I recently got a notification from Facebook informing me I’ve been a member for 10 years. In typical Facebook fashion it was a cutesy video that played through some select highlights from the last decade. After watching it through and laughing at some forgotten photos it got me thinking just how big a part of my life Facebook has become.
I wouldn’t call myself a heavy user – I don’t have swathes of friends, I don’t post every day and I certainly don’t spend my life scrolling through everyone else’s feeds. Yet Facebook does play a large part in my world and I would miss it if it were gone.
Beyond following my friends to keep up to date with them my use of Facebook comes down to five main things.
Social events. Be it a small poker night or a large, surprise birthday party, Facebook is the best place to organise it. You can easily see who is going, who isn’t, what people are wearing, what surprises are planned, etc. The list is endless but Facebook brings it all together so everyone can see and comment. Even after the event that discussion can continue both within the created event and on Facebook in general bringing those who couldn’t make the event into the fold
Checking in. Facebook’s location awareness (something that wasn’t an option back in the early days) means I can easily share what I’m up to and where I’m going. With the right group of friends you’ll get recommendations to do whilst there or inspire them to go out and try somewhere they might have otherwise missed.
Long distance friends. A few of my Friends have been lucky enough to move abroad in the time I’ve known them but thanks to the online world I can not only follow them and see what they’re up to but the conversations and jokes can continue.
Historical events. I’ve never kept a diary or been good at remembering past events. The ‘On this day’ feature means my decade’s worth of ramblings and posts are remembered for me and available should I want to look. I often find myself turning to my wife and saying “Wow, do you realise 6 years ago we were…”. This brings about real world discussions and can also make you look good when you ‘remember’ upcoming anniversaries 😉
Following my interests. Facebook is everywhere and you can now ‘follow’ just about everything. I use this feature to follow a number of sites that feature my hobbies and interests. If I’m honest I probably have nearly the same amount of those as I do friends but it makes Facebook a one-stop shop for me to catch up on everything that interests me. I can get the latest on the events of last Friday whilst also getting a quick tech\gaming\gadget news round-up.
The above all sounds very selfish but it is exactly these sorts of posts I want to see from my friends and family. I enjoy seeing their posts, interacting with them and learning a bit more about them whilst taking every opportunity to post a quick witted remark. It is our common shared interests and social events that bring us together as friends.
I’ve often said that social media is actually very personal despite the ‘social’ tag. It is exactly what you want to make of it. It is natural that users will start to pick and choose what they want to see, liking and following their interests. If politics is one of your main interests then this will largely be what your timelines are filled with. If your chosen friends are into politics but it isn’t quite for you then muting them or certain posts can slowly, over time, cater your feed to your tastes.
This is how I choose to use Facebook and whilst some might argue that means I live in a bubble not expanding my horizons, rarely do I get some downtime, pick up my phone and get angry at random posts or find the need to start my comments with “well, actually…”
Social media should augment your life, not be your life – it’s there to have fun with, to treasure memories and to create new ones. Don’t waste it with negative posts.