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I'm Doing Facebook Wrong

26 March 2010

I've been doing Facebook all wrong. I thought Facebook was a fun place to share information with friends and family. You keep them up-to-date on what you've been doing. You share recent photos. You talk about the things you have in common. It seems that's how most of my younger friends treat it.

It's fun like that. That isn't how people my age use it.

I had a few clues. I'd post a small gallery of images from a recent adventure, but it didn't seem like anyone was looking at them. If others posted a gallery, I'd look through everything but baby photos [they all look alike to me]. Sometimes, I'd comment. I even commented on a Halloween costume of a girl from high school's kids. I didn't really know her in high school, but she knew people who knew me, so we ended up as Facebook 'friends'. Often, I was the only person commenting on a gallery addition. It seemed no one looked through other peoples galleries.

I did notice lots of people posted every image in their camera, but I thought they were just those kind of people.

The Flair I was getting was another hint I missed. If I was looking through Flair and saw something I knew would interest someone I know, I would send it to them. The Flair I was getting from my friends wasn't like that. They would often send me Flair that was about them, revolved around their interests. It bothered me. It seemed strange, but I pushed the question of 'why?' to the back of my mind.

When I'd find something cool on the net, I'd post a link. Hey, if I think this is interesting, maybe someone else will enjoy it, right? Wrong. Video links, no comment. New science news, a comment here and there. I could post the most silly status and get 50 comments, but the links that really excited me? The comments were few and far between.

When I was off the board for a few days someone told me I should stop in and simply say hello - I didn't have to 'carry Facebook'. The phrase confused me. I hadn't considered my links were being taken that way. I wasn't one of those 'here are five YouTube videos about a subject you couldn't care less about' people. It was more like, 'Here's a funny video' every now-and-then.

I asked a friend and he said if he didn't know me, he would think the same of me. Knowing I would be sending him those links instead of posting them, because that's what I do, he understood. To others, it might appear as though I was trying to be a source of content. I like when people send me links of cool things. Apparently, some people don't, and you're odd or trying to run the board if you post them.

I also noticed some people would post the same 'interesting' thing about themselves in the comments of different posts. They would slightly alter it to the post they were commenting on, but it was the same information - 'I have this...' 'I've done this...'

It was confusing to see people post 'Good morning, Facebook' and 'Goodnight, Facebook'. It didn't make sense. They weren't talking to FB; they were talking to their friends. Why would they address FB?

Then, someone posted a picture of their lunch. They took a photo of their lunch and posted on FB. That wasn't 'keeping up with their friends'. It was like depositing the minutiae of their life on a web server.

Slowly, it started to sink in. People aren't really posting to their friends - not in a genuine way. They are using FB to brag about what they're doing, get support from others, and help themselves believe they are important, they matter, in the world. They aren't really seeing it as two-way. They comment, when they can advertise themselves. They send hearts and angels and butterflies, to show what caring people they are. They don't really care, but sending a heart is just a click. It's so much easier than really caring.

I'm guilty of it, at least as far as the photos are concerned. I posted about ten pictures from a trip to the zoo, seven pictures from a trip to Europe. I tried to keep the galleries very small and wrote, what I hoped were, clever captions. I thought it would be an amusement. Many of my friends' galleries have upward of fifty pictures of random things, slapped up with no caption, nothing that even says where or why the photo was taken. My galleries were short and themed. But now, thinking about it, why did I post mine? Was I caught up in the whole, 'Look what I'm doing!' nature of the board? Posting, not to my friends, but to Facebook, to show I exist?

© Simon

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