Facebook Friend or Foe?
Facebook is probably the most influential communication tool since the invention of the internet. Having a Facebook page is deemed as necessary as having a mobile phone and is a huge phenomenon across the globe. Mark Zuckerberg founder of Facebook is reportedly worth $4 billion, the film The Social Network picked up four Golden Globe awards and is set to do great things at The Oscars. I personally think it’s a marvellous business marketing tool too. It’s an easy way to get in touch with a specific target audience and increase sales of any brand or product. Large corporations recognise the importance of this tool and now employ staff to solely work on social network marketing. According to the internet research I carried out (so it MUST be true) Facebook subscribers are over 500 million strong and counting, all of these people can’t be wrong… can they??
With all this in mind, why don’t I have Facebook page? I’m a writer, communicating is my living, but yet I fight against the pressure to get a personal Facebook account. I’m not really sure why, I just feel very uncomfortable at the thought of it. For me there are several perils and pitfalls. Firstly your parents having access to your social life, secondly your exes, thirdly the trouble I have seen it cause others and lastly the sheer paranoia of one company network owning personal information on half the bloody world! Let me quite one-sidely try and convince you that Facebook will eventually bring you trouble in one way or another.
I’ve been to many a BBQ or party, met some new people, had some beers and great times and when the inevitable goodbye happens 80% of the people I’ve spent time with say “Hey, are you on Facebook?” and I respond “No! I don’t have it!” Silence. You can hear the chink of glass on tabletop, the crunch of a crisp, a muffled snigger. “WHAT?? You don’t have Facebook?” Instantly ostracised from a group of people I wouldn’t have minded catching up with down the track. With the new social etiquette emerging I can’t offer them my mobile number, heaven forbid! That would be far too forward and personal. I just have to smile and wave as they disappear forever.
I don’t understand it fully. Why would you want one thousand of the most distant acquaintances you know reading “I’m feeling a bit sad” or “Is over men and mean it this time.” Really? Do you want these people knowing your innermost thoughts and feelings? Would you call them and tell them that “you were having your third date with brad and hoped to get lucky?” Or send them an email to tell them “I’m off to the doctors fingers crossed” NO! You wouldn’t because these people would think you were weird to tell them every tiny moment or mood change in your day. It’s baffling to me! I knew one girl who ACTUALLY posted on her page photos of her bleeding, stitched up gums after a wisdom tooth removal. Flabbergasted. These distant acquaintances may send you a virtual hug or poke or a throwaway message “Hang in there babe” or “Get out there girlfriend “I am cringing as I type, but how many of these people will pick up the phone to you when they know you are down, or haemorrhaging from your wisdom tooth operation? Would they drive to your house to nurse you or take you down the pub to forget your troubles? Not many of that one thousand I can tell you.
My parents are also on Facebook and that brings its own problems, through family, friends and exes there is always six degrees of separation and through no fault of my own I have now been burned twice by epic Facebook fails involving breach of information and I don’t even have a freaking Facebook page! Question. Would you let your parents have your hotmail log-in to screen and scroll through your personal emails? A conference call on your personal calls with your mates? Not one of you I bet. I think the below blog puts forward my case strongly and with a few cringe worthy laughs!
A work colleague this very week crumpled into a heap at her desk after discovering through Facebook that her boyfriend was cheating on her. Click. Boyfriends Facebook page. Click. Inappropriate photo found. Click. Photo is enlarged; photo is then zoomed in to full page size. Photo looks a little close for comfort. Anger. Rage. Click. Into mystery chicks page revealing more photos and incriminating comments. Click out. Colleague crumpled, crying and relationship no doubt over. It was heartbreaking to watch.
I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Well it’s not Facebooks fault, its people who cheat, if you don’t do those things you can’t be burnt. Which I accept, but there is sneakiness about Facebook I don’t like. Instead of finding out about a cheating lover it’s as if we are drawn to search for it among the blue and white pages. If you ever have to start looking you won’t stop until you find something bad, and it seems Facebook creates an environment where it’s just too tempting not to look at someone else’s page, look for clues and inevitably open Pandora’s Box.
Maybe I just need to loosen up! Join the bandwagon, get with the times! Facebook isn’t going anywhere. There are probably old, lost friends and family out there who I could reconnect with and never will. There are party invitations I will never get to go to, competitions I can never enter. Flames that will never be rekindled and a million precious photos of my baby nephew which are passing me by.
But having a Dad with the hippy gene in him that has been passed on to his firstborn, the paranoid conspiracy and worry about Facebook in me is strong. There is a whiff of 1984 and “Big Brother” about it for me. A network owning all of this personal information, knowing the worlds likes, dislikes, purchasing and internet habits, very powerful information to use and influence.
But Facebook to many is a true friend. The friend you see every day. The friend who likes to gossip. The one that likes to shop. The one who has the confidence to ask someone you’ve liked for ages out on a date. The funny one who shares a joke to get the whole group laughing and the one who organises the next party. You just need to turn up and you’ll have a great time. Only don’t get drunk, because then Facebook is the friend who posts photos of you naked hugging a toilet bowl to the universe.
My take on it all? This technology makes us communicate more than we ever have before, our social networks are wider but we are interacting with each other much less and just how rich is our social network? So maybe next time you want to send a poke or post a comment on a wall you might pick up the phone, go out for a REAL beer and a REAL laugh and catch up with a REAL mate. If anything do it for the paranoid little blogger who is writing this article so she can sleep a little easier tonight thinking that some of us are still free spirits after all. Let’s start a mini revolution!
Let me know how you go, or share any tales of Facebook woe!