All around the world, facebook has become an internet sensation. The website is visited daily by millions of people, and visitors cannot get enough of what the site has to offer. The reason many people feel “hooked” to facebook is because of the effective way in which it uses visual and verbal text. By observing how facebook uses the key concepts mentioned in chapter one of Picturing Texts, one can see what gains the social networking site so much popularity.
To begin with, facebook creates balance by using colors, spacing, and alignment. Apart from the pictures posted by friends, facebook uses limited amount of colors: blue and white. Occasionally, there is a highlighter color of bright green to accent certain buttons such as “Log in” or “Join.” The sparing use of this color creates a higher value of it for visitors. The simple color schemes differentiates facebook from other websites, where there is clash of colors, flashing images, or distracting, bright highlights, that upset the viewers and ends their visit to that site.
Another thing facebook does systematically is align its material. The newsfeed, which is the main reason people visit facebook, is placed in the center, whereas chat screens are aligned to the left of the newsfeed and mini advertisements and birthday announcements are placed on the right of the newsfeed. Despite all this information, the far end of the screen contains white space, which is appeasing to the visitor, and it avoids making the page look cluttered.
When one looks at the left panel on facebook, there is a perfect example of classification. There are buttons on the screen that read “newsfeed,” “photos,” “apps,” “favorites,” etc. Members have the ability to customize these links, and by doing so, they categorically differentiate what pages go under what tab. These tabs have text on them, but under each tab, there are pages of similarity linked together.
A common activity on facebook is the posting of pictures. However, unlike other image sharing sites, facebook allows members to caption their pictures. The caption can include many different descriptions including location, the people captured in the picture, the mood of the picture, and more. This allows members to tell a story about their picture, creating efficient communication between them and their friends. Through this system, “words and images can work together, with words describing details we may not be able to see” (Faigley 32).
Facebook also uses emphasis to help members navigate the site easier. For one, birthdays appear in the right-hand corner with a bright red gift box next to the names of the friends whose birthday occurs on the day. Birthday and special events are something people want to be reminded of, and by adding emphasis with a picture next to the names, members can easily wish their friends a “happy birthday.” The “like” sign on facebook also adds emphasis to certain posts. By seeing the “like” sign next to something we posted (or something posted by others), we automatically focus on that post because we assume it to be interesting or engaging. Therefore, the “like” sign serves the purpose of emphasis for certain posts, while its absence takes away attention from others.
Facebook also allows people to narrate their everyday lives. By updating statuses, writing notes, or writing on other people’s walls, members can inform their friends about “what is happening” in their lives. Facebook allows people to use language as narration, along with visual images to tell a story of a certain day or a certain event. These narrations can take on many different points of views. By tagging friends in a post, we can try to show conversation or dialogue that was shared between us. Sometimes, we can directly quote a person, showing their perspective of the situation rather than our expected first person narrative.
With the new timeline option on facebook, members are also able to proportionate certain contexts they add on their profile. If something is of importance, they can maximize it, and if something is of less importance, they can minimize it. What matters to them most is mainly placed as their cover photo, which is the largest object of the page, and also the center of attention.
Once we observe the many different concepts working together to form facebook, we are able to see why it is so successful. If facebook lacked these different concepts, it is possible that visitors would not be attracted to the site, making it another unknown social network. However, the creative relationship between visual and textual description of the website promotes it to visitors and encourages them to become members of facebook.