I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Facebook, even though I have an active personal account and I also regularly use the site to plug my blog. Perhaps I should think twice before I have this little rant, but always the one to jump in headfirst and think of the consequences later, here goes…
I’ve been a member of Facebook since 2007 and have been on Twitter since 2009, apart from a brief period where I decided to leave Twitter, determined not to get sucked into another social networking site.
Twitter bothers me less than Facebook because I actually find it can be quite useful for professional networking and also for finding out what’s going on locally and whilst Facebook is increasingly being used by businesses – with positive effect – the site sits quite uncomfortably with me as a personal user.
You wouldn’t think this to look at my profile because I update it regularly, so why do I feel this way? Well, I’m not always too sure because I’ve never had a really horrific experience with Facebook – you know those stories you hear about where someone gets sacked for skiving off work but then updates their status accordingly, thinking no one from work can see it – that kind of thing. I just think a lot of how I feel comes down to the fact that I’ve been on Facebook for nearly five years now and I actually can’t imagine life without it – a revelation which truly appals me.
Now, let me just try and redeem myself a little bit here – I don’t, by any stretch of the imagination, spend hours on Facebook of an evening. In fact, I don’t spend hours on it at any time of day, I just tend to pop on and off a lot, more so now that I have a smartphone, which makes the site far more accessible. If I’m out and about and have a few minutes to spare whilst I wait for someone for example, I’ll think: “Oh I’ll just have a look on Facebook”. But why, oh why, do I need to look at what’s happening? Nothing will have changed – it will still be a collection of people posting either their every brainwave as a status update or a selection of photos from a boozy night out (I’m not saying I have never been guilty of this myself, by the way). Can’t I just use those few spare moments to do something productive instead??
“Do we really need to use a website in order to maintain friendships with those around us?”
Although I can’t really imagine it, I would love to go back to a simpler time when Facebook didn’t exist, when we could call or meet one another and catch up on what’s going on in each other’s lives, rather than having a spy on someone’s profile and then making our own assumptions on the current state of their life. Without Facebook, there would also probably be less tensions in friendships and relationships, as people wouldn’t be able to see posts and pictures between other people and think things like: “So they went on a night out and didn’t invite me?”
I was at a conference with work last week, which was actually about how social media can be used to assist in continued professional development, and it was stated that on average, 80% of the people on a person’s Facebook friend list live within a 50 mile radius and the speaker then backed this statistic up with the statement: “So, Facebook is a global tool but it is mostly used locally to sustain physical relationships.”
If this statement is true, it’s a scary prospect. Do we really need to use a website in order to maintain friendships with those around us?
I really admire those people who rarely use Facebook or, even better, have no profile at all. Like a true addict, I would love to be free of this dependency I have and have thought many times about deactivating my account but you know what I’m scared of? I’m scared of missing out on hearing about ‘events’ that are going on around me and I’m scared that I’ll lose touch with quite a few people because I’m not as easily accessible. But then I guess there’s the argument that if they really wanted to get in touch, then they would make an effort to – with or without Facebook.
Apologies if this comes across as a bit of a bleak, ranty, Facebook-bashing post! I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic… What do you like/dislike about Facebook? Can you imagine a life without it?! If you’ve never joined the site, do you feel like you may have missed out on anything?