Monday, 29 July 2013 20:23

What is Facebook for?


Recently my brother told me he defriended a close friend of the family because of his overtly political posts on the social media website Facebook.  “That’s not what Facebook is for,” he said, that got me thinking.

The quick answer is that Facebook is for whatever you want it to be, but the longer answer can be a bit more in-depth.  It can be generational, I have noticed many of the younger set view Facebook as an 'older persons' network now - you know, those over seventeen!

Perhaps flying in the face of their ‘real-life’ personalities some people will be flamboyant and extrovert in their social media profiles.  Others are very guarded about what the reveal or how they manage the (ever changing) security settings on their most public presence.

Either way, the reality is that you are in control.  It is completely up to you (cyber-bullying aside) what you take or give to the social media world.  I thought I would play with the term ironic, and put the question out there.

For just about everybody, the attraction of the most famous social network of them all can mean a multitude of experiences.  And folks are spending differing amounts of time; I had one couple recently announce to their friends list that they were dropping off Facebook for the forcible future to “spend more time with their family”!

More than one respondent to my question said simply Facebook is for Procrastination.  Perhaps these people are still able to allocate time with the family.

Others were a bit more business/social orientated citing interest in groups and events as the main attraction.

One Facebook friend was a little reflective.  “People have become unfriendlier with Facebook” she said.  Looking back over her older posts she noticed… “People were WAY nicer when it first started!! I actually had friendly conversations on my wall with people who I hadn't seen in years.”  This friend lamented how the whole experience seems to have synthesised into a simple ‘social capital’ game in recent times.

Many users just like the opportunity to rant.  It can be a chance to let off steam on all sorts of topics, however politics is obviously a polarising place to venture, one that might see you defriended with the flick of a wrist.  On the flipside, interpretation can be a variable thing, I have heard of one friend defriending an inlaw because he misinterpreted a throwaway fun line about her child as 'bad parenting' and felt compelled to offer (unwanted) advice in a serious manner.

One friend seems to capture the Facebook feel from a certain generation point of view “Different strokes for different folks - Attention seeking, virtual social lives, tracking birthdays, email substitute, organising mates weekends at breweries,  sharing Jokes,” he said “Showing off Bubs and Pets, rants, Political statements, feeling connected for people unable to do so (eg: physcial disabilities)”

But I think the answers that were the most truthful were:

"Referrals for products and services from people you trust, or know the value you place on the referrer's knowledge of the requirements. Eg, games references, plumbers, mechanics, travel.... So useful and more personal than googling. You also then have wonderful reasons to catch up with people you may not otherwise."

“Stalking people and pictures of cats”

“Annoying people with puns”

And, the one that resonated with me the most “Sharing sh&% for giggles…”

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Mike Bantick

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Having failed to grow up Bantick continues to pursue his childish passions for creative writing, interactive entertainment and showing-off through adulthood. In 1994 Bantick began doing radio at Melbourne’s 102.7 3RRRFM, in 1997 transferring to become a core member of the technology show Byte Into It. In 2003 he wrote briefly for the The Age newspaper’s Green Guide, providing video game reviews. In 2004 Bantick wrote the news section of PC GameZone magazine. Since 2006 Bantick has provided gaming and tech lifestyle stories for, including interviews and opinion in the RadioactivIT section.

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