How I use Facebook

This is #1 on Chris Brogan’s list 100 Blog Topics I Hope YOU Write. I got this idea from Jeremy Lichtman to see how many of these topics I can write about, and how quickly.

I have been using Facebook for a while now, and my use of it has reached a point where I constantly consider deleting my account. I opened my account with the goal of connecting with friends, and having an easy way to keep in touch with those I do not see on a regular basis. In actuality, my use of Facebook has strayed far from that path.

I just checked my account, and I have 209 “friends”. Of these, some are family (12 friends), some are coworkers or ex-coworkers (14 friends) and the rest fall into the category of friends (283 friends). That’s a lot of friends. Some of them are people whom I would not consider friends, but I do know, and when asked to connect with them, I simply clicked ok. I suspect that if I were to disconnect from those 283 “friends”, 50% of them would never notice (note that Facebook does not tell you when someone deletes a friend).

I have found that beyond telling me when a friend’s birthday is, and collating contact information for a lot of people, Facebook is more about disconnecting people from each other than connecting them.

In the past (i.e. pre-Facebook), if I wanted to ask a friend a question, I would either send them an e-mail, or pick up a phone and call them. Now, with Facebook, I simply go onto their Facebook page, and either send them a private message or put a post on their wall and wait for a response. It sounds like Facebook is making it easier to connect with other people, right?

Wrong. I’ve found that response time through Facebook is much slower than e-mail or calling their phone and leaving a message. Most people, when they get a message left on their phone, will return the call. An e-mail sent to their personal address is likely to get a reply. A message left on Facebook is ignored. As well, I have found that people use Facebook as a way of distancing themselves from bad news, and don’t think twice about using it to send a message they would be reluctant to deliver in person.

While I know more about past and current associates because of Facebook, I don’t feel more connected to them because of it. As of today, I am resolving to change my use of Facebook as follows:

  1. If you want to reach me, don’t use Facebook. Call me. Send me an e-mail. If you don’t have my contact information, use the old-fashioned phonebook.
  2. If you want to send me a political message, don’t bother. You are either preaching to the converted, or preaching to someone who can argue with you until you’re not sure which side of the argument you were presenting.
  3. If you want to add me as a friend on Facebook and want me to accept, ensure that I know who you are, and I will have a reason to connect with you. If I were to send you a message, would you be likely to answer? If the answer is no, or if I think the answer is going to be no, I’m not going to add you.