Telling stories

Is it Time to Flee Facebook?

Posted by southwrite on July 10, 2014

computer screenHave you ever asked yourself – what am I doing on Facebook? Many people have and maybe you should as well.

Perusing your friend’s Facebook page you may have come across things that caused you to stop and think, “I don’t know if I would have posted that!” Like those camera phone photos of your buddy drunk, unconscious and a funny picture painted on his face or that near topless shot of your friend’s daughter. Then there are the arguments in which perfectly normal people are suddenly transformed into irrational screaming maniacs.

Then there are the constant changes in Facebook policies and page layouts that seem to drive people crazy. Not to mention revelations that Facebook is manipulating not just your news feed, but your emotions as well. People got pretty upset about that last one  and the company reacted as it usually does – with a yawn.  Add to that news they also keep track of the words that you type and then don’t post. [Think about that.]

A great deal of ink (both real and virtual) has been spilled bemoaning how social media is souring real friendships, wasting time, and even getting people fired.

Some are telling us there’s even an exodus of folks fleeing the site out of boredom or horror. More than 11 million younger users have dumped the site for other social media. Of course, hipsters left the site (mostly for Twitter) long ago when they discovered it had become the providence of older adults and famous quotes. Journalist Ruth Graham tweets “Facebook is the inspiration superhighway.” That doesn’t exactly signal the end of the company considering it has 1.3 billion monthly active users, but clearly more people are thinking about it.

None of this is surprising. Facebook has morphed from a user community into a for profit corporation. It’s primary goal is no longer to serve its users, but to make enough money to please Wall Street and justify its $140 billion valuation. So there will be a lot more “studies” in which you are made the unwitting lab rat of the latest experiment in making the site more “sticky.”

Most of us don’t see Facebook as a business, but rather as the community in which we interact with friends [both real and virtual]. While it’s not the same as everyday live we might be better off if we acted as if it were. Then we probably wouldn’t be saying and posting some of the things that get us into trouble.

FB_FindUsOnFacebook-1024Behind the shield of an internet connection many say things to people that they’d think twice about before uttering in person. Words can be hurtful, both to the feeling of your friends and to your economic wellbeing if intemperate comments are directed at an employer. While you may be able to plausibly deny an off hand comment made over the water cooler, Facebook posts live on forever.

It might be wise to give some consideration to what you type and what you actually post . Think of yourself like a company and consider the “brand” you want to put forth for your public to see.

That means don’t create situations that you’re likely to regret. I’m not saying everyone should be frightened into silence. No, far from it. Just think about whether you’re saying something that you want to stand up for down the road. A well reasoned defense of some political issue can say you’re a thinker. A video of you drunk and unconscious will make you look like you don’t think at all.

In short, we need to accept Facebook for what it is rather than what we’d like it to be. Just as actions have consequences in real life, they can also have them in the not so real world of social media.



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