Social Media Scholar Maia Berlow went into the uncharted territory of discovering the allure behind becoming a Facebook celeb. You know ‘em, you love ‘em, or you love to hate ‘em (but really secretly love them because they make the group so much better).
Every grade has them. Those kids that post incessantly on the admitted students page before everyone gets to school. Everyone knows their names, everyone knows their profile pictures, but does anyone really know those Facebook famous students? I decided to learn more about some of the Columbia Class of 2018 Facebook fames and why they post so darn much. All the students interviewed had been named “Facebook Famous” by multiple sources, and not surprisingly, not one of the seven declined to be interviewed (although one ended up getting out of it). It could be expected that they would be pretty full of themselves, and the interviews to be very odd, but they all proved to be fascinating and enthusiastic.
All of them posted for the first time in their Facebook group out of the excitement that came from getting into Columbia. “It was like shaking up a Coke bottle and just having it burst out everywhere,” said Alexander Birkel about the anticipation to get into Columbia and then being able to interact with other future Columbia students. Thomas Nielsen had taken a gap year and so by the time the 2018 page came about he was “very zealous and excited to meet everybody.” Most of our Facebook fames had been admitted early and they were all dying to meet their new classmates and, at the time, Facebook was the easiest way to do that.
They all had different comfort levels with internet communication; Heather Macomber and Nielsen attended online high schools and were pros at communicating via the internet. Others were just excited to get into that “frenzy of ‘oh-my-god-I’m-so-excited-we’re-going-to-be-classmates,’” as Caroline Lee said. The Facebook group provided a place to organize meetups or online hangouts and it became a safe haven of intellectual conversations, and a realization that soon they would be able to escape high school. “It was really interesting getting to talk to people from all over the world and hear their experiences,” noted Will Essilfie. The Facebook group provided a way for people to debate current events or just UChicago vs Columbia (though we’re not sure why anyone even needed to debate that).