I recently watched a video promoting everyone to stop using Facebook. You can view it at the link provided here:
He makes some pretty good points concerning the changes Facebook creates in language (ROFL!), privacy, and human relationships. That being said I don’t have any intention of closing my account outright, but this video got me questioning why I even use Facebook in the first place.
When I first heard about social media a few years back the only one I heard about was Myspace, and I didn’t really get it. I didn’t know what the purpose was to have a Myspace outside of the fact that it was a way to have webspace for whatever you wanted. I gave in right before going to college and opened an account, but found it to be kinda pointless. I used their blog feature the most, but I could have just as easily bought a blank diary and started writing my thoughts down in there considering how few replies and responses I was getting.
When Facebook showed up it was different. EVERYONE was on Facebook before me, and everyone kept asking me why I didn’t have an account. Looking back on the first few days of having facebook around I thought it was kind of fun, but that was it. It was a place to upload drunk pictures, check out cute girls, and waste time on. I guess it hasn’t really changed since then! As far as connecting with people in my life I didn’t need it. I talked to everyone that I needed to in my day to day and I didn’t need to message people, poke them, or get updates on what they were doing nonstop.
Flash forward a couple years after I was on Survivor and things really changed as far as the way I used Facebook. I had friends now that lived in Los Angeles, New York, and all over the U.S. Facebook also connected me with a lot of fans of Survivor which I thought was really cool. It brought a lot of things together and connected them in a simple and meaningful way. Facebook, at least for me, became a powerful tool in which I could connect with friends and aquaintences that I did’t see all the time because of physical distances and busy schedules.
More recently I had been able to use it in a really productive way which lead to new opportunities. I didn’t know a soul in South Africa until I got a message or two from some Cape Towners who had seen me on Survivor. After communicating through Facebook and email I set up plans to meet them, and the huge distance between “facebook friends” and actual friends was bridged. That’s something I think more people should be doing on Facebook, and one of the possible goals of the site. Instead of sitting alone on your computer looking at other people, you should use this incredible tool to meet other people and promote actual relationships offline.
A lot of people are concerned with privacy issues and having all their information out there for anyone to see, but this ship has sailed a long time ago for me. Once I was on CBS my privacy was blown to bits anyways, and I don’t have too many problems with that. I don’t have any need to be private about what I am doing and I have yet to see any terrible results from it (I got a few late night phone calls from an obsessed fan who somehow found my phone number, and on another occasion I recieved some disturbing fan-mail at my parent’s home address).
The one thing I will say is that Facebook does create an air of superficiality when it comes to social interactions. I looked over my friends list and realized there are a ton, probably close to 3,000 people, in my friends list that I have never actually met before. In regards to this it is important to know the difference between real relationships and imagined ones. I know that I am not my profile, but I fear that a great deal of people have yet to come to this conclusion. Just as the Erik you watch on television is not the Erik you will meet in real life, the same goes for the internet.
I love talking with friends, family, fans, and even complete strangers through Facebook. I don’t know what I would do without it when it comes to organizing get-togethers, parties, and charity events! That being said, it is not a replacement for actual human interaction. I have a lot of really cool people in my life and some of them are avidly against having a digital self, which is really respectable. I have just found it to fit my needs, so I think I will hang on to my account for a while.