I admit it, I’m selfish when it comes to Facebook. Whenever my mom asks me whether or not she should be on Facebook, I say no, definitely not, no way. And does she need one? Ok, truth: No one needs Facebook. But in an increasingly digitized world, Facebook is a platform that builds and maintains communities internationally. Maybe a Facebook account would help my mom to find old friends she’s lost touch with and keep track of the comings and goings of the spread-out Taylor family. Do you want more truth? I don’t want the hassle. You know, What’s a profile? What’s a wall? Why does anyone want an Internet farm? And I don’t want the questions. Why on earth did you put that picture up there? Why did you say that to Emily? Why are you friends with her?
After reading a thread on one of my favorite writer forums, the Absolute Writer Water Cooler, my outlook has changed. I’ve begun to see my mom’s Facebook curiosity not as something annoying and time consuming, but as an expression of interest in where the world is currently heading: online, online, online. The thread’s subject is: “I refuse to join Facebook…is that so horrible?”
The short answer is: No. Many of the responses echo my answer, but the vehemency with which some writers attack Facebook is surprising and a not just a little shortsighted. It seems to me that the decision to not join Facebook, or other social networks, is sometimes born more of stubbornness and lack of understanding (or desire to understand) new technology that is becoming increasingly important in modern society, than a well-reasoned, fair evaluation of the usefulness of the medium.
What can Facebook do for you?
- Stay in touch with friends, family and coworkers, no matter where you are in the world
- Promote yourself and your product, whether its a book or a business or a brownie
- Entertain you. If you’re really bored, well, maybe Internet farming is the game for you.
- Help you keep track of events that you and yours friends are going to
- Discover new interests
One responder said she almost “caved” and registered for an account because she thought she was missing out on something. Another “checked it out and didn’t see the point of it.” Some have concerns about privacy. But some are, in my very, very humble opinion, misguided.
Here’s where I refute that silly Facebook assertion:
“I don’t understand why people say they use Facebook to share photos with friends. Uh…never heard of emails?
And if you need FB to reconnect with someone you’ve lost touch with…what does it say about your friendship that you lost touch in the first place?”
Ahem. Say I went to my cousin’s wedding and took a bunch of pictures. Like, 50. 50 pictures. Have you ever tried to attach 50 pictures to an email? If you answered yes to that question, either A. you discovered it was a huge waste of time because you can’t actually send 50 pictures in one email, or B. you need to give me the name of your email host so that I can send huge files across the Interwebs just like you. The great thing about Facebook photo albums is that you can upload a bunch of pictures and prest-o, chang-o, there they are for people to see. Without clogging up inboxes or getting stuck in spam folders. And you can tag people. See, the fun of social networking never ends! I can tag my cousin in a photo and her best friend, who I’m not friends with, could, potentially, still see that photo of her at her wedding and feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Which brings me to Exhibit B:
Similarly, why not have your own website instead of a Facebook page? If your name is Hillo Beans, shouldn’t you at least own hillobeans.com?
Well, that’s because a Web site and Facebook do different things. You can interact with people on Facebook, people you don’t necessarily know and people who don’t necessarily know you. While Web 2.0’s user generated content is growing by leaps and bounds, you’re going to be paying a lot of money to get top-quality reader interaction and community growth tools on your very own Web site.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Facebook is free. And other people are there, which means that they don’t need to search to find you, they could simply stumble across your profile or page and decide that you are the best thing since sliced bread.
The thing to remember is that Facebook isn’t about you. Facebook is about your community, and it’s constantly changing. While it’s true that you don’t need to be on Facebook, you can’t deny it’s importance. Simply by being an active Facebook user, you are gaining a potential audience of over 400 million people. Depending on your target audience, Facebook could be the rainbow you follow to that elusive pot of gold. The average user has 130 friends and is connected to over 60 groups, pages and events. Twenty-five billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook alone every month. That could be you.
So my question is, why not? I think that’ll be my answer, as well, the next time my mom asks if she should have a Facebook account to call her own. Seriously: Why not?