Monday, September 22, 2008

Is Facebook Social?

By Robin Bulanti
I stalled. I fought it. I said never! But I was curious. I kept hearing “Facebook Facebook Facebook.” I stalled and I waited for as long as possible. But as it started to seem like a business tool I was missing out on, I decided to jump in…

Yes, I’m finally on Facebook. And it’s better and worse than I anticipated. My worst fears confirmed immediately—it’s a distracting, addictive, strange and surreal mash-up of childhood pals, college friends with too much time on their hands, professional colleagues and clients, and in some cases, complete strangers who want to add me as a friend (who are they?).

It’s an ever-expanding social “utility” for pastimes like photo sharing, networking and socializing, new applications, along with the less-than-useful silly quizzes and time-wasters (and sure, I do those too). Does it have a shot as a serious business contender? Will it help mobilize individuals for social change and causes? Who cares, I’m hooked. My poor, neglected Yahoo! has been officially upstaged by Facebook.

In a strange way, what I don’t like about Facebook is also what I love about it. Online, we’re more AND less connected than ever. I miss real letters in the mail, personal connections, face-to-face meetings and phone calls (texts don’t count!). But like everyone else, I have less time than ever. And Facebook (like Twitter and others) requires practically zero effort to follow my friends’ ups and downs, every move and random thought. Now I may not have spoken to someone in 10 years, but I know what they ate for lunch…now that’s weird.

The world (and my network) is larger and smaller than ever before. It’s a little big brother, it’s a little thrilling, and for now at least, it’s pretty fun. But feel free to write me a letter and pop it in the mail, I still miss that.