Lately I have been much more active on Facebook than I used to be. Many people have been asking me why I’m doing this. What do you get out of it? Isn’t it a big waste of time? What do you gain from all of this activity? Isn’t it all about targeting you with ads you are most likely to click? All are legit questions and I will try to answer them in the following lines.
There have been many times in which I was on the edge of deleting my account to get away from all the likes and shares. Facebook has changed the way people interact with each other. For some reason I have never been a big fan of the question “How are you?” because anyways people either don’t answer how they really are or the listener doesn’t care enough about the answer. And now in the age of Facebook we have the opportunity to talk to each other online constantly and feel like you’re in the middle of an ongoing conversation, but at the same time the interaction is somewhat superficial. These interactions, which used to be an emotional bond have become a self-serving, information gathering platform.
Another reason I have come close to getting rid of my account is due to the fact that it’s very overwhelming to constantly and frequently post interesting and relevant things because my goal is to only post if I have something to say. People call it content. I would never post anything that sounds like “Just had a shower” because that wouldn’t interest any of my friends and followers. This principle of content can be stressful because thoughts have to be put into a post. A certain picture that, on the one hand, shows my interests still has to be close to reality so that it represents my personality offline. I am trying to build up an active audience that shares the same interests as me and is excited to see my posts (If you don’t like my interests you are welcome to unfollow me, which is not the same as to unfriend, and you will never ever see my posts again).
So why haven’t I deleted my account yet? My status quo is that a lot of information I need for my studies and responsibilities as a class representative is sent and received through Facebook. It makes it very easy to communicate with the entire class at once, see exactly who read the posts, what bothers the class and where my attention is needed. Then there are the “groups” that help very much to get and give information in the sense of crowdsourcing about any topic in the neighbourhood or for assignments at university.
I have been privileged to meet a lot of very interesting people through Facebook (and other social media like LinkedIn). This has the great advantage that people who are interested in cutting edge technology and fancy cars like me can meet because of our shared interests. I can start following them and slowly but surely get involved in discussions and talk about the stuff we like. I have e-met so many interesting people across the globe that it’s just been an incredible experience to exchange thoughts with industry leaders and VIP’s. Now, this is a key point here: In our times – compared to pre-Facebook times – it was unthinkable to get in touch with someone famous who lives on the other side of the earth, while today you can at least give it a shot and PM or tweet them straight from your phone to theirs. Isn’t this type of globalisation and interaction with the untouchables amazing?
Now back to Little Me: I have been taking cool pictures of the fanciest cars in Israel and continuously posting them on my feed. So some of my “friends” got annoyed at me (and hopefully by now took me out of their news feed) but I also got great feedback from people who share my hobby and even started taking pictures for me and sending them to me from all around the world. This is the kind of reputation that I have recently been trying to build up for myself about Technology as well.
Among my offline friends (of which the majority is on Facebook too), I am the car and tech guy. And I am loving it. Here comes the story that connects all that’s being said: The power of Facebook and cars.
One morning I get a text message from a friend of mine that I have known for about 3 years now (see picture on the left). I felt that this was my moment to prove to myself and the world that Facebook has some great powers lying within it. It was undeniable. I messaged the biggest Israeli Car Page on Facebook and asked them to help. Within a couple of hours the admin posted a nice long post (see below). He usually only posts car picture but decided to make an exception since there was such a great cause behind it. Result: 360 likes, 26 comments and 27 shares. This is online – while I am writing. Offline is even more intense: Four people immediately contacted the Admin to volunteer to go for a ride with this sick boy. One guy ended up picking up the boy and driving around with him in his red Ferrari, followed by a nice photo shoot of the boy and the car. The amount of time it took to make this little boy happy is literally negligible. We are talking here about half an hour of effort, only made possible by Facebook. My posts of cars and the power of quick communication with the right people made it possible to arrange this meeting for this boy within no time.
The conclusion is quite obvious and I’ve heard it so many times from my parents: Almost everything in this world can be good or bad; the question is just how we use it. Will I delete my Facebook account? Probably at some point in the near future because I feel my time on Facebook is up and it’s time to move on. Good things can, and do, come from it. But at the same time it’s extremely important to me that it is clear to everyone that Facebook is a tool – and a tool only – to interact with people online, but the real interaction is outside – in the offline world. Something to remember.