(or “The One SIMPLE REASON You Need to Be On Facebook”)
I’ve been thinking a lot about Facebook lately, and why it is so great. Not iPhone-great, but almost Wikipedia-great: it has changed the way I use the web, and my life in the real world is richer because of it. Also, I’ve been trying to get all my friends on Facebook. So this blog post is my attempt to convince my hold-out friends (Gretchen, Kelly & Brian, Chell, Greg & Nina!) Feel free to send it to the FB holdouts you know!
THE ONE SIMPLE REASON YOU NEED TO BE ON FACEBOOK: Facebook makes 90% of your friends much more present in your life than ever before. Seriously!
ALLOW ME TO EXPLAIN:
Most of you have a set of friends that you see often: you know what they are up to, how their love lives are going, what their life is like, what movie they just saw, what they are doing this weekend. You often know what they had for breakfast. You call them, they call you, you go out with them, they come over. Things are great. This is your circle of immediate, close friends.
But all of us have friends at circles farther out in our lives. There is the set of close friends that you don’t see as often as your immediate, close friends. There is the set of close friends who live far away. And then there are the good friends who simply aren’t close friends. And so on & so on, there are circles of friends going farther and farther out. I’d imagine that 90% of my friends are in one of those outer circles.
Connecting you to these people is where Facebook really shines:
At its simplest, Facebook is a one-stop update center on all the people in your life. You check in with Facebook, and through FB’s “status updates”, you see at a glance what all your friends are up to. How they are feeling, what made them laugh or cry, what they ate and what’s on their minds. Basically, you see whatever little snippet of their lives they feel like sharing at the moment. And, if you want more than the default one sentence or so, just click on their profile and read through a sort of “stream of existence” of their lives. It’s a good thing. This allows you to keep up with many people that you don’t interact with as often as you’d like, and it allows them to keep with you. I love this.
But even cooler than this this relatively simple view into your friends’ lives is the fact that Facebook fosters interaction with these friends on all scales from simply voyeuristic (looking at Tom’s pictures from his trip to Africa) to electronic interaction (“Hey Tom, nice pictures – what was your favorite animal from your safari?”) to the physical (“Hey, I didn’t know you’re were going to that lecture about African megafauna – me too! Let’s meet up there!”). For the majority of my friends, this has allowed me to stay more in touch and do more stuff with more of them than ever before. I really really love this.
So that is the big reason: Facebook makes your interactions with your non-immediate friends much much richer. So sign up already (& if you are a friend of mine, go ahead and friend me so I can start keeping tabs on you! 🙂 If you are being forwarded this by a friend, please do us all a favor and sign up already. Networks get better and better the more people that are on them. We miss you guys!
There are a LOT of other reasons FB is great that I didn’t hit on, just because this post is too big for its target audience as it is, but here some of them are in brief:
- Facebook is most people’s blog (ok, micro-blog)
This is a slightly different ramification of the “status update”: Most people should NOT have blogs and don’t 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they don’t have interesting lives, but rather, how many people have the time AND the interest AND the ability to write compellingly? It’s a small fraction.
On the other hand, most everyone has simple tidbits from their lives that would be interesting to you and can (and usually will) jot them down. Facebook is great at this & aggregates all of your friends’ updates on your main page, so you don’t have to check all over the interwebs. Just log on. In fact I think for many of us, FB has rapidly become one of the first things we do when we get online. It’s all about checkin’ in & seein’ what’s up.
- Facebook is the new <Insert Web Service here>
For a variety of reasons, Facebook is quickly supplanting a remarkable set of web & internet services:
- Facebook is the new Evite
- Facebook is your friends’ Flickr
- Facebook is your friends’ Digg (?) a good web clipping service
- Facebook is your friends’ YouTube
- Facebook is your school’s alumni newsletter
- Facebook is a decent chat application, that all your FB friends are already on
- Facebook is a decent mail service, without the SPAM
Also I should note, that FB is better for many things than Twitter, though the status updates are similar. The one-stop nature of it, and the fact that it has (& probably always will have) a larger number of users than Twitter is a big deal.
- Facebook is not Friendster or MySpace.
After the slow-as-molasses debacle of Friendster, and the painful ugly-stick that was MySpace, I had to be dragged to Facebook too. But the implementation details make it far more pleasant then either of those ever were and it’s larger network effect* makes it much much much more useful than either of those services ever were. Saying “well, they are all social networks” is like saying a Walkman is the same thing as an iPod.
- FaceBook comes in handy for suprising things…
There are a couple of seemingly minor things that make FB compelling as well:
The most obvious is birthdays. FB keeps a little handy list on your main page of upcoming and current birthdays. And on your birthday, you get flooded with the birthday love from your friends. It’s niiiiiice.
Another surprise is breakups. I dread having to let everyone know that a relationship hasn’t worked out. But if you choose to mark yourself in a relationship and choose to unmark yourself when it ends, FB subtly lets all your friends know. During my last breakup, I thought it was going to be horrible, but in fact, it saved a lot of the awkward “So how’s your GF” questions and also I got a lot of really touching notes from my peeps. Either way it is optional, but I was surprised at how worthwhile I found it. And as an aside, there is always the “Is she still dating that loser? No? Really? Excellent! POUNCE!” effect 🙂