“Dad… you need to be on Facebook.”
“Why?!” said I.
“Then we could be more intouch,” she said.
“But I email and we text and we talk on the phone,” said I.
“This is different. It’s like we will be living in the same house again and you will know more about what I am doing and you will be able to meet more of my friends this way,” she said.
“Blimey!” I thought.
Anyway that was three years ago, when my daughter was in living in London and like an obedient father, I did as I was told and signed up to Facebook, albeit with some reluctance, as from what I had heard this stuff seemed better suited to the younger ones.
I am not going to tell you how to get started with Facebook; it’s easy enough to do. Like most things with the internet, just follow the steps and you are done within minutes. And yes, it’s free to sign up! Go to www.facebook.com and the first page of the site will get you started. Facebook is a ‘social networking’ site. With over 250 million unique monthly visitors, Facebook is more than twice as popular as its closest rival, MySpace. Overall it’s the fifth most popular internet site in the world.
But what is social networking anyway?
According to Wikipedia, it’s... “a social structure made of individuals (or organisations) called ‘nodes’, which are tied (connected) by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige”.
Phew! Is that what it is? Okay, shorter definition: “a meeting of like-minded people”. Hang on a minute. I have been doing that all my life with the numerous clubs I have belonged to and friends that I have! This social networking thing is not new after all! The new bit is how it’s done – via the internet and from the comfort of your own home, office, or on the bus, train, etc.
I guess Facebook’s strapline says it all: “Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life”.
So how does it do that and why should you bother? And do you really even want to ‘connect’ more than you do at the moment?
Well, I can tell you it is worth the effort of becoming a Facebook member, but like most things in life, the more you put into it the more you get out of it.
The positives (useful bits):
• Being on the same ‘wavelength’ as my kids – a communication form they enjoy has got to be a positive, as they are more willing to share what’s going on in their world.
• Finding long lost mates from my school days and early working life – gosh we have not changed a bit!
• Photo posting options. This is such a positive and far better than receiving huge attachments from friends by email, and actually results in less clutter in my inbox overall!
• Having a genuine feeling of being more part of the lives of people I care about through better contact.
• Extending my network of friends – I wonder if the concept of ‘six degrees of separation’ is now more like four degrees, or even less with internet social networking!
• Being notified when friends are online. The negatives (not-so-useful bits):
• Having notifications about daft things that might be going through the mind of a slightly daft contact – come on, I am not really interested that a friend of friend has just burnt the scones and is feeling devastated.
• Being invited to join groups that my friends would clearly know I would not be interested in.
• Being rejected as a contact – okay, I need to get over that not everybody likes me!!
• Can occupy a lot of time and interrupt your time online. (Although this may be just a man thing – we can’t do more than one thing at a time!)
So for me (a middle-aged Kiwi male) Facebook gets a pass mark. It’s a useful addition in my life, and it’s not just for the young ones – we all can socialise in a networking way.
So if you haven’t done so already – get to it.