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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    New Facebook enemies app obvious next step

    Facebook, the social networking site touted for making connections and enriching relationships, is on its way to enemy territory.

    The Chronicle of Higher Education reported on a new Facebook plug-in called EnemyGraph, which allows users to list their enemies on their Facebook profiles, alongside their hundreds of “friends.”

    The program was created by Dean Terry, director of the emerging media and communications program at the University of Texas at Dallas. He was inspired by Facebook’s use and abuse of the like button, which leads to the site’s emphasis on friendships and happiness. Before everyone writes Terry off as a pessimist, he makes a valid point.

    While people may argue they use the site to stay in touch or to network, it has really turned into a place for people to glamorize their lives, scream for attention and trick acquaintances into thinking they are nicer and more outgoing than they really are.

    In reality, people are sitting alone, behind computer screens, selectively choosing what they say and only looking at what people want them to see. Facebook is artificial, and Terry’s new app brings some much-needed authenticity into the picture.

    Through profiles, status updates and photo albums, Facebook users get to direct other users’ impressions of them. And when the norm is to like everything, compliment everyone and only be happy, misrepresentations and delusional mentalities are bound to form.

    For instance, a study published in last month’s issue of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking found that people who used Facebook more were more inclined to think that other people were happier and had better lives, and that life was unfair. Aside from status updates, Facebook doesn’t provide an outlet to share dislikes, disagreements or dissatisfactions.

    Despite a few Facebook petitions to create a dislike button, there has been no progress until now. Terry originally wanted to use the word “dislike” in his new program, but Facebook banned the word for two reasons: to prevent someone from creating a dislike button, and to keep users from disliking its advertisers’ products, according to the Chronicle’s article.

    Some critics are already worried about the negativity this enemy feature might bring. Will it increase the rate of cyberbullying? Will peoples’ feelings get hurt?

    Research by UA psychology professor David Sbarra has shown that when some people are un-friended on Facebook, they experience negative psychological effects. If that’s the case, then EnemyGraph could perpetuate some serious psychological impact.

    Sure, if taken too seriously people can get mean, show their ugly sides and reveal their true colors. Or, people can just have some honest fun with it. An enemy can be anything or anyone.

    For example, on EnemyGraph’s website, people can see trending enemies such as Rick Santorum, Rush Limbaugh and Nickelback.

    When people venture out of the virtual world and into the real one, they’re not constantly complimenting each other, liking each other’s ideas, outfits or looks. People rarely even make eye contact with each other.

    This app shakes things up and adds some realness to the chummy site. On Terry’s personal website, he writes that while people connect over mutual interests, people also connect over mutual dislikes.

    Being a little negative or a little realistic on Facebook doesn’t have to be taboo. EnemyGraph is a feature to be liked.

    — Kelly Hultgren is a junior studying journalism and communication. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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