I used to hate Facebook.
Well, first I loved it. Those first few months after I created an account were magical, at least from a social media perspective.
I re-connected with people who I thought I would never see again, let alone talk to. They were friends I grew up with, went to school with, worked with.
It became a convenient way to stay in touch without having to see them in person, which was nice, because quite a few of them lived in other states.
Facebook was the ideal solution for personal interaction in a world where we spend a lot of time not interacting with people. If you went a few weeks or months without seeing a friend, you could log into Facebook and immediately be brought up-to-date on what was happening in their life.
It was nice. It was easy.
But somewhere along the way, something changed, and the fact that all of this was so easy was probably the reason.
Facebook’s tentacles began to spread beyond its digital roots. I found myself having more and more conversations with people about what they had read on Facebook, as opposed to what they were actually doing.
“Did you see what so-and-so posted yesterday?” I would hear.
“I haven’t seen her house, but I saw the pictures posted on Facebook” others would say.
This tool that enabled us to stay in touch was now becoming the de facto way of staying in touch, and there was something very, very wrong about that.
So, in true blogger fashion, I started writing about Facebook. A lot.
And when I got fed up — I don’t remember the straw that broke the camel’s back — I deleted my account. And, again, in true blogger fashion, I wrote about why I deleted my Facebook account.
For four months, I was fine. Proud, even. I had managed to laugh in the face of the world’s largest social networking service.
One billion people could be wrong.
When I read about users complaining about a new site design or algorithm change, I smiled smugly to myself, secure in the fact that I had stuck it to the authority and didn’t have to waste my time worrying about trivial matters.
I was free and clear of all of that manufactured drama. I could now focus on the important matters in life.
But then it struck me that conversing with those long-lost friends and relatives was important.
I hear a lot of people talk about how they need their social networks to provide them some value in their life in order to keep coming back.
Facebook, at face value, seems to provide minimal value.
But, at least for me, when I started looking at it as an ongoing conversation among people who I know in real life (and a conversation where I don’t have to be professional 100 percent of the time) that was where I found the value.
Not real, professional value, mind you. But social value. A way to keep in touch with people who I can’t keep in touch regularly, for whatever reason. Or my friends, who I don’t see regularly because of, well, life.
As for those who complain? You’re going to encounter them anyway, regardless of whether or not they’re on your computer screen or sitting across from you at the dinner table.
Facebook is rightfully a target of scorn occasionally, but it does have some value, so I’m just going to use it, okay?