Pop culture is mostly lost on me. Most of the time I don’t really understand what all the hype is about the latest fad. I’m not the type who typically jumps at something just because most everyone is doing it. So when this whole social networking thing exploded, I just sat in the sidelines, waiting to see where this whole thing would lead. A lot of my friends were sending me invites to join Friendster and MySpace but I ignored them all. I was kind of a snob, you see, and I felt they were geared more towards kids and would be just a grand waste of my time. Then in 2007, a close friend sent me an invitation to join Facebook. Curiosity got the better of me and I signed up. It was then that the whole world of social networking opened up for me.
Facebook was only the beginning. Soon enough I joined LinkedIn (for professional networking) and Twitter (just because a lot of people I know are on it) and I got a massive information overload! With so many people sharing information, how can one find enough time in the day to absorb them all? And, if that wasn’t enough, there were people I was interacting with on a regular basis. I mean who would have thought that there would come a time when I would be exchanging tweets with a person in Thailand about the results of American Idol?
However, if I were to choose which one really made quite an impact on my daily life, it would be Facebook. I check LinkedIn only occassionally to keep tabs with industry news and the latest workplace trends and to see what my former bosses and co-workers have been up to lately. Even rarer was for me to send and receive tweets. With Facebook, I’m in it consistently, every waking hour of every day, at work, at home, at the train station. If I’m not at my computer, then I’m checking it on my phone. It’s always the first website I visit every time I log in. I think it’s become a sickness but I just truly enjoy the interaction I have with my friends and family on my wall – well, my “Plank”, as I have set my Facebook page’s language to Pirate English. I hardly even send them email anymore. All my sharing I do on Facebook now. Before, if I don’t have someone’s email, then I pretty much lose touch of them. Nowadays, if someone doesn’t have a Facebook account, then they get left out of my updates like pictures of my new baby or compelling videos of a cat trying to fit in boxes of varying sizes.
When I signed up for a Facebook account, I had no idea it would consume so much time to keep up with all the news feeds and to give feedbacks and comments on pictures, videos and links people are sharing. That’s not even counting the time spent on games, which I have now stopped doing as there’s not enough time in the day to work them all in. Facebook is now officially my number one cause of non-productive activity. I really should limit my usage of it but how else can I connect with my long lost friends and relatives? Through Facebook, I’ve found friends I haven’t had contact with since after graduating from high school. Cousins and cousins twice removed have found me and we’ve all reunited somehow, keeping abreast of each other’s lives. I’ve even rekindled a relationship with a person I’ve fallen in love with in high school. I’ve always known that the internet is a powerful medium for bringing people together but Facebook has gone beyond that by allowing me to customize my experience, to control with whom I want to interact and to choose which information to share.
Of course, just like with any other website, we all should be aware of what we’re allowing people to see and always use extreme precaution when sharing personal information. When it comes to sharing information, Facebook makes it really easy for us to do that – but unfortunately same goes for third party applications and advertisers.
So, I’m always careful with what I post on Facebook. What I wouldn’t want other people to know, I don’t share as my privacy is only as good as what I post online. Despite the privacy issues though, I really love using Facebook and I do believe it helped social networking transcend from just a facet of pop culture into the mainstream. The speed by which I can interact with friends, relatives and even potential business clients makes for an efficient way to share information. I no longer have the need to send emails of baby pictures or stupid jokes or some useful article that I’ve read. All I do is post them and all those in my network are free to peruse them anytime they want. No need to clutter their inbox with stuff they’re only going to read once. I never thought the day would come that I would think email is inefficient but when I hear a couple of friends saying that they’d rather post messages on Facebook because people check that more often than email, then I’d postulate that Facebook is now eclipsing email as a primary method of keeping in touch with people. Which of course begs the question: “What’s next after Facebook?”