Facebook and You

After taking some time away from Facebook a couple months ago (and coming back), I realized some interesting trends from Facebook users. Basically, email is nonexistent for personal use, birthdays don’t exist outside of Facebook, and no one comments on other websites outside of Facebook. Do these trends demonstrate the new norm in today’s society, or perhaps the new norm among Facebook users that are on my Friends list? Honestly, I’m not sure. This is why I’m posting my observations to hear what you have to say.

  • EMAIL: What’s email? Many people live and breath from posting and commenting on Facebook, YouTube, and/or Twitter. They will notify family and friends of all their big events on Facebook. These are all great, but many people stopped emailing someone too. Somewhere in the last few years, it was decided that life was a soundbite and needed to be typed accordingly on Twitter and Facebook. I think that if you post that your family is expecting a child, gave birth, or you are going to be married, Facebook is a great follow up to your mass email. Seriously folks, start sending mass emails to everyone on your email list. Provide the details that will arrive in your friend’s and family’s Inbox so we can be sure to read it at our leisure. Facebook is only as good as someone actually checks his/her account…and if it’s not everyday, then your big announcement is lost in the weeds. I’m still a big email user. I’ve even gone through every one of my Facebook Friends and added their name and email address to my GMail account Contact List. When someone contacts me through the Facebook message system, I reply with a response to their email account, not their Facebook account. Also, using GMail, Outlook or another email service is so much better than anything Facebook has to offer in terms of an email system.
  • BIRTHDAYS: If you aren’t on Facebook, don’t expect much. I deliberately was not on Facebook this past August when my birthday came (I deleted my Facebook account for most of August). Let’s just say if you weren’t family, you weren’t throwing any birthday shoutouts my way because Facebook didn’t remind you. How did the other years look on my Facebook profile front page? A ton of birthday wishes just like you received. There are a couple points to think about here. Yes, I may have no friends, but I know better. It could be that no one actually documents/writes down people’s birthdays anymore and relies solely on Facebook. I actually have a ton of birthdays posted on our family Google calendar. Laura and I are emailed a notification of an upcoming birthday in advance in case we choose to send a greeting to the birthday boy/girl. Once a week, I also receive an email from Facebook saying which of my friends have a birthday coming up so that I can choose to email a birthday greeting.
  • COMMENTS: You like to comment on Facebook a lot. No. Seriously. A LOT. But how are you on other family and friend blogs/websites? I subscribe to a Blogs of my Facebook Friends and try to make it a point to provide a comment on their blog every so often. I think it’s good to provide direct feedback on the original source of information (not on Facebook where posts are just reposted). I know that our website (www.brettandlaura.com) receives 25 to 50 visits a day with a majority coming from Facebook users. How do I know? Google Analytics told me so and a lot more about our website visitors. Anyways, for all of those Facebook users visiting our website, only two per month will provide a comment. I don’t understand this one, but I’m still working on it.

Those are a few observations I’ve had with Facebook users. I continue to use Facebook but have a different use than most of users as I use it strictly as a RSS Feed for our website. Many though still live on it daily, hourly, or more. Can you separate yourself from it and still communicate with friends and family via email or phone calls? Do you venture out of the Facebook world and read other websites to provide comments? Do you have a calendar with birthdays on it?

I think this could be an interesting research study about how we do interact today and what would happen if Facebook was gone. What do we do? What’s the next big thing?

Do any of these observations resonate with you?

19 Replies to “Facebook and You”

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  10. Good points, Brett. I regretfully find myself in a flux of the ridiculousness of feeling unable or uninterested in keeping up with the details of all 100+ Facebook friends — yet taking it slightly personally when friends forget birthdays even with those handy Facebook reminders.

    Though I started blogging as a way to try to raise money for the AIDS Foundation, I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to get back to some creative writing / reflecting on experiences — and tread beyond the brief word limits on Facebook or Twitter. Having an “audience” of a few friends and family (and who knows who else) makes it that much more fun — and comments on a blog post make my day a thousand times more than a “like” (though those are nice gestures at that eternal search for approval too, I guess).

    I agree that nothing can replace a good ‘ole hand written letter — especially in cursive! And certainly I wish more people made and exchanged Christmas cards.

    Keep writing and posting — I love to hear what y’all are up to and see Ethan and Autumn grow up!

  11. Jason…I agree about writing letters. No doubt that writing letters should take precedent over emails. In my family, we still send birthday cards and thoughtful thank you letters. While in the Peace Corps, we use to write a lot of letters back home. I have a box of letters from correspondence with friends growing up. Email is killing this, along with cursive letter writing. Does anyone still learn this?

    My point about using email instead of the Facebook status box is to ensure that the big announcements are read by those you truly want to know.

    Also, you are correct sir in that no one uses RSS feeds. That I can’t understand because it is a more efficient way to read information you care about it.

    As always, your views are appreciated.

  12. Tough call, my dear Sir! Looking at my FB feed, 70% of the communications are via people’s mobile devices. It seems that many people are moving to the smart phone and the traditional web browsing by computer is changing.

    Upon reflection, your question is bigger than you ask here. It is about how you relate and how you interact. I remember 15 years ago articles about how email was killing the art of letter writing. When was the last time you wrote a letter? I have been thinking bringing it back and taking the time to write a letter which shows my investment in time and thus investment in that person. My point is that communication changes but the key is how to make it relevant and show you are truly invested in another person. Maybe the broadcast, scatter shot messages of social networking are not right to allow that relationship you wish to have with those you care about.

    For me, I want to be able to comment and respond in my RSS feed but we are not there yet. I do like short, real time messages about the minor stuff but do prefer a reasonable letter for the bigger events in life. Thank goodness for RSS but most people do not use them. When you publish something, you have to tell people you have done so. It makes things a challenge when communication is not serial. At least with the postal service, you have some reasonable faith that it was delivered and read.

    In closing, I hope that with services like Disqus and the next generation of open platforms, source information will be where the conversation takes place. However, for those I love and care about, I do think I will return to a pen and paper to show people I really care and took the time to say so.

  13. Great observations, Brett and thanks for sharing them. I’ve been contemplating the same kind of move for some time now and it’s good to know someone else has gone through the experience and survived.

    Having recently received birthday acknowledgments much greater in magnitude than I normally would have expected… and balancing that with normal FB ~noise~, I realized much as you did there’s some things FB is great for! These include Bday reminders (which I rely on heavily for easy and contextual contact), keeping up with the eJoneses on the latest viral offerings of YouTube and the like.

    The rest is indeed a lot of ~noise~

    -d

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