Buyer Be-Aware Monday: Impressions of Facebook

It’s been four weeks now since I jumped aboard the Facebook  bandwagon. I had hesitated for so long to do so, fearing I’d set up my account, log in…and you’d never hear from me again (well, except via Facebook, haha!).

Perhaps I should call today’s post a Consumer Alert – after all, when you visit Facebook and participate in activities like “writing on walls”, leaving “like” affirmations, and sending out friend requests, you aren’t really buying a product. However, in being part of the Facebook community, you are supporting a major online industry, so that is where the “buying” aspect is relevant.

Below, then: some of my reflections, likes and dislikes of Facebook…

1. The media have hyped Facebook and made it greater than it really is.  Prior to joining Facebook, I had the impression that everyone who was anyone was on Facebook. Thanks to articles in newspapers, mentions on blogs, visibility on TV, Facebook is depicted as the place where the cool kids hang. If you’re not on Facebook, you’re definitely not with the “in crowd,” if you believe what you see and hear. Facebook is fun, Facebook is interesting, Facebook is helpful with keeping in touch with people. Facebook has NOT changed my life or completely rocked my world. My life is no better or no worse because of Facebook.

2. Facebook is NOT a life-sucking force. This was always my primary defense when asked why I wasn’t on Facebook. I already spend a lot of time on my computer, reading blogs and sending emails. Have I increased my daily computer time because of Facebook? I would respond with, “minimally.” I actually find I am on Twitter less than BF (Before Facebook). Now, I tend to follow Twitter for celebrity tweets and Facebook for news about people I really know.

3. Facebook is like hosting a party with all of your friends present. Most party guestlists are made up of people from one circle of your life: your family, your work colleagues, your running friends, your high school chums, your neighbours. Well, Facebook is like picking and choosing some friends from each of your social groups, then throwing them in a room all together. One stop socializing, customized by your preference in who you want to hang out with!

4. Facebook is efficient. Like Twitter, you write one sentence statements or give a couple of words response to a friend’s piece of news. The lazy-Facebookers’ easiest response is just click the “thumbs up” symbol to show you like what someone has shared. Because nothing is earth-shatteringly in-depth, you can easily multi-task while Facebooking. So far, I have blogged, baked, watched TV, knit, chatted on the phone…all while simultaneously being on Facebook. And just like emailing or texting, (and unlike phone calls), you participate in the Facebook community when it suits you.

5. The technology blows my mind. As you know, I’ve been the first to admit that I’m no techie. But seriously, Facebook wow-ed me with what it can do, right from the moment I created my “page.” After clicking enter, Facebook gave me a huge list of “people I may know” and want to befriend on Facebook. It culled this list from my gmail account (I think?!). Then, within the hour, I had a friend request sent to me by someone I have not been in touch with for at least three years! How did she find out so fast that I was now on Facebook?! I have no clue as to how all this works; I am simply in awe of the technologisized (word?!) world in which we live.

6. I dislike the set-up of Facebook. Your Facebook home page is what is called the “Newsfeed.” SIL Ana has patiently explained this to me several times already – I think I finally get it (maybe!). The Newsfeed is like the front page of a newspaper (how archaic an item!): it shows you the latest postings from your friends. To my way of thinking, though, the Newsfeed is a hodge-podge. I’ve got people sharing what’s up, their friends giving the thumbs up, FYI’s on updated profile photos…I’d prefer more itemized listings. My second peeve is that I find it awkward to pull up the listing of all my friends. I have to click through several screens to find an alphabetic listing of all my friends (almost at 50 now!) The Facebook app on my Blackberry is much more user-friendly to the way MY brain likes to receive information, but the Blackberry is not as quick or as all-encompassing as going online on my own computer.

7. Too Much Information: I’ve already had to “defriend” somebody. I felt really eesh about doing this – I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. But allll this person posted was about the games she participated in, and she provided updates about seventeen times a day. Sorry, but that’s excessive sharing – to my mind – about nothing.

8. Virtual mail, 24/7. One of my favourite parts of Christmas is receiving Holiday Cards. I love going to the mailslot every day in December and expectantly opening the door to see who sent us a Christmas card today! Facebook gives me that same gleeful feeling. I love when I have a new friend request, when someone has written on my wall, or when a friend has responded to a comment. These little surprises and points of contact are warm fuzzies in my day.

9. Facebook gave me an A-Ha Moment. I have loved becoming Facebook buddies with old friends from public school. I went to school from kindergarten through Grade 8 with a set of friends. Then I went off to a different high school, and lost touch with all of these people (except BFF Debbie, and we only re-friended each other about 12 years ago). Thanks to Facebook, I am now reacquainted with many of these childhood mates. To receive friend requests from childhood school chums really touched me. I realize that some people try to acquire as many Facebook friends as possible (a status thing), and could care two figs about you, but that’s not the vibe I have gotten. These people have no clue as to what I have or have not accomplished in the past 25+ years. They don’t care how many marathons I’ve run, how I live, what I do, where I work; they’re in touch because they liked who I was as a person, way back when. And I feel the same way about them. It’s a nice reminder that it’s who you are at your core that counts, not what you do.

To conclude! Do I recommend joining Facebook? Yes. The positives far outweigh the negatives, and the socializing capabilities astound. As with anything, set your own parameters of security and time commitment, then chat away! Just don’t be shocked when you look up and it’s midnight!

And that, my friends, will conclude our series of Buyer Be-Aware Mondays! We’ll see what themes ‘n variations my brain wants to attack next! (Speaking of attacking, I’ve been zealously baking and reading of late; check out the appropriate Kiki Project pages in order to catch up!)

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