Not Jumpin’ on the Leavin’ Wagon

Of all wagons I’m likely to jump on it’s not the Leaving Facebook Wagon – but let me know when you’re hitchin’ up the Sin Wagon & I’ll get my spurs.

A dear friend of mine recently decided to leave Facebook. As a final swan song, he wrote a fairly scathing blog post regarding the reasons for leaving the social media “time suck” known to millions as Facebook. Now, bear in mind, I love this guy, he’s fantastic & you should totally read his blog on the 52 People Experiment.

That background established, I will now launch into why I disagree with almost every part of his posting, and dare I say found some of it judgmental. I mean, because I enjoy Facebook does that make me a bottom feeder of shallow relationships? If you know me, you know that’s not the case.

Facebook has created fake relationships. Nothing of substance, a fast-food social system that fills you up, but is mostly comprised of crap that leaves you malnourished and unfulfilled.

I categorically disagree with the above statement. Last spring, I met Carol at a charity event. We bonded over music. We went home and began our Facebook friendship. We exchanged witty Facebook banter, because after all, we are both funny as hell. We decided to get together and hit it off further. Then we introduced the men…who are both musicians and they hit it off. Our daughters are the same age and Emmy now has a her first crush on Carol’s son. Without our initial “friendship” on Facebook, Carol would’ve been one of those people I had a blast with on the day but realistically, wouldn’t have seen until the following year at the next charity event.

Ask the stay at home mom who doesn’t have access to a vehicle during the day if Facebook is important. Ask the small business owner if Facebook is important. Ask the chairperson of a charity event if Facebook is important. Ask the local farmer’s market if Facebook is important.

There are so many users because it’s such a powerful and dynamic tool. Key word being tool. If you join Facebook & reconnect with old high school friends, don’t expect Facebook to be the vehicle to catch up with them. Yeah, you know they’re alive and have 2.5 kids now, but if you want to go deeper than that, then yeah, you do have to pick up the phone. But, begrudging Facebook for not leading to lasting relationships is not Facebook’s fault.

Personally, I don’t like the word “friend” on Facebook. Because yeah, I’m “friends” with some people I don’t know – I would prefer a spin on the word “network”, because that’s really what it is. Currently, I have 399 “friends”. Do I have deep meaningful relationships with all of them? Hell, do I know all of them? No. Have some of those connections lead to meaningful relationships? Hells yeah. I’ve become friends with some of Alec’s friends via Facebook – these would be people that I would’ve only seen at reunions and exchanged the “we should get together more often” pleasantries that annoy the crap out of me, but I’ve been able to get to know them, hang out with them and truly know them. Without the initial Facebook connection, those relationships would’ve never happened.

Can Facebook “friends” lead to unexpected greatness? You bet your tushie they can. As a chairperson for a charity event, it is the single, most effective tool I have to reach volunteers, participants and vendors. One posting and my information can be shared immediately with my network – oh yeah, and my friend’s networks just by them clicking “share”. That’s thousands of people getting the word almost instantly and effortlessly – try asking a friend to call 200 of her friends to ask them if they’d volunteer for a community charity. Not going to happen.

Can Facebook leave you craving a personal connection? Of course, but why should Facebook be meeting all of your social needs? Would I like to chat with friends on the phone? Yes. Would I like to call a friend and meet her for coffee? You bet. Hell, would I like to go out with Alec on occasion? Yes! Man, I’d LOVE to be able to call all of my girlfriends on their birthdays. Is that a realistic expectation for me to place on myself? Absolutely not. It’s about balance. Did you stop using the phone and meeting people when you joined Facebook?

I have a group page for my home business and a fan page for my business. But those pages are mine – I have to nurture them & encourage people to interact. I can’t set them up and leave them to be maintained by their members or they won’t be successful.

Every day my business grows – because of Facebook. Facebook saves me the cost of doing expensive mail outs to nearby neighbourhoods that would end up in a recycling bin. It saves me from walking door to door dropping off catalogs – because I can reach more people, more effectively on Facebook. So, I suppose I am a part of the “Sellmesomethingbook“. It makes me sad that because I advertise on Facebook that I’m lumped into a pile of unwanted solicitations that seem to clutter up the News Feed. I dare ask that if you see so many of these solicitations, why not ask people about them? On Facebook – it only takes a second. I advertise my business and the business of friends. Why? Because I see Facebook as a community and communities should support each other. I plug friend’s blogs because they’re awesome and I value what they have to say. I plug friend’s businesses because I know how much it means to them and what their goals are. I plug events because it’s for a cause that’s near to my heart.

I also have a fan page for my blog and you should totally become a fan.

Do weird things happen on Facebook? Sure. Occasionally, you’ll get a call from a 90210 star in the middle of dinner – because of Facebook (holla). Sometimes you’ll also find people being cruel to your friends. That’s what unfriending is for – I have no time for that shit. Do people post really personal things that you would rather not know? Sure, but ignore it. People are people and not caring about the mundane things they post, I find cold. Do I post boring status updates? Probably every day. Is it important that my Facebook universe know that I’m baking with Emmy? No. Is it a deep, meaningful, spiritually enlightened post? No. But it might be the highlight of my day. Just because something might seem insignificant to you doesn’t mean it is to the poster. Don’t be so quick to dismiss.

Don’t like the various games people play on Facebook? There’s an easy fix for that.

Expecting the vehicle of Facebook to lead to deep meaningful relationships is like going to a gym and getting frustrated that you’re still fat. You can’t tell me that a treadmill is ineffective while you’re standing next to it. Sure, you see the shiny buttons but have you even turned it on? I will admit that I’m sad that the 52 People group has been left without an administrator & little interaction to begin with. Without a leader, groups will fail – even in Facebook.

Facebook is the car, not the destination. If you can’t keep up with 600 friends, then don’t have 600 friends. Your network can be as large or small as you wish. Have to dig deep into the recesses of your brain to remember who this person is that’s friend requesting you? Then a polite reply of “thanks for finding me, but I keep my profile very private and restricted to family only. Please email me and maybe we can catch up over coffee some time”. Now, there’s a social experiment. I think you would’ve been surprised with the outcome if you stepped out of your Facebook comfort zone and used it as a tool to deeper relationships rather than a voyeur via News Feed – can’t judge a party from the couch.

This all comes from someone who can’t use her Blackberry to save her thumbs – you don’t need to be tech savvy to use Facebook and have it meet personal, business and superficial needs.

I love you dude, but somewhere there’s a baby crying a puddle of bathwater.

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