The circus of facebook
I felt I should join…. the statistics said I should. I had quit successfully before with no withdrawal symptoms whatsoever, but those kind people at ‘Facebook’ kept my details, so if I ever wanted to start the habit again, I was simply a click away…
My head said I should. As a social media insight… And certainly the activity of consumers and brands on such sites are vitally important to my day job. And with Facebook reporting earnings of $1.51bn against last year earnings of $512m they are clearly doing something right and demonstrating global appeal.
However after a couple of weeks my initial thoughts are- there’s some complete bull being posted…
Examples… I’m not interested that it’s a sunny day and you’re taking Oscar* for a walk!… I’m not interested that you have been upgraded to business class and are now in the BA Lounge sipping champagne!… I’m not interested how you think Aspen snow is better than St Anton snow!… and I’m not interested you are having lunch at The Ivy today and share a map, just in case I didn’t know where it was!..
As for Facebook profile pictures or cover photo’s. If it’s your profile, why have a picture of your children? or you clinging onto your husband?, or sitting at the wheel of someone else’s sports car?…
I get the scenario of family or friends on the other side of the world and Facebook as a vehicle to keep in touch at all levels- from the serious to the frivolous. And how wonderful it is for that.
I’m pondering the ‘why’ for mundane posts and what motivates us all?…(I’m guilty myself I guess on other social platforms.)
I think joining Facebook initially is with genuine intentions to keep family and friends in all corners of the world informed. To simply stay ‘connected’- and that’s it.
But we humans get sucked in, and things like voyeurism and oneupmanship then enters the fray… and a ‘personal presentation’ agenda can kick in, one of, “Look at me, and what a wonderful life I’m living!”… As one user described it to me, “I have my Facebook life, and I have my real life”. I’m sure a psychologist would have something to say about what this represents. I would be interested to hear from anyone qualified in this field? Or maybe they will say I’m developing into an old misanthrope (I hope not!).
I certainly see very few posts saying, “I’m having a crap day”, “this rain is depressing me”, “I miss you”, or “I’m scared”… Honest emotional stuff, that we all experience at some point. Instead the only non-bigging-it-up posts appear to range from Facebook as a platform to remind you of your friends birthday’s, to Daily Mail-like sensationalism… “Johnson & Johnson finally admits- our baby products contain cancer-causing chemicals”.
And I sense there is a need to post regularly, like some addiction… hence the dog walking, lunch venue, or video of a cat doing a back-flip.
Are we in the future (or even now) going to undertake life experiences, simply so we can post them? In a virtual-fuelled world, real and engaging experiences are becoming more and more important- and that’s extremely relevant in the brand world I live in.
But have we stopped being really true to ourselves? Can an experience only be awesome! when shared with thousands and counting the ‘likes’, rather enjoyed by you and those with you at that precise moment in time?
I’m concerned… I think wondrousness, and both happy and sad experiences can be had, captured, and stored in your memory, and be retold many many times over- and they don’t all need to be ‘posted’.
I remember working on a project in Qatar, where the brief was to capture the ‘cultural essence of Qatar’ (for the Qatari Royal Family and Qatar Museum Authorities) and it was fascinating that historically, Qatari stories, customs and culture were past down through generations, largely by word of mouth, not necessarily recorded as other civilisations would.
Which made me think. I feel from my own perspective, there is something beautifully simple about that. I also think a little embellishment of a story is ok!, in the context of the fisherman’s tale (about the one that got away), which gets more entertaining the more times it’s retold (as the fish gets bigger and bigger).
I aim to balance my online addictions with reality, and keep many personal experiences as personal, and shared with family and friends around the open fire. Life’s adventures, moments, and escapades, while keeping them genuine and real…
* this name has been changed in the interest of protecting the identity of the pet