I Just Can’t Quit You, Facebook

My Google Reader feed picked up a blog entry re-tweeted by another friend that argues that Facebook and similar Internet technology can be distractions that can hurt you academically.  From Study Hacks:

“After clicking around the web for a bit, I would become incredibly bored,” Daniel recalls. There’s something about the “endless trickle of messages” served up by Facebook that proves especially addictive. Without that steady supply of attention crack, it became easy for Daniel to “swear off the Internet.”

Consider, for example, a calculus final he faced during his first Facebook-free semester.

“With the time and concentration I regained, I was able to hunt down and complete problems from 20 different practice final exams, and then get tutoring on any issues that remained.”

The average grade on the exam was a 34. Daniel scored an 80.

So, is this true for law school?  I can’t even count how many other law students at BUSL have sworn off Facebook for finals, or to write a paper, or for Lent, as if checking your friend’s newest photo gallery was akin to super-sizing your McDonald’s value meal.

The question remains – does Facebook hurt your law school performance?  My evidence is purely anecdotal – though that does not differentiate it much from the Study Hacks article, for the record.  In law school, though, I know plenty of people who are in the top 20% of the class who use Facebook – and some that don’t.  I also know a lot of people in the bottom half of my class that refuse to use Facebook for any number of reasons.  I’ve never seen any correlation between Facebook use and law school grades – or at least any correlation that couldn’t be explained through any number of different factors.

Any decision to quit Facebook is complicated by the fact that law is inherently a social career.  To a certain extent, all careers are social – it even helps for an engineer to have people skills.  But legal work goes beyond that.  As an attorney, you need to be able to build and keep track of potential clients and different attorneys.   Networking is much more important for job searching than knowing how to use Monster.com.   Programs like Facebook and gChat help you maintain those networks in ways that were previously thought impossible.

If used improperly or irresponsibly, Facebook might hurt your study efforts.  But, ultimately, you don’t want to quit Facebook because it might distract you from your classwork and affect your grades.  You probably have bigger problems.  And there are plenty of better reasons to become a neo-Luddite, such as:

  • Being addicted to technology in general
  • The serious privacy concerns with Facebook and Google Buzz
  • You hate every Facebook redesign ever
  • You still use MySpace, even though Tom is gone.
  • You miss Scrabulous.
  • And many more!

If you think quitting Facebook is the one-shot way to cure your ailing law school career, though, you’re just a bit off.