Thursday, January 19, 2012

Faces Behind Facebook

So, Facebook killed my blog. You can see how the number of posts I've done has dwindled over the last two years. A quick status update or two with what's on my mind is much quicker than my whole blog post, over which I typically agonize and edit to death. So, now my blog can take revenge on FB!

It's How You Say It
Facebook's strength and success is not in its easy-to-use-and-so-consistent-interface (note the extreme sarcasm). It's really in the verbiage and labels it uses for different actions.

Example 1: You post something and few minutes later, you see "John Likes This". Now you think "Wow, that's so cool.. I'm so glad he liked it. John's a great guy and I'm glad I made him feel happy. Glad I posted it." This occurs continuously through the day.

What really occurs is the "Like" function hones in on people's need to please. You post something, your high school friend likes it.. you post again.. your college friend likes it. So by continuously posting and "liking", we're feeding our own egos and others' egos. It feels great to have someone agree and like what you did or said. Definitely come back later.

Example 2: "John Accepted Friend Request".
Wow. You're accepted. Isn't that what we all want in life? We send requests, we accept requests with nary a thought about what we're doing. Just riding the high of feeling connected to people who you really didn't connect with (or so you thought) last time you met, but now they've accepted you. All is good among you and your 1503 close friends. 

Take My Good Side

Everyone's status updates and profiles are what they want to show - photos where they look fabulous and younger, kids look adorable and their achievements abound, vacations are glamorous, etc. There are some posts I see that make me envious - such as friends on international book tours, recognition for prestigious career accomplishments, people who take off on Fridays in the summer. But, this is just a glimpse that people want you to see.So you always have to take things in stride and remember these posts are not representative of the whole picture. 

I was kind of surprised today when I read a high school friend's post. I haven't seen her in more than 20 years, but over the last two years, her FB posts have updated me on where she is in her life and we have a new connection. She's proud and excited mom of two teenagers, she sends warm shout outs to her husband on birthdays and anniversaries, she lost her father after a long battle with cancer, and she's developed a strong sense of her faith. So, I was surprised to see her post about her marital troubles and asking for prayers to rebuild their marriage. It saddened me to think of her in this situation. My first thought was "I had no idea!". But, how would anyone know? Why should anyone know? This is her business, no need to broadcast on FB that her husband left until she needed to tell everyone. She's been just showing the good side.

Yes, there are others who don't want to show the good side. I cried seeing another high school friend's announcement of her breast cancer and tried to reach out to her directly. She was one person (Most Likely to Succeed) that I've been trying to find through Google for the last 10 years. We were fortunate to meet last year and yes, she did succeed greatly!

By the way, it's painful to see I have friends who make FB updates about their cancer treatments.They have amazing attitudes and again, this is a side that we wouldn't know about.

You've Got a Friend..
 When I look at my list of FB friends with whom I communicate regularly (at least through status updates and posts), I'm quite surprised. There were some that I was reluctant to accept because I recall a bland parting or barely remember them. I casually accepted a request from someone who was a college friend of my best friend from high school. I may have met him a total of 3-4 times back in college and she always talked about him and said "Oh you'll like him because he's all artsy." Fast forward 20 years and I accept his FB request out of courtesy. Now, it's crazy to think that he's one of my active followers and commentators. Meanwhile, my best friend is MIA from FB.

And like a rosebush needs to be trimmed every now and then, so does the FB Friend list. I'll end here because I could add more about the generational gap, the need for privacy (or not), and just overall dependencies on the updates. I'll save it for another blog post. It'll force me to come back.

Enjoy the Beatles.. This song reminds me of one night my freshman year in college when my friend John strummed his guitar and sang this song to us in an empty dining hall.

John now posts pictures and videos of his musical adventures on FB so we're all connected again.


Anonymous said...

Seriously, thank you for educating us FB-illiterates with your point of view. Very well written post and now I kind of understand what the fuss is all about. Not completely sold on it yet though.
Is there a double thumbs-up on FB? Your posts deserve them. Also FB should consider introducing other gestures like the middle finger or a fist pump.

- Getting-the-hang-of-it.

Anonymous said...

And I like the revenge. Keep it coming.

Anonymous said...

Oh, did I say "I like it"? Yes, very much! 5 thumbs up.

Ashini said...

Thank you! I've heard people say there needs to be a "dislike", but haven't heard about the other gestures. Oh, that'd be cool - have a animated GIF there instead of just an image.

J.Doe said...

I still am not sold on FB.
A few weeks ago there was a story in the news about a highschooler footballer who had several full scholarships for college but lost them all when reps of the colleges saw his FB account. Will people never learn that some things should be kept private? Perhaps because it is so easy to write a phrase on facebook instead of editing and reediting a post for a blog exists this problem.

Ashini said...

JD - I think that's a problem that's all over the internet. People are posting stupid things on YouTube and their own websites. I think with FB you have a higher volume of users so it'll be a lot more cases of stupid users. OTOH, there are people who are benefiting from FB exposure for their business, articles, and videos.

Anonymous said...

Very few people exploit the social media judiciously. For the rest, it’s like getting tattoos; you are going to regret them one day.