What We Don’t Say About Facebook

Pamela Chan, BCFamily.ca/Editorial

A few months ago I started year 9 using Facebook. Sometimes it takes awhile to form conclusions about how people use a product or service. During all of these years, I’ve happened upon two key observations about patterns that you see on Facebook.

Do you remember the gorgeous, smart, popular, well connected people from your school days? You know the ones who seemed nice but not any nicer than anyone else.  And yet they bedazzled so many. You won’t want to hear this but… they will forever be popular in cyber space.  Even if he or she opens their Facebook account once every year or two – even if their profile is mostly made up of photos others have tagged using their name – they will receive countless birthday wishes from people who haven’t seen them in decades. Without making any further contributions to social relationships started years ago, their social status will forever be solid gold.

Yes – it doesn’t seem fair. But there you have it.

Here’s another tidbit about Facebook dynamics that is rarely discussed because it’s somewhat unattractive.

There is a certain type of Facebook user who puts forth the appearance of being the man/woman about the globe.  The photos and content shared on their personal profile page is carefully constructed and curated.  They have hundreds of contacts. They seamlessly mix business with the personal as they share details of their professional and personal activities with everyone. They’re oh so busy and will say that they rarely use Facebook.   In fact they do see the content that their friends, colleagues and classmates past and present are sharing.  BUT they will never make an appearance on most of their contacts’ pages in the form of a like, comment, message or reply to a like/comment/message.

That is until there is a grim update. (I won’t go into details but you can imagine what this might be.) Then and ONLY then will this person show his or her presence.

Misery Monday posts (popular on Old School FB), happy announcements, baby/pet adoption/engagement/wedding/job change/moving notices etc. won’t merit a squeak.

May I never get to that point. Because that’s just not how I roll as I try to keep the “social” in Social Media.

“The thing that we are trying to do at Facebook is just help people connect and communicate more efficiently.” *

“Facebook is about communicating and telling stories.” *

“We are extending people’s capacity to build and maintain relationship.” *

Mark Zuckerberg*

Why mention these topics?  They’re just two of many patterns that you see on social media. How well are we connecting and communicating on Facebook?  Are we really building relationships and communicating more efficiency – shall we say better – than before?  If we’re not sharing via telephone, letters, postcards and E-mail, is Facebook filling the void in an improved way?  What does the information we share and how we share it say about us, our relationships with others and how we value people?  Are we using this tool in the best way we can?

Phew.  It feels good to mention this topic. Almost a decade is too long to keep it all politely tucked away.

Of course you’re not one of those people, are you?  But I’ll be you know someone who is.  What trends have you noticed?

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