One day, yesterday, whilst skimming along on Facebook I came across an astute comment. It was by a fabulous and funny blogger I follow. She wrote, “I really need to scroll through Facebook before I post anything.”
This got me thinking. If you are somewhat active on Facebook you realize how much people share, over-share, and visit there. It’s where another world simultaneously exists. And after Zuckerberg went out and bought Instagram, that world comes with pictures too.
I used to be very protective of who I ‘friended’ on Facebook. I screened even some of my high school friends, people I’d gone to school with for my super-duper formative years. I wasn’t friends with all of them but that’s what Facebook was for. You could spy and think “I told you so” after 20 years. So I added them.
Then, time passed. Reliving high school and counting how many babies people had got boring.
Next I friended people I knew through running, parents of my kids’ friends, friends in the same social circles. It grew to include acquaintances and eventually people in my blogging community. I realized I could use it as another way to connect to people. Again, as is the joy of social media, there was no obligation to show up, dress up, or arrive on time.
To me, Facebook is the real-time feed of our lives. If you have actively contributing friends a week’s worth of living is a lot. It doesn’t really matter whether you read all of your news feed; you probably won’t miss a life-changing opportunity. But if you want to know more about the people who will share more, it’s there.
As I write this, I pause to go check my news feed again. It’s like a virtual social scene: you can enjoy the conversations, delve into them more if you want to, and catch up on the latest news/events/weather. You can have this but don’t have to feel like the girl nursing a warm drink at the bar because you said you’d try be social for an hour and you don’t drink. You can get to know people without having the non-verbal assessment. It’s amazing how many layers a person will reveal in their comments, or in what they choose to share.
Now, after 10 years, Facebook has become a kind of staple of communication in social media. We blog about what affects us, how we live our lives, what is important to us, what is personal. We tweet about what we have blogged about: attention-grabbing headlines and highlights of our thoughts. But a lot of what we share starts on Facebook, where the conversation and the anecdotes play.
Sometimes I question myself: Am I really benefiting from this stream of information from people I rarely (or never) see in person? Does it add value to my life, even as entertainment? But whatever the answer, I still have a choice on if, when, and how much I take part.
The whole thing can feel overwhelming and a little like a cul-de-sac where you are never sure when, or how, to exit. There are less boundaries to our privacy when everyone and their dogg can poke at anyone who has a Facebook profile (active or not).
Still, I have chosen to carry on. Social media is a place I’m continually exploring with some hesitation. I blog and my blog moved to Twitter and I’ve now created a new page on Facebook. Of course I want to have people read what I write and follow me in all the mediums I have put an effort into presenting. I like knowing more about the people I interact with and who they are. It has made my communication with others seem closer and more personality-driven, and not just re-posts and updates. While I don’t agree with all of what Facebook has come to stand for and represent, I still use it, because my friends are there.
P.S. Visit me on Facebook.
PPS No friends were deleted before or after the writing of this post.