Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Facebook’s birthday leads to reflection

By: Cole Buergi, VP of Business Development, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

With this week marking the 10th anniversary of the launch of Facebook, it seems appropriate to reflect, from my perspective, on how the icon of social media has changed how we interact and communicate.
Many of the changes have been positive. I can stay in close contact with family and friends no matter where they live. This prevents me from having to do the sometimes arduous and, often times put off, task of writing a lengthy letter to update a family member or friend about the happenings in my life. It also removed the sometimes costly expense associated with making long distance calls. I can now simply go online to learn what’s happening with my family and friends and they can do the same to learn what I’ve been up to. 
Another benefit is I can provide insight on products that I’ve used, letting people know if I like them or not. These small tips may help others who may be considering purchasing or using something I’ve already tried.
Facebook is also great for learning more about things of interest. Most of the places I have an interest in have a Facebook page. I go to these sites to see what others are saying about the location, the accommodations, what’s fun and what’s not. To some extent, what I read on Facebook may influence where I decide to travel.
From a work perspective, Facebook has allowed me to successfully help my clients highlight their business.
The downside of Facebook, as I view it, is that it’s opened Pandora’s Box to several negative activities. Bullying has gone from the school play yard to cyberspace, preventing victims from having an escape from its harmful effects. It’s also removed some of the barriers of privacy we once had, albeit it’s each individual Facebook user’s choice to determine how much of our lives we chose to share.
Perhaps the greatest downside is not from Facebook alone but, from social media in general, is that we as a society are losing our ability to live in the moment. 
Look around the next time you’re out shopping, dining or simply spending time with friends. I’m sure you’ll quickly notice that many of the people you observe are doing something with their phones, either texting someone, searching the Internet or using a social media tool, instead of actually socializing with the people they are with. I often think to myself what is truly so important that people have to interrupt what they are doing with friends. 
Overall, I think Facebook is a great social media tool for many different reasons, both for personal use and for work. 
What do you think?  I’m curious to know what others think about how Facebook has changed how we communicate.

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