voyeurism and connection, that would be far less superficial in personal engagement and wouldn’t rely on tedious self-curation. Daedalus also acknowledges that Facebook has lost its edge – that somewhere in the clunky format changes and expanded social circles to your Aunt Emily, your parents, and your boss, Facebook has ceased to retain that exclusive mystique.

I guess I’m not as critical of Facebook. To me, what makes Facebook pretty great is that you can tailor it to your unique values. So, one person may not really care to see their college roommate’s child’s first steps – it adds no value to their life. But for me, watching College Roommate Sally’s Baby on my newsfeed adds significant value to my life, regardless if I regularly engage with Sally Roommate. It adds value because it appeals very strongly to my sense of community.

Facebook has fundamentally changed our notion of “community.” In the old days, the idea of community was “the village” that was uniquely within each of our worldviews. In the old days, you knew most people in the village, you knocked on doors, you had dinner or drinks with a person. People rarely left the village, people dated and married via the village network, and you spent much of your life tightly wrapped within village interactions. You didn’t need pictures of Sally Roommate’s Baby, because you lived down the street from her. You didn’t need to keep tabs on a former lover because you would unfortunately be doomed to see them at some point around the village (probably while you were WITH your “current  squeeze”, who still would “get wonky.”)

The world has become more sophisticated and, inevitably, our “villages” have expanded as a result. Facebook has expanded the village community so that you CAN keep in touch with Sally Roommate without having to do much work. (Sally Roommate represents the friends whom you think fondly of but probably wouldn’t have felt inspired to have kept in contact with over the years if the means of communication were only phone, mail, and even email.)

By virtue of mutually EXISTING on your Friends Page, you are connecting with Sally Roommate. By connecting with Sally Roommate you are adding value to your life (even if it just means you get to have a nice smile over morning coffee when you see another picture of her baby in a Lion costume. Smiling = value.) By adding value to your life, your community is vital to you and becomes a really successful support and social tool!

Community is only valuable because it is focused on connecting: whether you live in a village and have dinner with Aunt Emily and her neighbors’ every Sunday, or whether your Facebook wall is pasted with mostly-interesting things from mostly-interesting people who you, for the most part, are fond of….

Facebook may not have retained its coolness factor, but it has done something greater than it probably ever intended: it has forged a new conception of community. Because of Facebook I provided my former neighbor in Los Angeles with my best-ever blueberry muffin recipe for her baby shower. Because of Facebook my fond friends from high school can see pictures of my handsome boyfriend, and I can see pictures from their graduations from graduate school. Because of Facebook I finally have a face to put to the name of my elementary school pen pal. Because of Facebook I keep in touch with my sister fairly often. Because of Facebook, the girl I met once through a mutual friend wrote me a heartfelt email that brought tears to my eyes when I had posted a status that my beloved cat had died.

It takes a lot of support to create a happy life for yourself. It takes connecting and learning from others. It takes the kindness of strangers. It takes wise mentors.  It takes sharing and celebrating and sympathy and silliness.

It takes a village, or *352 friends on your Facebook.

*Insert your village census count here.


What do you think? What is Facebook’s value to you, if any? Are you ready to see the next social network “out-Facebook” Facebook? Is Facebook creating a village community, or merely overexposing us?

Weigh in Adulthooders!


Photo via Thos003 on Flickr.

Wordless Wednesday: Adulthood is Clever



Photo of “iCake” via Janetmck on Flickr.

Guest Blog: Rated "R" Movies and the Quest for Adulthood

“To me, in my 13 year-old brain, seeing this movie is what being a grown-up meant.”

Rated “R” Movies and the Quest for Adulthood

By Lukus Williams

The A.V. Club is where the cool, smarmy kids (like me!) go to read insightful ruminations on entertainment media of all types. After scrutinizing the latest review of a movie or album with the acuity of my liberal arts education, I often race to the comments section to see what other like minded readers have gleaned from a reviewer’s unabashed praise of a movie like “Inception” or the total smackdown of “The Last Airbender.”

Like any other blog, large or small, the life is in the comments section – which is the inspiration for the A.V. Club’s AVQ&A series, where staff and readers discuss pop-culture question of high substance.

This week’s AVQ&A just so happened to invade Welcome To Adulthood territory:

I was 10 or 11 when the Atom Egoyan movie Exotica came out, and I remember being really intrigued by it. It seemed, in my mind, to be this sophisticated, adult movie—the kind of thing real grow-ups watched instead of action films and romantic comedies. I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to watch it. Are there any similar cultural items which represented “adulthood” to you as a child? And did you ever check them out? If so, how did they play to your expectations? I eventually rented Exotica as a 19-year-old, and found it kind of boring. –Kristen

At various stages of my youth, there were always different movies that appeared as a marker of adulthood to me.

When I was in the first grade, the lady who babysat me had a son in fifth grade named Ryan. Ryan liked to regale me of his tales of being a fifth grader, how he got to play on the cooler side of the playground, and of course how freaking awesome Terminator 2: Judgment Day was. My mom, of course, wasn’t going to ever let me watch it. I did everything I could to see the movie, I even worked to make enough to buy a ticket for me and my dad to both go, but still I was denied.

It wasn’t until I was 11 years old that I was able to see the film, and you know what? Ryan was totally right, it is freaking awesome. Best Terminator movie still, to date – and Ryan was right on his second point, the movie was totally cooler than RoboCop ever was.

Not wanting a repeat of this Terminator fiasco, I longed for a clever plan to see Starship Troopers two years later. Mark, a 14 year-old god amongst the rest of my 12-13 year-old group of friends had managed to see the R-rated movie without a parent, and told us we needed to see it. Following his advice, we went to a matinee on a weekday where the old man who sells tickets barely cared enough to take our money, let alone check how old we were.

To me, in my 13 year-old brain, seeing this movie is what being a grown-up meant. The main characters were cool, they cussed, they shot giant bugs in outer space and oh… there were boobs. Thanks to a shower scene and a sex scene, my teenage mind was forever changed!

Looking back, Starship Troopers is a terrible movie. It’s a very poor adaptation of its source material. The entire thing is simply bad, even for a pulpy sci-fi flick. And while I’d like to believe I’ve totally outgrown the idea that seeing dudes blowing up aliens is a sign of adulthood and manliness… at the very least, it would be a lie to say that Dina Meyer’s breasts weren’t burned into my psyche, and who knows what damage that has wrought?

What about the rest of you adulthooders?

What movies or TV shows were the forbidden fruit of your youth, and did they stand the test of time?

(Photo via Dietrichthrall)

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