Facebook is still only 12 years young and there are still plenty of people that remember LBF – Life Before Facebook. And even if Facebook usage is waning amongst millennials and Gen Z’ers (younger than Millennials), I would not bet against Facebook being the long-term most popular default Social Media application. This is because by far Facebook is more established than any other social network and therefor is able to offer offer a lens of your life.
When I was growing up I recall several instances of being involved with the creation of a time capsule. The time capsule would be “buried” for eventual unearthing at some point in the far future (which actually wasn’t that far). Clearly time capsules were invented to provide a lens into people’s lives at a particular place and time. There were no real negatives other than the fight in deciding what to put into the time capsule. (James Brown or Elvis?)
But with Facebook, (and the internet in general) there is no longer a need for time capsules as photos, memories, and events are captured and saved for FB users automatically.
When it comes to anything having to do with Facebook, without question there are positives and negatives. Since worrying about EVERYTHING is standard operating procedure today, let’s start with the negative.
Loss of privacy. One can take all the pains to keep data sharing private on Facebook, and still be surprised at what gets shared and how much Facebook wants to ‘help’ you get more out of the social network. So helpful, yet so intrusive and even creepy in terms of the ramifications of what ends up being social engineering as much as social networking. Deep down you know this and try to make excuses for why it does not bother you even more.
There are more that can be added to the list. But that’s a big one.
Things both positive AND negative about Facebook.
#1– Learning things about people you thought you knew that surprise and disturb you. I am actually not certain if this is a good or bad thing. But mostly it makes me sad when I see something on Facebook that makes me then think differently about someone I have known for some time – or thought I knew.
#2– Being behaviorally targeted. Again it’s something that can be both good and bad. On the good side I don’t get served with as many irrelevant stories, offers, etc. I am one to avoid clicking on articles and things both that I think I would like or not like since I do not want to add to my profile and further limit what Facebook algorithms will show me based on what I click.
The positive in my opinion outweighs the negative. In my ‘circle’ of Facebook friends which number in the hundreds (not thousands), there are many that I have known for a long time but not seen in decades. In many cases Facebook has facilitated an easy path to a somewhat renewed Facebook friendship. You know what I mean, the person that you correspond with occasionally but have not seen in ages but might sometime. With life events being posted, photos of family relatives, children, parents, and pets (so many photos of people’s pets) through these photos and posts you get a little sense of how someone’s life might be going – well at least as it pertains to what they are willing to share. Some people over-share on Facebook. I know. Perhaps you have seen that yourself.
My 87 year-old mother-in-law is somewhat new to Facebook. She’s pretty much the ultimate Facebook voyeur never posting anything, never commenting. She’s just looking at and enjoying photos of her family (and now great grand-children) that has spread far and wide across the map. We all love that she can do that and she’s in touch to a degree that has never before been possible. BIG positive.
Facebook is far from perfect. But in providing a lens of your life there’s tremendous utility Facebook provides for more than 2.5 billion people are connected in ways impossible a mere fifteen years ago.
Facebook is not the only lens of your life but for now and the near future it’s the one that counts for the most people. Even if you choose to ignore Facebook (and I guarantee your life will be no less fulfilling in so doing), so many other people are impacted it has an effect on their behavior and yours AND the added bonus is that you have a lot more time on your hands than Facebook users do.
What do you think? Is FB a lens to your life or not?