My Truth About Facebook – by Margaret Hart
I wonder what most people think about Facebook? Do you think, as does one of my dear friends, that it’s a colossal “time suck” and worthless? Or do you think it’s fun and a great way to keep in touch with friends? Or maybe you are like me, you have a basic profile, but are not very active; you are more of a browser than a participant.
When Facebook first came out, I signed on. I didn’t post much. Then I deleted my profile. I received friend requests and some nasty emails from friends who were annoyed when I didn’t accept their invitation to become “friends.” After a while, I signed up again, and have now had a Facebook account for quite some time. I have ridden the waves of changes and participated from somewhat of a distance.
For me, the value of Facebook early on was in finding and reconnecting with old school friends. It was fun to see and talk with friends from as far back as elementary school that I hadn’t seen or talked with in more than 20 years. Sometimes learning about their lives was inspiring; sometimes it was very sad. I felt myself alternating between feelings of jealousy, anger, and sadness. But there was a lot of joy, too.
But after exchanging updates with long lost friends, the thrill of Facebook was gone. I knew that I was not going to be one of those people who posts every day, every hour, and needs to let people know that I had a mocha latte for breakfast. I just didn’t see the value in that sort of communication. Maybe I’m wrong, but who really cares what you have for breakfast or that you ran five errands on Saturday?
There is much that I don’t like about Facebook. I don’t like people who feel the need to post the mundane details of their lives, minute-by-minute. I don’t need to know who needs more eggs for their “farm” in Farmville. I don’t need to be asked what is special about me, or participate in an awkward quiz about how many people think I’m a loyal friend. And I can do without seeing the false stories posted about people torturing dogs, or children with life threatening illnesses who need money for medical care. While I try to avoid reading those posts, I guess I do so out of curiosity and sheer amazement that so many people believe them to be true. How many times have you “shared” a posting when you were told you would get a free gift card?
What I like about Facebook today is that it can be a good tool for learning. When I “like” something or someone, I can stay abreast of activities, events, and news that I might not otherwise have known about. As the medium has grown, so have I. I’ve learned how to weed out the junk, and spot items of interest and value to me. I like to see photos and videos, and to read opinions and news about matters of importance in our world. I like to read posts from other moms about things their kids say and do; it helps to know your kid is not the only one who (fill in the blank.) In that sense, Facebook, for me, is now just another source of information.
As businesses have learned to use the site to their advantage, many of us on Facebook have learned it’s helpful to “like” places, products and services. We have become the social media fans of social media fan clubs. I don’t mind that.
It will be interesting to see where Facebook goes in future. Will it end up like a sleazy tabloid or will it regroup and stay relevant? No one can deny it is a powerful form of communication. I know this is going to sound hokey, but I hope someone, some genius, comes up with a way to harness it’s power for real good for our world.