I was not an early adopter of social media.
I didn’t have a MySpace until Facebook was already a thing. My MySpace account was under the name of my Misanthropic Internet Doppleganger, Georgette Magillacuddy. If we were friends in college, you might’ve heard me tell people (men) that was my name at bars.
I thought social media was stupid and time-consuming and–like Television–threatened to rob me of all of my proper thinking muscles if I let it.
My friend Sharon talked me into getting a Facebook. She also showed me Project Runway. I was on board with Project Runway immediately.
And, yes. I am aware of the way in which Facebook is collecting information about me in order to be able to sell demographic info to companies who will try to sell things to me, but frankly, I’d prefer smart marketing than stupid marketing. I do not like watching ads about sports equipment or hearing aids. If I liked sports or was hard of hearing, I would. Sure, the way in which it’s not a terribly far leap between April the demographic and April the person is a touch scary. But all new developments in technology are a touch scary.
I still think Facebook could rob me of my thinking muscles. But I figured out how to block users and apps, so now, If somebody posts only sentimental quotations and quips about Christ, I say, “Please, Facebook. Don’t show me any more of that.” I also ask it not to show me stuff from Farmville or Sims or any of the games.
Facebook can be a benevolent master.
It can also be a sneaky time-suck.
But as with every other guilty (and lately gleeful) pleasure, we have to exercise self-control. I have a policy where I shut Facebook down after every time I check in on it. I used to let it up all the time. But whenever I do that, I get nothing done.
As recently as eighteen months ago, I still professed to being confused about Facebook. I remember being kind of stymied when one of the smartest people I know, my friend, mentor, and fellow-freelancer, Katney B., said, “I totally get it, and I love it.”
But first when I sold cell phones, and then when I went full time as a freelancer, and it occurred to me that Facebook could be my ally.
Ah ha! A practical use for Facebook. Potential generation of capital. And so I began to tinker in earnest, and without guilt. That bit was huge for me. I have to give myself permission to do things that are enjoyable, or things that I view as unproductive.
And in so doing, I started to get it. I could check in on people about whom I am curious, but have no need or desire to spend hours in conversation with. People for whose success I am hopeful. And people whose work I admire. And if I am feeling particularly nosy, I can know what the weather is like where they are, and I know if they switch jobs or cities or S.O.s.
And in the last few months or year, I’ve re-connected with some people in my past who I missed! Two of my dearest friends ever and I now swap emails outside of Facebook. Child and I made a sweet visit to NYC via a Facebook connection with a friend from long ago.
Since I’ve been blogging and building myself a business of my thinking and writing muscles, I’ve loved the way Facebook allows me to show my work to 541 of the people with whom I’ve become acquainted along the way, personally, casually, professionally. It’s even safe to be friends with ex lovers.
I have Facebook friends who are fellow writers, authors I admire, literary journals. And in a couple of instances, the literary journals have reminded me to submit to them. Now I belong to the group Submission Bombers. If you’re a writer, check it out.
People who live where I do invite me to cool stuff. People who have kids post pictures, so they don’t have to email them to me. I appreciate that.
And while it’s utterly practically meaningless to the business, I enjoy being able to go click the big thumbs up on businesses I live near, or whose owners I know, or places I’ve been that are cool. I like that I can categorize myself as “person who likes The Nightmare Before Christmas or Mad Men,” even if it does mean that Facebook will tell other people to sell me 60s vintage shoes or vaguely creepy stop-motion movies.
And this is kind of weird, but I get a little competitive about the number of friends I have. I view it as an absurd measure of success, especially since the second most traffic on my blog is drummed up through facebook.
So what about you? What do you love about facebook? Or do you hate it?