The Pros and Cons of Facebook

At a recent gathering of people known and unknown to me, the topic of Facebook came up.  A man I don’t know sniffed dismissively, “I prefer to conduct my communication in PERSON!”  Oh, you never, ever use email? Interesting! 

Despite its insane popularity – its inventor is Time’s Man of the Year for 2010 – there are still a lot of holdouts, which is perfectly okay, of course.  But it’s the ignorance that sometimes surrounds their reasons that irks me.

1.  “I don’t want people from public school tracking me down.”  Then adjust your privacy settings.  You can make it so that you absolutely cannot be found on Facebook and the only way for anyone to know you are even there is if you reach out to them. 

2.  “I prefer to see people in person.”  Facebook doesn’t replace getting together with people who matter to you.  What I love about it is keeping up with the lives (and families) of those I otherwise wouldn’t get to see on a regular basis.  Facebookers don’t suddenly live in seclusion, communicating only through the website! 

3.  “The site takes my information and sells it to companies.”  This is true, it does.  Again it’s up to you to be vigilant about what you set as “private” and “public”.  It amuses me that because I listed NASCAR’s Carl Edwards as someone I admire, I’m regularly exposed to little ads on the right hand side of the screen for Carl Edwards photo books and other Edwards stuff I would never, ever buy.  But I have also noticed things that do interest me and I’ve purchased ads on Facebook and they’re not only cost effective but the demogaphics of those who see them can be narrowed to exactly who you want to reach.  It works both ways.

It’s not for everyone but any time I see someone raise their chin in the air and sniff that they’re above it, it gets my goat.  And I’m really tired of having to go and get my goat back.   I’m not recruiting for Facebook but it’s insulting to those of us who use it wisely to be considered mindless schleps who live like hermits and only communicate online.

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