Face books more, Facebook less

The invention of Mark Zuckerberg is undoubtedly the bomb. Though just ten years old this April, if Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world with some 500 million citizens, including, of course, millions of Nigerians.

Well, what you first read about the population is outdated. That was exactly what I was told in 2010 at a conference of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) in Melbourne, Australia. The truth now is that as Zuckerberg announced on September 14, 2012, the population of Facebook citizens is over a billion. The growth rate is staggering.

The excited Zuckerberg wrote on his blog that day, “This morning, there are more than one billion people using Facebook actively each month. If you are reading this: thank you for giving me and my little team the honor of serving you. Helping a billion people connect is amazing, humbling and by far the thing I am most proud of in my life.”

Between 2010 and now, I won’t be surprised if “Facebookians” (those who inhabit the Facebook country) and “Facebookers” (those who actually use Facebook regularly) have exceeded the population of China. Two years is long enough to grow a few hundreds of million users if you are Facebook.

For all his talent, as the Saturday Sun of August 30, 2014, (p.38) reported, the net worth of Zuckerberg is $33.5 billion as at August 2014. This makes him much richer than the richest man in Africa, our own Alhaji Aliko Dangote, whose fortune is $17 billion. And he is simple to the core. He cruises the town in “ordinary” Acura TSX and Honda Fit, not Ferrari and Lamborghini like some of our corrupt politicians and lousy musicians.

However, beyond the glitz and the razzmatazz, Facebook, here as a hypernym for other social media like Twitter, 2go, LinkedIn, myspace, viber, etc., is one of the greatest enemies of Nigerian students nowadays. It is one huge distraction they should be wary of.

Facebooking has capacity to distract one from attaining academic excellence. It is definitely much easier to chat away and hop from one shared site to the other than burrow one’s heads in books. But the pains of study must be endured to achieve the gain of academic success.

After my Facebook account, which I opened after a lot of subtle pressure from well-meaning Facebookians, was compromised by a hacker and identity thief two years ago and I was able to render the account useless for him or her, I said good riddance to “bad rubbish”. It was a time I was finding it difficult to cope with several notifications of messages anda deluge of information, including the utterly useless.

But in order not to throw the baby out with the bath water, after some months I overcame my Facebook fatigue and opened another one. Apart from messages you need to respond to, there is a steady flow of information that you have to keep pace with. You definitely would appreciate the use, misuse and abuse of the platform.

The reality of today is that rather than use Facebook to advance knowledge and share valuable information, many students have turned it to a gossip forum. Several thousands of those who should be learning seriously hang out on the social media connecting for nothing.

They practically wake and sleep on Facebook, updating status, liking and commentingon anything and everything ultimately wasting valuable time. I know those who are permanently online, whose jobs don’t actually require it.

Some students tell their Facebook friends when they are in the toilet and where they are when they are travelling. They update their status when they take their bath and reveal the colour of their new under-wears.

I don’t have information on how often Zukerberg himself updates his Facebook status but it is known he has posted only 19 tweets in the last three and half years. There are students who tweet more than that number per day. Rather than face their books squarely, they Facebook all the time and tweet away valuable time.

There are enough blames to go round for the poor academic performance of students in public examinations. But if students fulfil their own part of the bargain, change their attitude to education by working hard and avoiding distractions, the situation will improve.

That is why I like the comment of someoneon Nairaland who attributed the recent mass failure in WAEC examinations to some factors, largely bordering on students, the first of whichis “Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, Myspace and generally browsing on the internet.”

Others are: English Premier League/ European Football League; DSTV/Home Video; GSM and Blackberry; Quest for cheap fame and wealth; craze for talent shows; ever busy parents and weak government policies.

Rather than complain about this and that, let students face their business of schooling squarely, avoid distractions as much as possible and they will be safe from the agony of failure. They can start that process by Facebooking less and facing their books more, the same point I made in a November 15, 2012 report of the Nigerian Tribune.