I discovered Facebook in August 2007. I was at the University of Connecticut for a forum organized by the UNESCO Chair and Institute of Comparative Human Rights, and while discussing next steps one of the facilitators asked, “You all have Facebook, right?” Within a couple of days I was “poking” and picking “food fights” with friends (yes, kids, those were Facebook’s sophisticated features back then).
So yeah, it’s been more than eight years, and I suppose it’s time for me to evaluate what’s been great and not so great about Facebook as far as my experience (as well as my awareness of others’ experiences) is concerned. Let’s see…
- The most obvious benefit of Facebook is how it has allowed me to connect and/or reconnect with people, from old classmates and colleagues to my family overseas.
- Facebook has been a platform for me to share about my faith and to share material (Word, sermons, insights) that might bless others.
- My family has used Facebook for business. It’s a great advertising platform!
- I and many people and organizations I know have found Facebook extremely helpful in coordinating efforts, asking and receiving assistance and disseminating information for emergencies, disaster relief operations, community projects, etc.
- Facebook messaging! I have several ongoing, 24/7 threads with groups of friends and family members. It’s like we’re all just together all the time, chattering away, no matter how far apart we actually are. I’ve also found FB calls very reliable, even more so than Viber and Skype, when I’m overseas and connecting with the hubby.
- The Newsfeed can be like a black hole: easy to get sucked into, virtually impossible to get out of, ever.
- In view of #1, Facebook has to be one of the most sophisticated and effective time wasters of all time.
- Stil about Newsfeed: I don’t mind much the selfies, but Oh, the rants! The dirty linen! The passive-aggressive posts!!! Good thing there’s now a simple solution to turn off the negativity without “unfriend-ing.” Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg, for the “Unfollow” option!
- The stories of Facebook stalking and philandering that I’ve heard are both sad and alarming. Tsk.
- I know of young people who have been exposed, by being on Facebook, to dangerous elements (not to mention lots of horrid content) that could lure and harm them.
Some time ago I resolved to limit my Facebook use to half an hour a day. Some days I’m successful, other days the black hole gets me. Then today I saw this prompt from Daily (W)rite, which is making me rethink my handling of this platform:
What role does social media play in your life? What social media are you part of? What needs does it fulfill? Do you primarily interact with your friends online or offline? Do you think you need a social media detox?
You know how a window can work two ways for a person inside a house — as a means for her to see the world outside, and as a means for her to be seen, at least partly, or insomuch as she would want to be seen? It’s a way to connect with those outside, minus the risk (and the joy) of actually going out there. One can hold up a sign there with a message, in hopes that those passing by will see it. Or a person can call out, in hopes that someone will hear and respond. There may be huge chunks of time, though, that a person simply spends sitting by a window, watching the world pass her by. I think this is the role that Facebook plays for most people.
I am looking now at my lists above of The Good and The Bad about Facebook, and hoping that I will choose more to get out the door and to be more purposeful in using this platform as my means to connect to others only when truly necessary, and only as a last resort. Then maybe even half an hour a day would be too much.