Nearly half a billion Facebook (FB) users around the world and I seldom find a person willing to admit they use Facebook. The most common response to the question, are you on Facebook is “Who me? What a waste of time.” And, with that response there is the tone of self-righteousness that suggests that because they are not – they are a part of a social elite that is above the masses.
I must stipulate that some of my friends and family accuse me of a FB addiction. I am not sure it is an addiction, but I first came to FB motivated by the desire to keep my eight children and four brothers and sisters informed of my whereabouts and “save the world” activities. My “Friends” list has grown to 530 and I prune that list several times a year and rid myself of the extremists who want nothing more than to vilify Obama or Palin.
I do a status update once or twice a day. Occasionally on a weekend, I do more. I like reading about the lives and activities of “Friends.” I love gossip and I am a social voyeur. I cannot read in airports because I just love watching people. FB is a place to celebrate, complain, inform and to feed the narcissistic self without much damage or need for rebuttal. Call me insecure, but I like knowing what people think about me and my ideas. Because I like being liked – I always check to see if my status updates have created a reaction or if people are in agreement or disagreement with my sage advice. I confess I like it when there are a lot of comments to my status update. I don’t think that makes me a maniacal, egotistical, self-absorbed creature. It does validate opinions but more often provides me with new ideas or ways to think about a topic.
I discover FB is exactly what I choose to make it. I can freely post comments, pictures, notes and links to other sources. I can remove them as freely as I post them. If I don’t like a post or an attitude, I can hit the “x” spot and it is gone or disappears. I can choose my friends, I can eliminate them if they anger me, and I can hide material from my family and friends if I don’t want them to know about that one wild and crazy evening in Palma, Majorca. It is not an illusion that I have more control over the content on FB than is generally understood. The FB critics in the universe are all alarmed about privacy issues on FB. My name, ideas, my key words are being sold to advertisers. Hello – what’s new? Ever since the advent of commercial communications you have been sold to advertisers without your permission. Either I am a very boring person or I have “aged out” of most of the commercial market except for Depends or Viagra. I don’t seem to get a lot of advertising that I don’t want to see.
I love the people, who with a tone of self-righteousness tell me I don’t want people to see my private information or I don’t have the need to post my life all over the internet. Well, that is fine – but I also suspect these good folk need a foil to let everyone know they are unique or different. It was like me in the mid-70s saying, “I will never use a computer to write or publish my ideas. If it can’t be done on a typewriter, I am not publishing it.” I mean really, once IBM came out with eraser ribbon, what more did you need? Eventually, I caved.
It is okay not to use FB, but don’t judge those of us who use it for a way to communicate without duplicating communication. I now have told my staff and colleagues, if you want to know what I am doing or what I am thinking, I suggest you friend me on FB. This has saved countless e-mails, reports and duplication of communication. It is a record of my journey, often my ideas and a place to learn. I picked up three new clients, five consultants and been exposed to great ideas on FB. And when I share an idea, I get a quick poll on its merits or interest. To my friends and colleagues – it is okay to be on FB. You are not a bad person and it is not necessarily an evaluation of your social life that you spend an hour or two a day in front of the inviting blue colors of FB hoping somebody will respond to your most recent status update. Make FB what you want it to be.
Right now, I am hoping that Mark Zuckerberg is reading this defense of his social network invention and wanting to “Friend” me so he can fund my many humanitarian projects throughout the world. After all FB is all about me. Really, it is!
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