It surprises me that Facebook is so controversial. Truly. As a frequent poster, I get why some love it. I can’t say I do, but if it closed shop tomorrow I would miss the connectivity and connectedness I have with some friends because of it. What I don’t get is why some people are so vehemently against it.
Obviously, one cannot use it and hate it so much. And, certainly, there are a lot of people that don’t have an account and don’t care much about it (or do have one but rarely use it). That’s fine, to each his own. It is those who do not use it and dislike it so much that I don’t understand.
It seems to me you can, generally, break those people down into two subgroups: 1) those that had one but had a poor experience for one reason or another and have decided it is a waste (or worse) and 2) those that have never had an account.
Of those that have had a poor experience, think they ‘get it’ and see it as some sort of horrible site… why? Maybe it wasted too much or your time and you think that is true for everyone? Maybe you rarely were up there so don’t understand what the fuss is over?
Like most, I have many, many friends that use Facebook. I also have a few friends that either have accounts they rarely use or tried it for a bit and found it wasn’t for them. Most don’t give it much thought. One in particular looks for every opportunity to voice his displeasure. Frankly, while very intelligent, all the complaints are the same rehash of complaints that I’ve heard since it first popped its head out of the college webhole. Too many people pass along the same rhetoric, frequently the same cliches that “It wastes everyone’s time. No one says anything important. People posting pictures of food, and statuses telling everyone they are going to the dentist. We need real communication, not everyone talking about themselves and their boring day.”
If I may, I’ll address that here.
Yes, I am sure it wastes some time. It also saves quite a bit. The time I spend on Facebook has had to come from somewhere, but for me it was time spent watching TV, etc. I have planned get-togethers that would have been far more time consuming to plan without it. My 30th high school reunion was planned primarily over Facebook (and was much better for it). What used to be hunting down email addresses or phone numbers, calling and writing people individually, getting responses and coordinating the group, informing everyone periodically of the status of the event, … all are easily planned now. One post contacting everyone. Everyone sees the response. It becomes a group discussion and ideas and problems are quickly discussed, efficiently. I am more social because of it and save a lot of time I used to spend organizing things. As for it not being ‘real’ communication, it has helped me stay in touch with people and has allowed me to see people more regularly face-to-face. And when we do see each other or talk on the phone, I know what they have been doing and we have things to discuss rather than spend time with the “so-what-have-you-been-up-to?” pleasantries. I’m not sending out pictures and emails as I once did, calling people on the phone as much. My family and friends can see the photos I post whenever they want and it fits in their schedule, and give me feedback and comments (as I do to / for them). I’m far more connected to friends in a way it was impossible to be prior. Whereas before I would try to get in a phone call a month with 20 or so people, unable to reach much more than that regularly, I now am regularly connected to twice that number, sharing more, and on a daily basis, too.
Do people say unimportant things? Yes. But what is unimportant to one may not be to someone else. Have I put up food photos? Yup, lots. Have I mentioned I was at the dentist? Yes. Do most care? No. But I don’t feel like every word I say has to be earth shattering, on Facebook, the phone, or in person, either. On those phone calls, I still would hear that someone had been to the dentist or would hear about a great restaurant I should try. Why should it be any different with Facebook postings? I see it similarly as if I were with my friends and one mentioned going to the dentist that day. Not every post need be about world politics or the economy. It is about being social, not solving a crises. That said, I have had debates and serious conversations with friends, on my page and theirs, too. I’ve asked for and received, thoughts on current events and voter initiatives. We’ve discussed parenting issues and political candidates. For those on Facebook that see no interesting posts, it may not be that Facebook isn’t interesting… it may be that their friends aren’t. For every food picture that I have posted and had a friend say “Oh God, another food post?”, I have had five friends ask me about the dish, if I’d recommend it, tell me to start a food blog, ask me for a restaurant recommendation… Skip over what doesn’t appeal, converse on what does. It shouldn’t be the same for everyone.
The more confusing group, to me, are the ones that don’t use it, haven’t used it, yet vehemently dislike it. I’m not sure if they are afraid of it, don’t like change, or thought it wouldn’t catch on and are still hoping it fails so they can be right. Most in that group will tell you they understand it, even as they admit they never used it. They understand what it is, but can never understand how it changes communication. They have read enough about it, or heard enough about it to form an opinion on it but since it is not one based on real experience, just a collective of other’s negative opinions, it carries little weight. They feel, usually, since they are fine without it and so they they shouldn’t add it to the mix, and since it clearly isn’t necessary then anyone who has is wasting time. If they don’t need it, no one does. Well, no one ‘needs’ it. No one ‘needed’ a personal phone or anything other than a party line for emergencies yet we all have them on our hip now. Things change as people find uses for things, no? To me, one has to use Facebook, frequently, for a while to even see how it can change things for the better. You have to have an account, have enough contacts you want to stay in touch with. Look at it daily to see what they are up to, post frequently enough that your friends and family get to know what you are up to, and continue doing that to see if any relationships improve. Initially it is a waste. It is an extra ‘task’ with no immediate benefits. The benefits happen over time. It is a medium for establishing and maintaining contact and it does so, to a lot of people, efficiently and easily and time effectively. That doesn’t happen over night, however. I initially had no interest. I got on because my daughter wanted a page and I wanted to see what the site was about and monitor her activity until I was sure it was ‘safe’. Not using it much, it didn’t change anything. It was a chore I added to my routine, initially. Then, as I went up more, I found friends I’d lost contact with. Had discussions with intelligent people about music. Found out about bands playing in the area and got to know the musicians better. Saw more friends and family get accounts and got better in touch with them…
Me? I’ve discussed what I like about Facebook within this post as I’ve defended it against the criticisms. But I’ll just say that, by and large, I see it as a communication tool. Like the phone, or email, or texting. A better one will likely come along and I’ll try that one out then. It is a way to interact with people in addition to the face-to-face meetings and phone calls, not instead of them. It is a way to stay in touch and share ideas that can’t be done in most other forums. I can share pictures of my trips, see the pictures of other’s families and vacations… I can forward interesting articles and links as well as read interesting articles recommended by others… I can join in forums and get information on subjects I need more info ration on. Are there other ways of doing all that? Sure. I could plan more face-to-face get-togethers, hoping everyone was free that night. I could send out group mailings, or make 10 phone calls a night to pass information on to those friends that I feel might like it and I could hope they all have the time to do the same for me. This does it more efficiently.
I have no stock in Facebook. I’m not selling it or working for them. But I do defend it as I see those that complain about it as not understanding it, even as they say / feel that they do. Like the phone, some use it a lot and some do not. There is no ‘correct’ amount of time for it. While many in my grandparent’s used to complain about the phone in the 1930s, saying it was going to ruin written communication and face-to-face meetings, it helped bring people together and helped people stay in touch. I see the nay-sayers similarly.