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The world according to Facebook

I told you I was addicted to blogging.

So much for once a week.  In my defense, I did add the qualifier "or so".  I just have a lot to say, ok?  And if you are going to listen to me, I'm just going to keep on talking.  Ask my husband about that.

So there's this new-fangled thing called Facebook.  Apparently, all the hip kids are doing it these days.  Actually, when there are now fan pages for everything from Heinz Ketchup (494K+ fans) to Birds Eye Vegetables (22K+ fans) I'm trying to figure out how many people, businesses, and ideas are NOT found on Facebook these days.

In the early days of Google, there was a phenomenon called Googlewhacking.  The concept was simple: put two words (without quotes) into the search bar and try to come up with one (and ONLY one) result.  Try it.  I've never succeeded.  I think that's where Facebook has gone these days.  Try searching for anything and see if there isn't a fan page of some kind.  I'm the first to admit that if you run a business  (like, oh, say Romp n' Roll) or you're trying to promote an organization (like, oh, say...CJ's Thumbs Up Foundation), Facebook is the place to be seen.  It's the way to get the word out.  I love social media. 

I love Facebook for many reasons.  It has allowed me to connect with some of my closest friends who are now scattered far and wide across the country.  We used to send Christmas cards once a year or talk on the phone every so often.  Now we Facebook.  We catch up on each other's lives via status updates and virtual photo galleries.  I feel more in touch with some of my friends now than when we were in high school or college. I never forget to wish them a happy birthday because Facebook faithfully reminds me.  I know when their child loses a tooth.  I know when they get sick.  I know when they've had a good day...or a shitty one.  We can revel virtually in each other's lives and still feel like we are "in touch". 

How many of you get your news from Facebook these days?  I frequently log on, trolling through the latest updates to find news from both legitimate sources (NPR and HuffPo are two of my faves) as well as news of note posted by friends.  Want to know if it's snowing in Hanover County?  Check Facebook.  Want to know if a celebrity died? or is getting a divorce?  or went to a club without wearing underwear?  Someone on Facebook will be talking about it.  It can be a little overwhelming.  I find you have to filter...and check your facts.

This leads to the slippery side of Facebook.  Everything has a dark side, right?  So where is the line?  How far do you go?  Have you ever seen this picture?

It floated around Facebook for a while and everyone said the hunter was using his camera's timer to take a picture of his "kill".  It was only after looking at the developed photo that he saw the mountain lion stalking him in the background.  Scary, huh?  Here's the problem. The photo is a fake.  

This is a prime example of a frequent occurrence in the world of Facebook.  People are easily sucked in to whatever they read.  They don't always check the facts and they just blindly pass along information, trusting it to be true.  Five years ago, people did this via email.  Ten years ago, we just told these stories at a dinner party or cocktail hour.  They are urban legends.  Sometimes there's an element of truth but mostly, it's a lot of exaggeration and not a lot of verifyable fact.  The problem is that we tend to believe what we read.  We, as a society, are blind and trusting consumers of information.  If we read it (especially if it's on the Internet), it must be true.  

This is where Facebook starts to annoy me.  I have to draw the line somewhere.  I try to verify what I read before I pass it along.  If you post something that is untrue, I may call you on it (thanks, Snopes).  If you post a status update that states something like "repost this as your status update if you agree" you can pretty much bet that I won't be one of the people who will copy you.  I don't get sucked in to games like Farmville or Mafia Wars.  I don't pass along hearts or flowers or hugs.  I don't poke.  I don't click "like" on every conceivable concept known to man. 

BUT I have been known to take a random survey.  I mean, I do need to know which Desperate Housewife best reflects my personality (Lynette) or which 80's teen heart-throb would be my boyfriend (John Cusack, of course).  On the other hand, I don't think I need to know which serial killer is most like me.  I might question the personality of someone who does.   

I don't think poorly of anyone who chooses to use Facebook in this way.  Facebook is what you make it and if it's a glorious time suck that makes your day a little bit happier, all the better.  I am just grateful that I can hide all the superfluous posts that show me how you spent your day on Facebook.  It makes my cruising a little more efficient. 

I have never de-friended anyone.  To my knowledge, nobody has ever de-friended me (so far).  I have hidden a few people from my news feed because their news just got to be a little too much to tolerate.  I have one "friend" who apparently selectively allows certain people to comment on her feeds but doesn't allow others to commentate on her posts.  Personally, I think that's a pretty chicken-shit maneuver.  If you're going to open yourself up to opinion and commentary, you have to be ready to take the heat from all sides. 

I love posting a news article or opinion that generates conversation and discussion.  I'm proud to have friends on all sides of the political and sociological spectrum.  While I may not agree with you, I love a healthy dialogue.  You can ask my husband about that too.  It's pretty tough to hurt my feelings.  

Years from now, there will be psychology courses and sociology courses devoted to how the world uses Facebook.  Some use it to seek attention, others use it to feel better about themselves.   Some use it to find love, others use it to bash their ex-es.  Some use it to vent about a difficult time in their lives, others use it to brag about recent accomplishments.  Some people just like to goof off.  Facebook is the world in all its facets, both expanded and concentrated all at the same time. 

How do you Facebook?

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