Going by the number of people who pooh-pooh, write off or just plain criticise Facebook, and by the vehemence with which they do it, I’m surprised that they aren’t calling it the F-word.
I feel old and in the way. Seen it all before. In fact, I’ve seen it so many times that I’m tempted to start asking the ugly question:
Have you actually spent any time using it?
You’d be amazed at the responses you get.
People love to pontificate about phenomena like Facebook without ever having used it “in anger”. Reminds me of a story my Physics teacher used to tell, about the way the Greeks apparently argued about things like stones and feathers and free fall. A stone fell quickly, a feather fell slowly. If you tied a stone to a feather, would the resulting mess fall faster than the stone (because the combination was heavier) or more slowly (because the feather “slowed down” the stone). The point he was trying to make was that they kept debating the issue without ever actually trying it out. The Romans, on the other hand, just climbed up a tall building and watched what happened. Or so the story goes.
This post isn’t really about Facebook, but then again maybe it is. Maybe we can learn something from looking at the types of people who object to Facebook. Here’s my light-hearted list:
Hrrumph Steak: This is the type of person who goes red in the face when you ask him whether he’s actually used Facebook at all, and remains embarrassedly silent. Dead meat in more ways than one.
Billy Slow-Mates: This guy is actually nothing more than a shy late adopter, waiting to see what his friends do. In the meantime he hopes he keeps his street cred by claiming complete ignorance. Usually a true fanatic once converted.
IM I Said: This is the guy who’s taken this long to discover instant messaging and texting, and doesn’t feel he needs another mode of communication. Often seen buying LaserDiscs and, occasionally, Betamax tapes.
The Jobcentred: The sort of guy who thinks you’re slacking on the job if you talked about the cricket or the weather while waiting for the lift to arrive.
I’m sure there are many good reasons why people think Facebook is evil. I just don’t know any of them. As with anything else, moderation is called for, and there are many ways by which moderation is arrived at. Most people I know who use Facebook have fairly full lives. Remember that all this started with college students, real social animals in the main. People who imagine that Facebook users are introverted No-First-Life loners couldn’t be further from the truth. Facebook is about community and interaction.
And it’s this facet of Facebook, the community and its interactions, that I will write about next in my Facebook and the Enterprise series.