Why You Could Be Wrong To Hate Facebook

iStock_000035142008_MediumAbout three months ago, a friend of mine commented on social media that she was scaling back her activity, allowing her some refreshing anonymity. Because we’re friends, I know the life events driving her choice. Yet, it also occurred to me that we wouldn’t be friends today, if it weren’t for social media.

Of course, while meeting new people and developing meaningful relationships is still possible, social media has changed.

Based on a recent eulogy of twitter, as well as from personal experience, it seems we’ve left Twitterville behind. It sure seems that social media is different, and it’s future ain’t what it used to be. [Tweet this] Certainly, my friend continues to maintain presence on the social media platforms she’s been on, even if she’s scaling back her participation. Yet, there are whole groups of people who do choose to opt out of various social media platforms – especially Facebook!

 No Names Required

Let’s face it. Lots of people hate Facebook. [Tweet this] Not only is Facebook merely hated, but there has emerged an alternative social media platform that seems to hold itself morally superior. That platform is Ello. Actually, I base my sense of the founders’ lofty sense of self-worth on their manifesto which, among other views, states:

“Your social network is owned by advertisers. Every post you share, every friend you make, and every link you follow is tracked, recorded, and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold. We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce, and manipulate — but a place to connect, create, and celebrate life.”

I told you it’s lofty. It’s also idealistic. But it makes Ello seem detached from reality. [Tweet this]

So much of what Ello rejects about Facebook are the kinds of social hooks that help people identify common views, interests, and activities. And no matter what your feeling on the ads and commercial elements on Facebook, we actually get to know about people by seeing what pages they like, the content they share, videos they watch, the products they buy, and more. Which I think is a lot like how we get to know people in “real life.”

Nor do I think Ello’s position on privacy is based in reality. After all, if you have a credit card, have banking and investment accounts, fly on airlines, shop online, or join loyalty programs, the data you generate is already being sold. What’s more, you don’t need to be on Facebook to get ads displayed to you. [Tweet this] They already show up in your e-mail inbox. So, it seems to me you face a challenge to stop it all; that is, unless you want to go off the grid.

I’ve tried Ello, and am not particularly thrilled. Valuing simplicity, Ello presents a very clean (if poorly designed) environment. Perhaps too clean. Unlike Facebook, Ello makes no suggestions. Since it doesn’t track my activity, it doesn’t know me. Nor does it know anyone else. In this sense, Facebook is like that friend who introduces you to new people. Ello is a disinterested bystander. [Tweet this]

Perhaps, though, the biggest objection I have is Ello’s no name policy. Specifically:

“You have the right to be anyone you want. You’re safest when you control what you disclose on a social network. You should not be required to give your real name, age, sex, race, marital status, sexual orientation, religion, education, home address, or any other personal information which could be sold to third parties.”

While there are some people for whom this may make sense, it makes it really hard to build relationships with others. After all, if I don’t get to know who you really are, how can I trust you? If I don’t trust you, how can I feel comfortable sharing with you information about myself? [Tweet this]

A World That Doesn’t Exist

I don’t want to imply that every one who gets fed up with Facebook skips over to Ello. Some simply chose to delete their accounts. In fact, the author of a LinkedIn post I just read, as well as many of the commenters, have simply deleted their Facebook accounts. Why? Well, in the case of the author: “I’m tired of wasting my time and energy interacting with a world that doesn’t exist.”

He goes on to explain that his decision was based on a recognition that Facebook had become an addiction for him, saying he found himself checking it constantly. Worse, he says:

“Facebook gave the illusion of engaging with others. Of course it allowed me to engage with a vast audience comprised mostly of people I never see and don’t care all that much about.”

He’s okay with LinkedIn, though, where he has 500+ connections. Of course, it made me wonder about the actual existence of his LinkedIn world. Yet to be fair, based on the balance of his post, my impression is that he’s more oriented to publishing his ideas than he is to building relationships. I’m actually okay with that.

Real People, Real Lives

What I’m not okay with, though, is the dismissal of Facebook as a “world that doesn’t exist.” [Tweet this]

Whatever you may feel about Facebook – or LinkedIn, or Twitter, or Instagram – it’s populated with real people who lead real lives. FriendsPeople who have challenges and aspirations, just like you do. If you don’t care about them, it’s really your issue. It doesn’t make them less real. Yet, if you regard them as real people and take an interest in them, you may find that you can make real friends in a digital world.

Still, if you find that Facebook – or any other platform – doesn’t bring you joy, break it off. But you may also need to acknowledge this: “It’s not you, it’s me.” Because it usually is.

Be Yourself, Only Better

goldfish jumping out of the waterHave you ever noticed that a lot of people simply aren’t comfortable in their own skin? Of course you have. I have too. I think it may be true of all of us at different times in our lives. Ultimately, however, we learn and we grow. So, most of us seem to find a level of self-acceptance allows us to have rewarding and successful lives.

What Authenticity Is

Frankly, though, there are some people who translate their discomfort into a quest for self-reinvention. Others, it seems, translate it into an obsessive concern with authenticity. Regarding being authentic, a friend of mine once made the interesting observation that “The people most concerned with being authentic, usually aren’t.” [Tweet This] Perhaps this sort of façade is what prompted Gapingvoid cartoonist, Hugh Mac­Leod, to call one of his e-books, Authenticity Is The New Bulls**t. In it, he lays out a pretty simple success philosophy:

“i. Work hard.

ii. Be nice.

ii. Have great product or service.

iv. Don’t suck.”

I like it. Yet, I think a rewarding and successful life can be even simpler, and may only take trying to be just a little better every single day. While I’d love to claim this insight as my own, it’s actually something I discovered quite by chance. So, let me tell you a little story…

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Putting Yourself “Out There”

Social MediaI know I can sometimes take myself too seriously. How about you? Yet, I actually do make an effort to “put myself out there,” on social media, by showing the fun parts of who I am. What about you? Do you put yourself out there? Are you willing to share who you are as a person? To show some of what you enjoy in life?

Let me explain why I ask.

The other day, I posted a LinkedIn update to a Chris Brogan post, leading with, “If you take yourself seriously, this is not for you. But it probably should be.” Part of the reason I said that was my sense that, as a social media platform for business people, this update might not fit LinkedIn.

Since posting it, I’ve been thinking about what made me think people take themselves so seriously. Part of it, is the nature of LinkedIn as professional platform. It’s where people present who they are as a business people. Yet, I also realized that besides sharing their experience and a summary of what they do, there was something else contributing to my sense of their seriousness. Then it hit me. I realized it came from their “passion” statements.

By passion statements, I mean the way people prop up their image by saying what floats their professional boat. You know, statements like,  “I am passionate about…

  • Helping my clients get that loan…
  • Empowering others to have their say…
  • Achieving growth for businesses…
  • Building customer engagement.”

When I see these statements in profiles, I often think, “But what are you silly about?” No, seriously!

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