Yeah, this is one of those posts that is purely observational and analytical – nothing about a new soft drink, a quirky website, or even a humorous anecdote that points out some stupid act on my part. Just thinking.
I am still cogitating my way through this whole facebook explosion. At first I thought it was weird because the mainstream populace has discovered the super-secret hideout for us cool kids, but it really has nothing to do with that. It is a game-changer as it applies to how we, as citizens, behave.
We have all heard tales of people getting sucked into the vortex of this unreal, reality-TV version of our lives, but time-wasters on the Internet are nothing new. Facebook, however, offers a level of connectivity that previous Web 2.0 and social networking sites have failed to achieve.
Think of the sheer volume of former classmates, neighbors, friends, associates, etc. that are finding it easier to reconnect. That reconnection is the power here. The ability to be friends with people that time and distance have removed is huge. Sure, you could do extensive searches online and find a small percentage of them if you were skilled enough online, were diligent in your pursuit, and more importantly – if they too, were a nominal player in the online community.
I have always been a breeze to find on the Internet – I have had big flashing neon billboards attesting to my existence long before the web existed. I was a known entity in the bulletin board (BBS) community, heck – even back to the text-based institutional days of academic-only Internet. The problem was never finding the bleeding edge nerds of the world – it has always been about finding the Joe Six-Pack, Jane Soccer-Mom, and every other mainstream person. Facebook has changed that.
When I introduced my mother to facebook a few months back, she was a pioneer in her demographic cohort. I assumed she would have some fun, but knew she would show me the real uses for facebook – the mainstream uses. It’s not about rocket science – it’s not about the latest software – it’s not even about access to information. It is entirely about fun.
That fun has taken many forms and it is evident by the evolution of the site itself. The game playing, which was seen as an annoyance to most of the hard-core techies, has turned into the 800lb gorilla for the average user. The ability to reconnect however, has shocked even me. In a matter of a few days, my mother had connected with dozens and dozens of relatives around the country as well as HER old high school friends. She is nearly 60 years old.
Sure, as Aunt May says, “With great power comes great responsibility,” and for that reason, I am scared about how facebook could totally screw up what they have going in favor of a payday, but will enjoy it while it lasts. If you are not taking advantage of facebook to reconnect with important people that have fallen out of touch – now is your chance.