Since I am of a certain age (I was born when Ike was President of the U.S.), I have friends that refuse to engage on Facebook. While that is of course their right I cannot understand or even accept their reasoning behind not engaging in something that more than 600 million people find relevant. There are obvious benefits to being ‘connected’ on Facebook. And yes, there are privacy issues and permission problems that are ongoing. But for me, and for most people I presume, the benefits far outweigh the detriments.
I suspect this situation is not all that different than when the telephone first came into popular use. Limited use of the telephone occurred starting with its invention by Alexander Graham Bell (or at least attributed to him) in the 1870s. Usage increased rapidly in the 1880s and 1890s as phone technology developed and central exchanges were built. It’s not difficult to imagine that there were many people that said and felt ‘why would I need to talk to anyone over a wire?’ And there were probably those that felt telephones would prove to be intrusive, (as anyone that has ever taken a telemarketing call during dinner can appreciate) and at times a general nuisance. But because the benefits far outweighed the detriments the telephone not only survived, it flourished. And today people carry telephones around with them wherever they go and they are nearly always ‘on’.
Is Facebook the new telephone? I am here to argue that in fact that’s exactly what it is. Telephone conversations are necessary at times but time consuming and cumbersome. It’s mostly a one-to-one dialog as opposed to the more open platform of Facebook. Don’t go thinking that I drank the Marc Zuckerberg Kool-Aid (I haven’t) or that Facebook has paid me to write this post (like that would ever happen).
Our children use Facebook the way party lines were used over fifty years ago. They post photos, music, share articles, suggest friends, have conversations and interact faster and more than Mr. Graham Bell could have ever imagined. Ask any teenager if they’d rather speak with someone or text them over their mobile device. I think we all know the answer to that one.
So for my friends who feel that they are making some sort of statement by not engaging in Facebook’s communication platform the only statement they are making to me is that they prefer to remain unconnected to the world and in so doing are Luddites. Since the fastest growing Facebook segment is people over 40 these Facebook holdouts are truly in the minority. My prediction is that eventually they will succumb and then wonder why they didn’t join in sooner.
It’s over folks – Facebook has won the game of connecting the world. You are either with the program or on the outside looking in.