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The Dartmouth
June 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Freshmen connect with friends on thefacebook

Thefacebook.com, the website whose popularity has spread like a conjunctivitis epidemic across campus, has even infected many incoming members of the Class of 2008, who are months away from matriculation.

On its homepage, the site offers to "see a visualization of your social network" and "find out who is in your classes," but it has aided those who have yet to sit through their first Dartmouth lecture.

As of Tuesday, 183 incoming Dartmouth freshmen have signed up on the site; that number excludes '08s who did not specify their class years. Considering that 1,095 members of the Class of 2008 submitted letters of intent to matriculate at the College in May, over 16 percent of '08s have already signed up for thefacebook. This compares with the 3,309 in total currently listed as Dartmouth students on the site.

Dartmouth's explosion in usage of thefacebook among incoming freshmen mirrors trends at the other schools covered by the service. Some members of the Class of 2008 have online friend rolodexes that rival even a seasoned users of thefacebook. At press time, Jeffrey Coleman '08 sported 149 friends, Alexis Meza '08 followed at Coleman's heels with 133 friends, while Annie Son '08 was right behind Meza with 131 friends.

Diane Ellis '08, a possible psychology major from California, said she finds thefacebook to be a helpful tool, although "it is weird to be 'friends' with people you've never met."

Ellis met most of her 36 online friends through either her time spent on campus at Dimensions or with the Navigators. Those first acquaintances introduced Ellis via thefacebook to a host of other '08s, with whom she occasionally converses on the telephone or Internet.

"'08s love it because we are making a circle of friends," Ellis said.

New Yorker Annie Greengard '08, who boasts 54 friends, agreed that thefacebook has been of help in connecting her classmates. She said she especially enjoys how the site can breakdown geographical barriers that would normally limit pre-freshmen interaction, but once on campus, she plans to use the service less often.

"I won't be on facebook as much when I have real friends and not just Internet ones," she said, "but it's fun and great to have reassurance that you know more people going into college."

Even though she finds thefacebook "a little stalkerish and impersonal," Carolyn Kylstra '08 of North Carolina said she is comforted by learning a few facts about her class because she applied early decision based on only one visit.

"You can't really learn much about a person's personality based on what kind of music he likes or what his favorite books are," she said. "At the same time, however, it's better than knowing nothing at all."

Other '08s said the facebook phenomenon has gone overboard. Sarah Stern '08 of Maryland, whose major is listed as government on her profile, criticized those who sport hundreds of friends before arriving on campus.

"Some people are like friend fascists," she said. "They add like 30,000 people as friends and it's ridiculous."

But, she did agree that thefacebook can be helpful for incoming students to identify their new classmates. At the least, she said, thefacebook has provided her with entertainment over her jobless summer.

Although most incoming freshmen only list other '08s in their friend networks, many upperclassmen have befriended a stable of soon-to-be Dartmouth students, the trend mainly being older males befriending '08 females. Most females agreed that the attention was "weird," but said they don't feel threatened.

"I think it's kind of typical," Stern said of upperclassmen sizing up incoming freshmen girls. "If they aren't going to do it on thefacebook, they will do it when we get to campus, or they can go through the Green Book."

Like Ellis, most of Stern's friends remain fellow '08s, despite the attention from older classes. Ellis wasn't fazed by the random upperclass friend requests, because many were already online friends with other '08s she knew. Ellis said that perhaps '08s have yet to familiarize themselves with the "ethical standards" of thefacebook, as the majority of '08 friends have never even met in real life.

Georgian Ty Moddelmog '08 said thefacebook has been helpful in meeting fellow incoming freshmen, if not to make long-lasting friends, then to at least recognize a few "familiar faces" upon campus arrival.

When asked how he felt about upperclassmen using thefacebook as a way to get a head start in meeting attractive '08 girls, Moddelmog didn't mince words.

"I think it's pretty pathetic," he said. "But it's not necessarily threatening, because people can do that with that book that you all publish," he said, referring to the Green Book.

One upperclassmen male who hasn't shied away from befriending '08s, Tyler Manegold '06, said that '08 efforts to meet long-lasting friends over thefacebook will probably not work.

"It isn't going to do any good," he said. "No one 'really' uses thefacebook for anything but to procrastinate, but it's still fun."

He said that '08s will meet friends through more traditional means, such as Dartmouth Outing Club trips and simply being on campus. Manegold said he befriended several '08 while bored on his Mexico LSA.