Spilling the juice on gossip

By Tim Rath, Lina Ament & Masudur Rahman

Sports Editor, Staff Intern, Senior Reporter

Somewhere between the advent of “tweets” and “the juice,” social networking on the Internet became as natural as birds singing and fruit on the trees. Technological advances on websites such as Facebook and Juicy Campus have pushed communications from the desktop to your cell phone as quick as a Google search.

At the same time, a sharp divide has formed in the opinions of participants as to whether or not these advancements have a positive impact on relationships. For some, these websites are invaluable tools for keeping tabs on friends and family that aren’t available for face-to-face discussions. For others, they represent a disturbing intrusion into our private lives.

Considering that Facebook attracted 132.1 million unique hits in June 2008 according to ComScore, these pervasive tools appear to be more than just passing trends. With that in mind, it’s time to settle the score: Were we better off in the days before social networking websites like Juicy Campus and Facebook infiltrated the college classroom? That will be the question of this point-counterpoint debate, with Sports Editor Tim Rath taking the pro-social networking stance, staff intern Lina Ament taking the anti-social networking stance and senior reporter Masudur Rahman attempting to find a middle ground.

Lina: It’s obvious, Tim, that so-called “tools” like Facebook and MySpace are nothing more than human meat markets, offering any stranger with Internet access a chance to quickly evaluate your worth without ever getting to know the real you. Whatever happened to the days of going out, meeting new people and finding out about their interests by actually listening to them speak?

These days, it seems as if my worth is decided by “Who I’d Like to Meet,” and that’s destructive. Yes, you have control of the things you put on your page but what about the things other people do? They can post pictures of you, say things on your wall, or give you so-called “gifts” that are potentially harmful.

But you wouldn’t want anyone to get to know the real you anyway, would you, Tim?

You’re a career misanthrope whose day is best spent carefully deciding what you’ll say in your Facebook status update, all the while doing everything in your power to avoid real human contact. Please, spare me from your friendship and your friend request.

Masudur: Hold on, Lina. I agree that Tim’s idea of a Saturday well-spent is updating his “Favorite Music” 50 times. I also believe that little relevance that can be achieved with this type of Internet communication; a status update does not make for a coherent thought.

Regardless, few would deny logging onto Facebook or MySpace less than twice a day.

Finding out what your friends and classmates are up to, or even just finding if anyone wrote on your wall or sent you a private message, is one of those guilty pleasures that are absolutely impossible to quit.

Tim: Why would you even want to quit? Facebook and MySpace have improved every aspect of social interaction. Finding people that share your interests has become as easy as point-and-click. Keeping up-to-date with faraway friends and relatives does not have to cost the amount of a long distance phone call. Boring class lectures are negated with e-mail and instant message communication. These sites can also often help to create friendships or even romantic relationships between people who normally may not even talk to each other in the fleshy-world.

For people like you two who are stuck in the Jurassic era, writing telegrams and waiting three weeks to hear back from people you call friends may be enough. But for the rest of us living in the year 2008, those medieval methods of keeping in touch simply won’t suffice. Go back to sending your messages in bottles and with messenger pigeons as I tweet my friends about what happened at the party last night. By the way, Masudur, did that marker-moustache come off yet?

Lina: Hold on, Tim. In your incoherent, toddler-like babble, you’ve inadvertently come to the crux of my argument against these social networking sites: the minefield of individuals that populate juicycampus.com. Although Juicy Campus apparently began as a forum to tell people about what happened at parties, it’s clear that the goal is to harm and demean your peers. Check out this piece of garbage that was posted just after OU received a listing in

September: “It’s the beginning of a new year and we’re finally on juicycampus — someone needs to start dishing some dirt. let’s see if we can get ou closer to being a real college. let the shit talking begin.”

A “real college?” What’s the point in that?

The site’s anonymously posted content not only harms individuals, but also organizations as a whole. The Greek community and student athletic teams have been singled out and received the most libel. What is even more upsetting is that some of the libel is made by people outside of the organizations that don’t know what they really stand for.

Many of the women that have been targeted on the sight are strong, smart women who deserve much more credit than what they are given. Instead, they are objectified. Also, many of the individuals that are targeted have done great things for campus and the community — it’s a shame they are subjected to such cruelty by their peers. The bottom line is that the site has done nothing but hurt and embarrass people and no one should have to go through that.

Masudur: Lina, while I agree that Juicy Campus is a festering waste of bandwidth, populated by complete scumbags with far too much time on their hands and no conscience to speak of, the social hierarchies promoted by the Greek community may be the reason they’re so often targeted for criticism. Perhaps if the Greek society wasn’t so fragmented and competitive within itself, there would be less disgusting things posted on that website. And yes, Tim, the marker-moustache did finally come off after three showers.

Tim: Really? Damn, I thought we used a permanent marker. Anyway, you two really think sites like Juicy Campus are detrimental to the university students and community? I think it’s great! In this celebrity-obsessed culture, it’s like our university’s own tabloid. It’s even more than just a tabloid — it’s a watchdog tool against the students who think they can get away with doing anything without repercussions.

Masudur: Oh please, Tim, don’t pretend. You only want to read Juicy Campus because you want to know who has STDs so you can avoid dating them. It’s clear to me that websites such as Juicy Campus exist only to harm and demean fellow classmates. It’s unfortunate that such a horrid waste of cyberspace is so popular, but that is the way of young people. Other social networking tools, such as Facebook, have harmful side effects to be sure. However, their positive impact easily overpowers those. Much like other good things that we come across in our college days, responsible use is key.