Facebook: The next generation of instant friends

As the Fall semester neared, I began to worry about the incoming freshmen. It frightened me to think that these new students would not have a chance to meet nor attend orientation until the weekend before school began. I tried to remember how I dealt with my new environment as a freshman, but that seemed like years ago.

While anguishing over the freshmen’s plight, I continued my daily browsing of thefacebook.com. After receiving friendship requests from old high school buddies who graduated in May, I reached my summer’s divine revelation: The class of 2009 was on thefacebook. As giddy high school seniors, the class of 2009 had heard, some even seen, the Internet website of college students that is thefacebook. As the parents of these young adults wrote the University of Miami a big fat tuition check, this promising group of incoming freshmen finally received their UM e-mail addresses-their gateway to groups, messaging, walls and, of course, poking.

With intense friend viewing and group searching, I found students from the class of 2009 to be new members of the thefacebook from as early as April. If last year’s students thought they were facebook junkies, this new crop of ‘Canes chomped down on the bit until it broke. These students were excited to be closer to the next phase of their lives; I was there once, too. I continued my investigative research because April seemed a little too soon. As I scrolled through the accounts of various incoming freshmen, I noticed most fields to be completely entered.

Scrolling further, these new members were already part of several or hundreds of groups, and as I recently figured out how to turn on my wall, the freshmen already had endless walls.

Then my eyes wandered over to the right side of the page, where they bulged out of their sockets as I saw the number of friends these students had already accumulated without attending UM yet. Girls with 200 friends, others with 500. Guys with 170, another with four (he had just joined that day). One thing was for certain: The freshmen were creating massive friendships that dwarfed my measly 150 friends that I proudly accumulated in a year.

How could these new students have so many friends already? UM must have decided to have summer orientation. No, they did not, but thefacebook did.

I hope the person with 200 friends maintains every friendship or at least meets each person face to face; they owe their quasi-friends that much.

Congratulations to this Internet website. It is helping ease the transition into college; however, I am still angry with the recent surge of middle school acquaintances, who I thought I had finally lost, asking to be my friend. I did get my redemption. I kept those past schoolmates in purgatory-that area in thefacebook cyberspace when someone asks to be your friend and you have yet to confirm or reject the friendship-for weeks before I slapped myself for acting so petty and confirmed the childhood friend.

I do not know how the freshmen did it. Whether they selected the most attractive people or ones they held similar interests with, I was unable to close the case. UM is a large school, so good luck finding all these friends. As for me, I am just happy that I have a few more thousand accounts to browse; I was getting bored already. In time, you realize that you maintain relationships with five of your facebook friends. And as they will soon learn, there is much floating around on thefacebook. com, so please remember to use protection when poking. Sam Rega can be contacted at s.rega@umiami.edu.