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Do people just not ‘get’ Facebook?

22 June 2011 2 Comments

Every so often I hear someone criticize Facebook as a place where people waste time and check out drunk photos of strangers.

Well, sure, it can be that.

But it can also be a lot more. It’s all in what you make of it. Kind of like life.

Life can be a frivolous pursuit, filled with drunken nights and lazy days. And that’s okay, if that’s all you’re looking for.

But life can also be a dynamic, rich experience, where you interact with interesting people and build great relationships.

For some reason, many people don’t understand that you can do all of these things on Facebook too.

I’ve got hilarious friends, brilliant friends, crazy friends and silly friends. (And quite a few drunk ones as well).

Together, through Facebook, they all crowd-source the Internet for me, posting content and adding their own spin to all of it. How cool is that?

I get entertained by some, informed by others, challenged by quite a few and inspired by many.

And I’ve never even met many of these people.

Some wonder how you can be friends with someone you’ve never spent time with in person. Well, who said that you have to be face-to-face with someone to learn from them or laugh with them?

Facebook allows us new ways to interact. It also allows us to expand our interactions with those we do know in the ‘real world’. And it can also help us find people with common interests that can ultimately develop into flourishing friendships outside of Facebook.

A few weeks back, I wrote about how Facebook can also be a great networking tool. And I really do believe that. But some people found the notion a bit strange, as if Facebook operated on some separate plane from their ‘real’ lives.

Okay—if that’s how you want to play it.

But why? Why wouldn’t you open yourself up to all of the possibilities that Facebook can provide? Sure, you could push your ‘professional’ self into a neat little LinkedIn box or feed it through the more anonymous and safe Twitter. Both of those sites offer some great ways to stay connected.

But if that’s all you do, I firmly believe you are missing out.

There is no other site out there that provides such a robust, complete picture of who you really are—if you’re open to it. Some people will criticize Facebook, saying that most people only put forward their ‘best’ selves in their profiles. Perhaps. But those who fully utilize Facebook know that your profile is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of user experience. The real impact happens in the content—postings, pics, comments, etc.

And since when is putting your best self forward a bad thing? Isn’t that pretty much how you operate in the real world? Aren’t you constantly striving to show a better version of yourself to those around you? It’s called self-improvement and it’s something we should all be doing, constantly.

If you decide to create an inauthentic persona on Facebook, then chances are you are inauthentic as well. And people will see right through your act.

If you choose to be more open, then you are probably a more open person in general. And you probably have a more interesting life as a result.

The sooner people stop looking at Facebook as a some kind of digital toy and start seeing it as a part of our lives, the better. For all of its faults (privacy concerns, technical glitches, etc.), Facebook is a pretty awesome thing if you stop to think about it.

It would appear, however, that a lot of people don’t stop to think about it.

- TJ Bennett

2 Comments »

  • Allison Baxley said:

    Hi TJ,

    I read this article and think about how I actually know you. First I stalked you on Linkedin when I was job hunting. Then we became Facebook friends. Then we interviewed for a freelance gig together. And since then our only interaction has been through Facebook, although I think we would both agree that we are good acquaintances. People who have met in person one time and have never worked together or even talked on the phone. I have several industry acquaintances that I met in this very same way. And without Facebook, I would not be able to call them such. They would just be people I stalked on Linkedin and maybe sent some emails to. It is a great networking tool, but more than that you get to enjoy the things that your “friends” enjoy and learn about them in a way like never before.

    In addition to networking, Facebook connects people. Yesterday, I received and accepted an invitation from a cousin who I was very close with growing up but had not seen or spoken to in 14 years. We chatted, caught up and now I am connected to several other cousins from that side of the family who I thought I may never speak to again. It’s incredible and I am so thankful for the power that Facebook has had and the things it has allowed me to do.

    Great article!

    - Allison

  • TJ said:

    Thanks Allison! I really appreciate all of the comments. It’s cool to hear about how you reconnected with your cousins, that’s awesome.

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