Someone once told me that if you have two or three really good friends throughout your life you are an extremely fortunate person. Obviously they were not aware of Facebook. I now have more than 700 really good friends, some of which I haven't even met. You may question the sincerity of their friendship, but I don't, as many of them share very personal information with me.
I do not hide the fact that I use Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google + and Twitter on a regular basis, but I use it strictly to promote my photographs, travel adventures and restaurant reviews. I do not share what I had for breakfast, what I plan to wear or 'I can't believe she wore that today'.
Many people tell me they don't use Facebook because they do not want the whole world to know their business. I laugh every time I hear this because I'm pretty sure that none of us want the whole world to know our business. I find it funny because simply put, if you don't post it on Facebook no one will know.
I remember life before social media (vaguely) and I don't ever remember going around to people and telling them every detail of my existence. Not just because I didn't want them to know, but I really don't think they cared. I mean really, do I care what flavour of ice cream my friends ate and where and when they ate it?
So why has it all suddenly changed? Probably because deep down we want to share everything and social media gives us a seemingly anonymity to what we say and do. Unlike a conversation, there is no instant feedback, suggesting we can continue babbling indefinitely. Then we realize we can't delete it so we shrug our shoulders and live with it, besides all of our friends are doing the same thing.
Honestly, if we did not have a deep-rooted need for this type of outlet Facebook would not have soared to over a billion users In a few short years. I remember when it was first launched very few of us, save for a handful of kids, thought it had much of a future, just like my father vehemently saying we would never pay $6 a month for cable when regular television was free. Of course he said the same about Chargex, when it first came out and here I am, quite a few years later finding myself saying the same about social media... until I tried it.
I remember the very first time I logged into Facebook and added a few friends. I watched in disbelief as people I knew were suddenly sharing intimate details of their lives and doing so with little or no regard for their own privacy and security. I remember a friend posting how she was looking forward to heading to a cottage for a week. She also had her home address and telephone number posted. It was an open invitation for anyone to break into her house.
Then came photographs. It was not enough to tell the world what type of shampoo you used that morning, but now you can also post photos of yourself washing your hair. Most people who use Facebook do so without thinking. Unfortunately, like anything on the internet, once it's up you can't take it down. The world was changing right before my eyes.
One day the unthinkable happened. Internet technology was not enough and the smart phone was invented and appropriately named, because it is smarter than most of us. Plus, I could stay up to date with my Facebook friends whereever I went. Wow, could it get any better?
I seldom posted anything personal, not because I was concerned people would know what I was doing, but more so because I really did not believe anyone would care. Was this a fad? I began to think not, especially when I learned that Mark Zuckerman (founder and CEO of Facebook) was worth five billion dollars and only 23 or so years old.
After my third or fourth blackberry I switched to the other side and purchased an IPhone. Now I was truly part of the social media circuit. I could check my phone regularly and see what my growing list of friends was up to. Sure I can also make phone calls on my smart phone, but who does that when texting is so much easier, cheaper and more fun... or so I'm told.
Just as I began to grasp Facebook the Twitter revolution was born which gave everyone the ability to Tweet. You have to admit the terminology sounds pretty darn silly, but the concept was awesome. I was getting news flashes as they happened, travel updates immediately and information from all over the world as soon as it occurred. I stayed away from following Charlie Sheen and Britney Spears, as we just didn't have that much in common.
One of my greatest confusions is social media and the younger generation. Teens are walking around with $600 phones (purchased on plans to minimize the cost) and constantly using them; in cars, on buses, in malls and crossing the street. Outlawing usage while driving was a good thing, but I hate walking behind people in a mall who are texting and suddenly stop, without any regard for others. People crossing the street engrossed in their friend's latest exploits are oblivious to cars (especially when wearing ear buds) and have no idea of the risk they put themselves at.
The name social media is a bit of an oxymoron. There is nothing social about it. It eliminates the need to physically communicate with people, as well as reading newspapers, watching human interest programs on television or simply hanging with friends.
If you've never tried Facebook, Twitter or any one of dozens of social media programs give them a try. Just remember not to share your deepest darkest secrets, because it is after all the Internet... the land of no return.