Monday, August 10, 2009

Assessing the value of Facebook

My morning routine involves coffee, Internet, email and Facebook. My use of of the popular social networking site has increased tenfold in the last six months or so. I sometimes check on the hour to see if I've had any updates or to add one of my own. At first when I signed up for an account I had only a few friends and I didn't really check on it too much. As more of my friends started using it my use has increased also.

It has also become something you exchange along with you email and phone number when exchanging contact info. Though it has it's silly side with quizzes, games and other nonsense it does have the feel of a more mature site. Just how does this Internet phenomenon add value to your life, either in a personal or business sense?

Personally I find it a great way to keep in touch with family and friends in a non-intrusive way. In today's world our time constantly being filled up with everyday life event's like family, work, business or personal issue's. We don't always have time to chat with our friends or family. Coordinating people's schedule to chat on the phone or meet up for lunch can be a major challenge to some. Email's can be lost in shuffle between spam mail or lost in a inbox with hundreds of other messages that we'll get to tomorrow. With a simple status report on our Facebook wall or by adding some photo's we can keep others up to date with what were doing. You can keep in touch with those that live far away and have minimal contact with in real life.

I think this a great way for families that only seem to gather for weddings, funerals or holidays to stay in contact during the in between time. Photo's can be shared along with birthday messages. I've been able to keep up with my cousins who live long distances away and find out how they are doing. I find out family news long before I would have through the tradition grapevine of family gatherings and other traditional social events of the past.

Another benefit is to find old school friends to see how they have changed. Though this can be a double edge sword sometimes. Not everyone probably wants to be in touch with their third grade tormentor. The good thing is that "friending" someone is strictly voluntary so you can weed out the undesirables. The benefits I think outweigh the negative though. It's nice to see how old friends are doing. I've made new friends along the way too that I perhaps didn't forge a relationship in real life. You may even find old flames on Facebook that you

may be looking for.

Another valuable thing is that you can learn a lot about people just by what they post(or don't post). The numerous silly games and quizzes can give you insight into people that maybe you've missed in real life. You can (depending on how much information they reveal in there privacy settings) find out tidbits of info about friends or family that you may have known only a little about.

It can be a way to keep business contacts informed and to maintain professional relationships. A word of caution though, businesses and upper management can use this information for or against to you. You may want to think twice about becoming friends with a superior or someone else that may find some of your personal habits or postings disagreeable. If you call in "sick" refrain from posting picture's from the beach you went to the same day or you may have more time on the beach than you like.

Many businesses, celebrities, musicians, politicians, causes and many more well known entities also maintain a Facebook accounts. This can be a personal way to market there items without being overly commercialized. I keep up with Slash (formerly of Guns'N Roses) does every day along with what former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has to say.

Overall I find it very beneficial being on Facebook. It is a way to maintain contact with friends and family in a non-intrusive manner. You can find old friends you went school with or rekindle an old flame of yours that perhaps got away the first time. You may even learn more about your friends and create stronger relationships with them. Celebrities, groups, businesses may stay in touch with their fans that has a more personal touch and less commercialized or faked message than mainstream media outlets. Facebook has an excellent balance of friendliness, fun and maturity that I find very appealing and addicting.

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