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A worldwide phenom that began on February 4th, 2004 is an ever-present part of so many lives, mine included. Created by Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo, Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Chris Hughes, who were buddies at Harvard, it has blossomed into a multi-billion dollar enterprise with users that number in the billions as well.

I was reluctant to get involved initially since I am an in-person social butterfly and erroneously believed that it was primarily for people who were socially isolated and found it easier to connect with others online.  While I am certain there are those who fit that description many more use it to expand their social circles. Now I count myself as an active user throughout any given day.

According to Business News Daily, Facebook has a myriad of beneficial uses that include, reducing stress and inducing a natural high, seeing someone’s profile page has become a tool to determine job compatibility and predict success, as well as increasing self-esteem.

For some, Facebook falls into the category of ‘fast food communication,’ which can be minimally satisfying, but not emotionally sustaining or relationship enhancing. It is also a way of having multiple conversations simultaneously. You read something fascinating and have a desire to respond to it. Once you do so, you may continue your browsing until you receive a response and then circle back around to the original conversation.

 

Reasons I have become (as my son phrases it) a “Facebook addict”:

  • Networking with people in my fields of endeavor
  • Promoting the articles I write
  • Connecting with kindred spirits who become family of choice
  • Exercising freedom of speech to share ideas and philosophies
  • Seeking and offering support in times of crisis or ill health
  • Finding common ground
  • Entertainment
  • Dialogue
  • Finding writing prompts
  • Sharing political commentary
  • Learning how others think and feel
  • Watching videos
  • Listening to music
  • Discovering new ideas
  • Expanding my horizons

By way of researching the uses and benefits of Facebook, I developed these questions to ask those who visit my page. I will include mine as well.

Why do you have a profile page?  (I mentioned the reasons above)
What does it say about you (I think it is more telling than a dating profile)
Are you only or mostly ‘friends’ with those you know in the face to face world or do you connect with those who are at a distance? (At least half of those on my page are part of my face to face world)
Have you met FB friends and if so, what was the experience like for you? (I have met several in person; some live nearby and others at a distance. The time with them has been precious and life affirming. In every case, I feel as if I have met kindred spirits)
Why do you post what you do? (To educate, to put feelers out about the opinions of others, to crowdsource ideas, to share news, to offer and ask for support, to help promote the work or needs of others)
How self-revealing are you vs. reticent? (I am extremely self-revealing with one caveat. I don’t post anything that I don’t want the whole world to know.)
Do you use it for personal or professional networking or both? (Both)
How much time do you spend on FB? (Many hours throughout the day and night, depending on my work schedule; keeping in mind that some of my work requires me to engage social media.)
Is it hard to get off once you are on? (Admittedly, it can feel addictive as I tell myself “five more minutes,” which can turn into another hour)
Are you mostly an observer or do you interact often? (I interact often as I share comments on someone else’s posts and invite them to respond to mine.)
Why do you ‘like’ what you do? (If I find something heartwarming, uplifting, powerful, well-written, informative or intriguing, I will be inclined to give it a thumbs up, to encourage more.)
Has FB been a positive force in your life or a negative? (Most definitely positive.)
Have you taken a social media fast? (Not intentionally, although there are days when I am otherwise occupied.)
How do you deal with negativity on your page? (I am clear from the get-go that people are welcome to post on my page as long as what they are sharing is not bigoted or hateful. No violence, name calling or bashing, but rather, open minded and with the intention to unify and not divide. If someone crosses those boundaries and if they continue, I block them.)
Do you like to engage in controversial conversations? If so, how do you stay calm? (I do enjoy a feisty conversation and have difficulty at times holding back. When my emotions are triggered and I am tempted to volley back a snarky comment, I take a breath and run it through the three gates:  Is it kind? Is it true?  Is it necessary? If it can pass through all three, I share my thoughts. I also endeavor to be articulate and thoughtful about my answers.)

How about ‘unfriending’? (I have taken that step in the cases when people continue to pursue a trajectory that is spiraling downward.)
Do you tend to ‘vaguebook’ or do you speak your mind when you want interaction? (I am straightforward with my requests for attention; which is the way I perceive ‘vaguebooking‘. )What do you think about using it as a way of getting the attention that may not be accessible in day to day life? (For some it may be one of the most effective ways to be noticed. Photos; selfies in particular. have become de rigueur.)
How about trolls who stir things up? Do you take the bait, or let it pass? (I sometimes respond and shut them down with a few well chosen articulate responses and sometimes let their responses roll off my shoulders. Ultimately, they disappear and move on to another person who is more likely to engage with them.)

Some of the responses from others include:

“My original use of Facebook was to keep up with distant family members and reconnect with old friends. Emails and phone numbers can change. When I was in Asia. It was a way to see what was happening with friends in America. Is also a nice way to share pictures…. With this election, I have felt I need to put opinions out there, but also to maintain a dialogue with people who think differently. Part of me wants to sell ideas, and Another Part Of Me likes to be a bridge builder. I think I’ve managed to calm the waters and maintain dialogues between friends with different views who post in response to my articles. Recently, I have spent way too much time on Facebook.”

“I’m a social party girl with a solitary, isolating profession. Facebook is my water cooler. It lets me feel connected with friends, family, and casual acquaintances throughout the course of an otherwise isolating day. For this reason, I love it! My FB “friends” are mostly upbeat, positive people who share information and ideas that are interesting to me. If I open my feed and find that it’s otherwise, and it’s draining my energy rather than feeding it, I stop scrolling. Easy-peasy. So I don’t really understand those who complain about how bad their FB experience has gotten. Either post something good to change it up, or step away.”
“It took me a few years of prodding to enter the FB world from a young client with children. I resisted because I perceived the whole idea as boring. until I woke up one day and said, I can engage in this medium spiritually. I began to write early morning Prayer Poems to post with life enriching photos or funny respites. I have met some of the friends I’ve met here and I’ve found those that just would not be friends in face to face life disappear each to their own. My life has been blessed time and time again here, through illness, death, and work.”
“I’ve got many on Facebook who I’ve never met or REALLY know…but I’ve reconnected with old friends and family who I might not have ever seen again without Facebook. The most difficult intersection is when the latter become or act like trolls. Go figure!”
“I have often though whether there is research out there on FB as it seems to be shaping life and relationships so much. I would be interested in the impact of FB on a romantic relationship. Qualitative research based on couple interviews.”
I invite you to share your feedback as well to get a sense of your involvement with this multi-faceted place in cyberspace.