Facebook users choose to stay on site despite complaints about recent changes

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UNL students use Facebook as a daily ritual to communicate with friends.

Story and photo by Sarah Miller

The bright, white light of social networks illuminates the faces of users all around the world.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are sites that connect people through profiles, photos, videos and messages. Despite the popularity of these websites, recent changes made users consider disconnecting.

Facebook redesigned its pages in September. It added features to give users more information based on their activity within the site. Because of this, many users complained about the constant updates.

As Facebook continues to change the way it works, users must decide how social networking plays a role in their lives.

“It’s just Facebook,” said Eliza Nguyen, a freshman general studies major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “It’s everywhere. It just drags you in.”

And it’s continuing to drag in more people.

Facing change

Facebook boasts an impressive 800 million active users. About 25 percent of those users are from the United States, which means about two-thirds of the U.S. is on Facebook.

The social networking site has transitioned from a simple tool for staying in contact with others, to a site that works within multiple facets of society, and is even a tool for businesses.

“It’s a good way to keep in touch with friends, for events and helping people with computer problems,” said Wendy Mackey, 26, who works at the computer help center at UNL.

Mackey, who graduated in August with a degree in meteorology and climatology and minors in computers and math, said Facebook is a great way for her to help people who are having small issues with their computers.

Developers of Facebook are constantly striving for improvement though.

One of the most notable changes made this fall was the addition of the Ticker. This mini, real-time news feed posts what friends are doing on the site instantly.

Many users complained, saying it was becoming too complex.

“I don’t really read it,” said Nguyen. “It confuses people a lot.”

“It’s become more complicated and I just want to see updates,” said Chad Oltman, who works at the computer help center at UNL.

Oltman, a fifth year senior majoring in middle school education, said he’s started using Twitter more because it’s simpler.

Fake world

Some people choose to not even be a part of the social networking world.

“It’s a level of communication that penetrates deeply into your life,” said Michael Rendowski, a junior art major at UNL. “I think it’s just taken on a level of superficiality.”

Rendowski said he only uses the Internet for about one to two hours a week for school.

“I don’t think people put themselves on Facebook,” Rendowski said. “They put this version of themselves on there that they want people to think they are.”

The chance to choose what’s posted online allows people to create personalities, Rendowski said.

The ability to stay in contact with people is an interesting idea to him he said.

“I am tempted by social media,” Rendowski said. “I might make a lot more friends.”

But regardless of what Facebook has to offer, Rendowski says he won’t sign up.

“I don’t know if I wanna be a part of the fake world.”

Staring at the wall

Mike Wycoff, 25, a junior economics and international studies major at UNL, said he doesn’t use Facebook much these days except to keep track of birthdays and keep in touch with people.

“I used to use the analogy, ‘At least it’s better than staring at a wall,’” Wycoff said. “But one day a friend said, ‘You are staring at a wall.’”

That drove the point home Wycoff said. Since then, he only uses Facebook about once a day for twenty minutes he said.

In response to the recent Facebook changes, Wycoff said, “Somehow, someway, it (Facebook) missed the point of if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” Wycoff said.

Regardless of how Facebook chooses to change its website, few users plan to give it up anytime soon. It’s a way for people to communicate, and while changes may frustrate users initially, few people plan to leave.

“What’s going on in your life is becoming increasingly important,” Wycoff said. “People like to feel important.”

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