Facebook PROS And Cons
Posted by Charlie Recksieck
Part 2: The Good Stuff
This wasn't even a particularly well-researched position or something I took a lot of time on. I think a lot of us can rattle off a list of things we don't like about Facebook fairly quickly and contemporaneously.
Nonetheless, nothing gets this big without providing a value to people in a big way. It's easy to take potshots at Amazon, Starbucks or McDonald's. Whoever is on top is a natural target. But they succeeded for a reason. Amazon's dedication to killing it in customer service for 20 years helped them as much as timing and funding. Starbucks started out making great coffee accessible (until they intentionally dropped the quality because they correctly sussed that we wouldn't care or notice). And as Jim Gaffigan said about McDonalds, "Has your mother ever made anything as good as a McDonald’s fry? Not even close."
Turning My Argument Around
This is admittedly extraneous and a little off topic for me to throw in. But I feel like me starting with 1200 critical words of Facebook last week and now pivoting to what I like about Facebook is a little bit of a copout. That said, life is not black and white.
It reminds me of a song I'd like you to know about. It's "Suicide" from Bobby Gaylor, released in 2000. In the song he starts by cynically listing the reasons why "you" should kill yourself. Frankly, a couple times he makes a good humorous point. Then about halfway through, the song swivels into musical swelling, uplift while listing dozens of beautiful things about life that "you" would miss, so you should stick around. That's what I'm trying to do a little with Facebook here in this second post - swing wildly from the negative to the positive. Anyway, regardless of what you think of my Facebook "Pro's" later on, I strongly encourage you to try this song.
The Good Stuff
Finding Old Friends - It's easy in life to lose touch with people. Facebook being ubiquitous enough for everybody to have an account gave me the ability to look up a childhood best friend Syd and a dear friend Meg from college whom I now regularly talk to and visit annually. These two relationships of mine simply would not be possible if it weren't for Facebook.
Check In Spot - If I want to check in on a friend, of course the best thing is to reach out to the friend. (I've had friends skip over telling me huge life news, assuming we all read or even see 100% of everybody's feeds and had to say, "No, I had no idea you were engaged.") But when you want to know a little thing like, "Are they back from Italy yet?", "What's her husband's name, again?", you can see things really easily.
Also, it lets us all "opt in" to learn things about our friends. Instead of getting the old school family Christmas letter, we can check in on our friends when we want, in our own time. Similarly, when your friend is in a band, you can voluntarily look at that Facebook Event, instead of being subject to a text blast or yet another email newsletter clogging up your inbox.
Reaching Out For Help, Innocuous Version - If you need a trusted recommendation for a plumber, a dentist, a hotel to stay in, crowdsourcing some of your decisions is really a great thing. Nextdoor has tried to occupy this space, although Nextdoor posts eventually seem to degenerate into an awful racist post about somebody seeing a black kid in the neighborhood.
Reaching Out For Help, Depression Version - This is the opposite number of the negative outside-looking-at-happier-people FOMO point I made in Part 1 of this article. There are legitimately lonely people in the modern world. We are definitely a little severed from meaningful in-person interactions with people in our community, simultaneous to being more digitally connected to strangers throughout the world.
If the internet and modern life has sent us all inward, Facebook posts at least are looking outward to other people in the world. For people suffering from depression, reaching out via a Facebook post literally can save their life. Just by saying troubling things out loud can have a therapeutic effect, not to mention the usual outpouring messages of support that come back on Facebook. It's a good thing.
Memories - When you're "the product" on Facebook and you've shared photos and experiences over the years, then Facebook will occasionally put the "7 Years Ago Today ..." screen in front of you with a reminder photo of friends on a vacation, a photo with your dog, etc. I haven't taken a deep dive into this algorithm though I'm sure it's based on FB being up into your psychological business. I'm a Facebook cynic but when I do check in my heart frequently gets a lift from seeing my old Golden Retriever once again.
Like-Minded Groups - This is a much better version of the 1990's and 2000's chat rooms and message boards. If you're into Rock Satire then there's a place for you. And the same goes for you if you love working on vintage Cadillacs, root for the Philadelphia Phillies, still love Bette Davis or just about any interest you can think of. The bad news is that there's also a place for you if you resent Mexicans, think that Blacks and Jews will replace you, etc. Sometimes for bad and usually for good, you can find your people there.
Advertising Opportunities - Since every interest or preference of Facebook's millions of users can be siloed off and categorized, it presents a dream scenario for intelligently targeted advertising. We have several clients using Facebook ads and to great effect. It's a dead heat between Google Ads or Facebook Ads for us as the most effective advertising and paid SEO (which has blown organic SEO out of the water as the way to grow on the web). Though we do advice Facebook Ads for lifestyle advertising and Google Ads for products or projects with a more high-tech bent.
Voluntary - For all of others and my complaining about the evils or pitfalls about Facebook, there's not a gun to anybody's head. Everybody there has made a choice to be there and more or less are all adults. Unless something is expressly harmful to people, it should have a right to exist where people can make their own consumer decisions. Although that doesn't mean that they shouldn't be regulated, which is a whole other article.
Expressing Themselves - People need an outlet. As we all spend time with our fellow humans a little less in 2022 than we did in 1982 or 1942, it's still an important part of living to be heard. We all want a little validation. I will close by saying that for every person who posts regularly on Facebook there's one fewer blog in the world and that's never a bad thing. (Yes, I get the irony of saying that on a blog.)