I joined Facebook a little over 3 years ago because that’s when we started our business and became specialists in Social Media. We are in the business of promoting Facebook for business. It’s just what we do. Along the way, I started using Facebook more and more for connecting with friends, family and “blasts from the past”. Lately, I have been questioning whether this is a good thing or a bad thing and here’s why:
- It has reduced the number of phone calls and actual interactions. While I believe this may be good for business (and not all of the time – face-to-face contact is a good part of an overall business strategy), I am sometimes saddened that the only place to catch up with family or friends is through Facebook. And it really blows my skirt up when someone uses the “I didn’t see it on Facebook” as an excuse.
- It has caused unwitting arguments. I had a certain incident where I liked a page that happened to be a competitor of someone close to me. The page was beneficial to us from our marketing standpoint, but I was called out on it and basically forced to “unlike” the page due to this conflict of interest.
- Sometimes people post things that they are feeling, which may have a profound impact on another family member or friend. I have had family members or friends remark to me that they were hurt or upset about comments or postings from other family members or friends. While I understand that “intent” is a key factor, sometimes it’s just a post where it didn’t enter someone’s mind that someone else might be hurt before that enter key was pressed. When we post on Facebook, we are generally posting our feelings. Unless privacy controls are strictly set to restrict certain people, everyone gets to see what our feelings are, be they happy or sad. This sometimes causes old wounds to resurface and an argument to ensue or it may just remind a person of losses, things they wish had been different, things they wish are different. You get the drift.
- Arguments or “discussuments” with family members or friends happen. Does it hurt you or help you that you can keep up with what’s going on in their life because you can still see the status on Facebook? And if they hide their statuses or, God forbid, the dreaded “UNFRIENDING” occurs, you may find yourself at a point of anger, frustration, hurt, fear or apathy. How does this affect this relationship? If you were not online, wouldn’t you pick up the phone more readily and try to come to an understanding?
- Old Wounds. Have you “friended” someone from the past and had it bring up an old wound? I bet most of us have – whether it’s an “old love”, an ex-spouse and their family, or a memory of being ignored by the popular kid in high school. How about a once very close friendship that managed to just disappear? Somehow you manage to reconnect on Facebook but it doesn’t rekindle that once close tie.
When we taught the Facebook class for social media at the local tech college over the last 2 years, one of the examples we gave as “what not to do” was this one:
Now this may be somewhat of an extreme, but it is an example of how things might slip out that others could be hurt by. And, of course, much of the comments that we see may be taken much more to heart than the writer intended. This same type of thing occurs in email.
Emotions are hard to read when you’re not looking someone dead in the eye or hearing the sound of their voice.
I’m in the process of evaluating whether or not staying connected with family and friends on social networks is something to reconsider. If I come to the conclusion that it isn’t, and I start the un-friending process, please don’t be offended – it’s not personal. I’d much rather talk to you over the phone or visit with you in person. I am a huge proponent of family and friend get-togethers and meaningful relationships. The featured photo in this post is of my grandmother and my son a long time ago. It is a photo that memorializes a connection that just can’t be made online.
I know there are lists and I know that I can segregate my comments to specific audiences. This thought process is in its infancy stages. We, as a business, will of course stay on Facebook both through transparent personal profiles and our business page. I do believe that Facebook is a fantastic place for businesses to connect.
What are your thoughts? Is this what the future holds and you need to just “deal with it”? Or would you prefer that IRL (In Real Life) interaction with your family and friends? Is any interaction better than no interaction? Are we too internet focused? Is instant gratification the “all important”?
I don’t know about you, but I need a hug.