From time to time, I provide my readers with a little insight into my interior life by listing some of my favorite things, and some of my pet peeves (well, I probably do this quite often, but I just don’t give it the title). I recently came upon a new pet peeve, and when I experienced it, I thought to myself, “This is my new pet peeve, and it bothers me so much that I am going to write about it.” What is it? People who refuse to create a Facebook account, and then are proud of it.
One quick note: Some folks take me way too seriously. I wrote this with a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor and a smile on my face.
Let me first state why I think Facebook is important, and why everyone should be on it. If I were to ask you today, in business or in personal life, can I have your email address so that we can stay in touch, or so that we can close the business deal, you would be handicapped in professional or personal life if you responded, “I don’t have an email address. I don’t check it at all.” Why? Because email has become a standard source of communication, and especially for business purposes. Gone are the cute poems, pictures and videos of the 2000s. It is now just a functional tool for all communication. But it no longer is very personal. We have become weary of using our business emails lest our employers snoop, and our email boxes are so littered with spam and work that we ignore optional ones, or just delete them without even reading them (also a pet peeve of mine, but I won’t go there today).
I get the impression that some people think that Facebook is optional. That it’s like Friendster or Myspace. And who has time for Myspace these days unless you are a garage band or a bored 18 year old? Let me gently suggest that Facebook is not like these other online services. You can do without Twitter. But you can’t do without Facebook. It has become the standard tool for personal communications, and now is even becoming a tool for business communication as well. If you’re not on Facebook, it’s like saying, “I don’t use email.” I respect your space and life, but I also like to be able to communicate easily and efficiently with the people in my life. There are 500 million of us on Facebook, so why do some folk opt out of it?
The four top excuses for not using Facebook are these:
1) “I don’t have time.” Ok, I know that I am single and don’t have a life, even though I work 12-14 hours per day and then visit with friends in the evenings. I am busy too. But there are these new devices in the 21st century called Smart Phones, or Blackberries, Iphones and Droids. They all allow you to check Facebook, post to Facebook and delete from Facebook while sitting in a waiting room, sitting on the toilet, or heaven forbid, sitting in traffic. Yea, even while sitting in church. You don’t have 5 or 10 minutes a day to communicate with people who want to communicate and share with you? And it’s so much more efficient in terms of time than using the phone or spending an hour over coffee. I’m not suggesting that face time is unimportant, but it is nice to keep up with friends all over the world that I can’t do lunch with today. Some people actually do care about you and want to communicate with you. Give them the chance. If nothing else, just check your messages and event invites, and maybe your birthday reminders, and sign off. I guarantee you that you will get less personal emails as a result, so it’s not like you are adding something to email but rather substituting it.
2) “I want to protect my privacy and don’t want people up in my business.” This excuse always causes me to ask the question, usually in my head, “So what are you trying to hide?” I am not asking you to post your whole life on Facebook. I just want you to have a profile that you check regularly so we can communicate with you in a more efficient way than a phone or text message. One of my political friends refuses to have a site because he is scared that people will tag him in pictures and post to his profile. I keep reminding him, “T, they are posting the pictures of you anyway. You just don’t know what they are posting because you don’t have a profile.”
There are plenty of online articles about Facebook privacy settings, or you can read the entries on the blog of yours truly. To adjust privacy settings, simply go to “account” on the top right corner of the Facebook page, “Edit friends” to create a list called “professional,” and then go to “Privacy Settings” and set the privacy accordingly. Or when you post a status message that you don’t want your professional group to see, simply click on the key lock beneath the status message and prevent that group from seeing your posting. It’s that easy.
3) “Just send me an email.” As more and more of us … 500 million of us .. use Facebook for personal communication and for event invitations, it would be great if you would join so that we all can use the same means of communication. I’m having a birthday party in a couple of weeks, and there is a friend that I would like to invite. But the invitation is going out to a considerable number of people in my friend circle, and he’s the only one that doesn’t have Facebook. I can send out a mass event invite to every person except him … and in my cantankerous old age, I refuse to send him a separate email — just out of principle. The rest of us are communicating by Facebook, so it’s time to join. It’s much easier for sharing birthdays, events and personal organization than email or other forms of communication. I suppose that my friend thinks he has a good life by not being on Facebook, but he’s going to miss out on a little bit of mine because he won’t join. Again, my point here is not to suggest that he has less of a life than me, or that he is ignorant — he just simply is missing out on a tool everyone else is using.
4) “I don’t want people I don’t like to find me, then I have to accept them as friends.” Actually, you don’t have to allow your ex or your boss to see your whole Facebook life. There is an “ignore” button. But even if you do accept them, just add them to a “restricted” friends list so that they see no more of your profile than your basic contact information. It really isn’t hard — it’s just a matter of controlling Facebook like you spend time organizing your address book. In fact, Facebook is becoming the permanent online address book that will even update your phone numbers and addresses if users allow it. But you always have control over who you add, and who can even see you.
There is no doubt that I’d rather join my friend Deana in Texas for lunch, or my friend Dorothy in New York City for dinner. But I can’t. What I can do is share my life, and keep up with theirs, through Facebook. Because of Facebook, they have become dear friends to me again though we are separated by years and by miles. Does it matter? You bet it does. They both have been incredible support systems during this past year of my life. And we all need support systems and people outside our immediate friendship circle.
Thanks for allowing me to share my pet peeve. Maybe it helped you to vent too. I think I’ll go post a picture of my friend right now on my Facebook profile — and I’ll give it the name: “T:The Dark Side”. He’ll never know until he runs for president in 2024, because he won’t join Facebook. Ok, I won’t. But it sure felt good to think about it.
Thank you for listening, and see you on Facebook (and if I don’t know you, you’re going into the “restricted” friend list ha). And please don’t delete me.