Why I love Facebook. Usually.
I love Facebook. I was an early adopter, pretty much as soon as they opened it up to regular people without an .edu email address back in 2007. I’d been eyeing the platform even before that. I saw it’s potential as a tool to keep up with the people I cared about and today, six years later, that’s still what I love.
Yes, I understand that companies are mining my likes and tags for advertising. I don’t have a problem with that. When I buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks, part of my money goes to advertising and I don’t have a problem with that, either. Advertising doesn’t drive my choices, good products do. So if I say “Loved my tasty Carmel Macchiato this morning on my way to work.” and Starbucks uses that to sell them to other people, ok then.
I’ve never understood the various privacy crisis’s that get posted all over regularly. I set all my posts and activities to “Friends Only” when I signed up, and I’ve never had to change it. I don’t post for the public and “friends of friends” don’t get to see my stuff. When I sign up for a service that wants to connect with Facebook, I consider if it’s something I’d like a record of and almost always set the toggle to “Only Me”. This way, if a service I use tries to post on FB without my knowledge, no one else can see it and when I notice, I can simply delete it.
Sometimes, I allow other apps to post for me - if it shares something about me that I want you to know, I’ll let it go. Spotify, Runkeeper, Tumblr. I enjoy reading what you post on them, so I’m happy to join the conversation. I’ve discovered many new artists that I enjoy by seeing what my friends are listening to. I am constantly shamed into running when I see Jeanne’s “Map My Run” posts. If someone posting from an app that drives me crazy, a simple click removes it, and a hover/unsubscribe (from the app, not the person) ensures I never see it again. I also only “friend” people who are actually friends. I discard friend requests from aquaintances all the time! If you aren’t someone I would go out to coffee with, you aren’t seeing this! People who freak out are the ones who a) haven’t spent the time to understand how it works or b) have everything set to public. I’m neither, and you shouldn’t be either.
Lately, the common complaint has been that it’s a medium for “self-promotion”, and how that’s arrogant and somehow a part of something that’s wrong with our culture. I vehemently disagree on that one. I have friends from all over the world, thanks to my penchant for moving & my involvement in gaming. I have far-flung family. And I would never be able to keep these relationships without Facebook. I LOVE knowing that Jan & Nathan bought a bar in Oregon and that Jen broke her leg at Tahoe and that Sam started a new church in Washington and that Justin is doing an art thing in Tulsa. I adore the constant music references from my Jef in San Antonio and pictures of Glenda’s grand baby in Houston or which golf course my Dad played today. My character is strengthened and challenged by having reasonable, intelligent debates with people I respect on issues we don’t agree on. Gun control, theology, poverty & social services, parenting styles - I get to have great discussions about these things with others who are passionate and thoughtful without them devolving into name calling. Where else in the public sphere do you get to do that? These are all things that I would miss without Facebook.
I don’t look at any of these things as self-promotions. These lovely people are simply putting themselves out there to participate in the human conversation, as am I. It brings us together. My frustration with “customer service” is eased when I share it and hear similar stories from others. My joy is increased when I cheer for my son online and others chime in.
This did not happen by accident. I am ruthless about culling people out of my feed who don’t contribute to the conversation. If the only time you post is to promote your business/album/bible verse of the day, then you aren’t on my list. Sorry. I’m not saying that’s wrong, not at all. But that’s not how I choose to use Facebook, so I’ve organized it that way.
If all you see is promotion and product endorsements and games, then you ought to spend a little time tweaking things to make it more of a joy and less of an irritation. And please, stop telling me that’s it’s awful. If it’s awful for you, it’s your fault. Either fix it, or stop using it.