Finally, the debate you’ve all been waiting for. Facebook.
For some time now, but with considerable intensity in the last couple of months, people – both friends and new acquaintances – have been asking me if I am on Facebook.
No, I always reply. And I explain why: I don’t see the point in social networking sites that are networking for the sake of it. I think they’re great if they’re networking for a purpose – and Flickr is a brilliant example of this. It’s a place to store, share and explore photos, and while there is a strong networking element to it (groups, comments, “friends” and contacts, tags, and so on) it’s networking about photos – people aren’t getting to know each other just or the sake of it, they’re doing so because of the common interest in photos.
Facebook, however, seems to have no apparent purpose. It’s just… networking. And surely the whole idea of networking is because there’s a reason for it.
“But you can use it to keep in touch with people”, I’m told. “No,” I reply. “I have email for that. And not to mention MSN messenger, reading their blogs (if they have one), the telephone, and (gasp!) actually talking to them in person. Which nobody seems to do these days any more. Why would I need Facebook to keep in touch with people I am already in touch with?”
“But what about people you’re not in touch with, who you want to be? Or people who want to track you down? Or meeting new and interesting people?”
Well, there’s a number of responses to that. Firstly, if folk are wanting to get in touch with me, a quick google search will lead you to my website and to this very blog, as many people I’ve lost touch with over the years have done.
Secondly, and without sounding big-headed, I have a good number of wonderful friends, many of whom I often struggle to keep in touch with as much as I would like. Could I really cope with having more friends to have to keep tracks with?
I already lead a busy life, am blessed with an active social life, I travel lots for work and pleasure, and have lots of great friends all over the country (and world), and frankly don’t need a networking site to help me make new ones. That might sound callous, clinical and potentially very arrogant, but it’s meant to be none of them – it’s just my honest personal perspective.
And thirdly, do I really want to be “found” by certain people? A lot of Facebook to me sounds like a perfect stalker’s charter. Do I want people to know everything I do in life and who all my other friends are? With this blog, for instance, I have full control over what you know about me – it’s my blog after all, and I can write what I think is most appropriate. With Facebook, I worry about losing some of that control.
Oh, and fourthly, why Facebook? Last year, all the cool kids were on Bebo. The year before that, it was MySpace. Who’s to say Facebook isn’t just a “flash in the pan” fad that’ll be forgotten about next year and be replaced by something else? If I joined Facebook, I’d have to join them all to be consistent and obtain the real benefits, and frankly there’s more to life than keeping your dozen different networking sites up to date.
That raises another question – what do people who are on all these sites do? If you spend your whole time maintaining your networking sites, you’re not actually doing anything substantive all day, or leading a life that is actually worth networking about. It’s like building roadsigns but no roads or destinations. Why would I want to be friends with someone whose status is permanently set at “x is updating his Bebo/MySpace/Twitter”.
Yet people persist in asking if I am on Facebook. It’s like a standard question, alongside what’s your phone number?” or “what do you do?”. “Everyone” is apparently on it.
So while I remain a Facebook sceptic, I do accept that it seems to have more appeal to folk than many of the other sites out there.
Should I join? Will it actually bring added value to my life?
Let me know your thoughts either way and I will have a good think about it all.
I’m off to North Queensferry and Aberdeen for work tomorrow morning and won’t check my email again until Wednesday night.
Until then, play safe.