Facebook: another battle for hearts and minds.

As we all well know by know, Facebook is a part of our lives, and for many, appears to have stolen part of our souls. If you think a military reference is too strong, I disagree. With 700 million users, Facebook has permeated every part of life, both personal and professional. It is both reviled and beloved. Facebook is used for personal reasons, with friends, to show holiday photos, to organise events. It is used in business, and surely no wise business these days does not have a Facebook page that can be “Liked” and commented on. Facebook, is seems, caters to everyone, from the dizzy socialite to the lonely recluse. Facebook has come to represent meaning and validation for our existence. It has become its own psychological topic. A 2011 commercial for the Toyota Venza neatly sums up, tongue in cheek, how “hip” users of Facebook view “older” Facebook users. Having 19 friends is “so sad”, while having 687 is “living”. Cut to said sad people mountain biking through rugged countryside. Is Facebook turning us into a reclusive, idiotic society? We no longer need to go out to socialise. We are addicts, and with all addictions, there are levels of severity: some of us need rehab, some of us just need air.

Allegedly, teenagers are particularly susceptible. Another cynical view point from Underwire compares recreational drugs and Facebook  behaviour. For example, Marijuana fuelled behaviour is “Facebooked” as:  “Makes you ask people you barely know to help harvest your soybeans.” My particular favourite.  And it’s true, I have overheard entire conversations between teens with FB conversation as the topic.You know the way: “So then he commented: blah blah etc…, and then SHE commented blah BLEH etc…” Stirring stuff.

So is that all we’re good for anymore? To have every check-in be cooler than the last? To have the comments on our posts liked? On a sidenote, this reminds me of an article I read some time ago, illustrating how we could start behaving if Facebook suddenly was no more. It involved people running around with photos, shoving them in people’s faces yelling: “Do you LIKE this?”

You may think I sound too harsh. Surely, it’s only a tool? As users, Facebook is only what we make it. True and not true, and that’s without getting into the muck and mire of privacy issues, biometric identification, cyber bullying…  What I do always remember is that in my earlier days of Facebook, say four years ago, the status bar involved the requirement of having to be slightly inventive with the “is” after your name. This meant some tweaking of conjugation if you wanted to go further than just a single adjective.  It was when I realised that I was starting to spend too much time thinking of myself in the third person to accommodate this, that I became worried. And I wasn’t alone in this odd mental rewiring, as it turned out.

At any rate, Facebook, as the king of social media, is a topic worth revisiting.

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