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Jun 27

Facebook 1.0 – What is it and do I need it?

As I sat down to figure out what I wanted to say about Facebook, I realized that this was such a large topic, I didn’t want to make the posting so long that no one would read it.  So, I’ve decided to talk about Facebook over several posts — most likely interspersed with other random thoughts that float into my head.

In the “old” days, most of my electronic communication was via email.  It was easy, quick (compared to using the US Mail) and typically you got a response quickly.  Then one day I got an email from this thing called Facebook.  My wife’s cousin was inviting me to join Facebook.  Being the geek that I am, I signed up, and really had no idea what it was or how to use it.

Then within a week, I got an email from a very dear high school friend that I had lost touch with.  She found me because in my Facebook information I put my High School name and a little bit of personal information. We hadn’t seen or talked to each other in over 30 years, but there she was… and we reconnected and have stayed in touch ever since.

That’s when I started to see some of the power of Facebook.  Then again, I’ve heard from a lot of folks that I never wanted to hear from again — and there I also saw the power of Facebook.

Facebook has quickly taken the world by storm.  But most people my age, tend to not have a Facebook account. They don’t see the value, and they think that if they have the account, they must tell the whole world what they’re doing every minute of the day. Granted, I do know some people that do that and quite frankly, I find it annoying.  That’s not what I do, nor would I suggest that anyone share every detail of their lives online, in any network. There’s things that are appropriate to share, and then there’s things make me wonder what goes through peoples’ minds sometimes.

However, I’ve found that by using Facebook smartly, it really does more than I thought it would.  I stay in touch with happenings among my family — including my kids.  That’s where I typically get to see pictures of my grand kids first (you really do need to send them to me, Kim) and pictures and what’s happening with my nieces and nephews and cousins and their  families scattered around the country.

I get to see what friends that I care about (and a few that I don’t care about) are doing and what’s happening in their lives.  I can easily ignore the things I don’t care about.  I can “unfriend” anyone that I want to when what they do is annoying or disturbing. About the only thing I can’t control is the advertising (which Facebook has become masterful at) .

The key to using Facebook, is to use it smartly.  The more time you spend setting up your account settings the better your experience can be. There’s nothing that says that everyone that sends you a friend request needs to be accepted as a friend. There’s no rule that says you have to share every intimate detail of your life out there.

You could easily set your account up with a fake name, and let your real friends know about that account.  You can limit who has access to what they see. In fact, before you set up an account, I strongly recommend that you go to www.gmail.com and set up a special email account that you can use for Facebook. That way, if you decide that you don’t want to use Facebook any longer you can just close that account at the same time as you close your Facebook account.

You don’t have to post anything out there… you can just browse and remain semi-anonymous.  In fact, I don’t recommend posting much at all.  There’s no need to share every picture or business that you come across on Facebook. There’s a time and place for what you post and you should make that post judiciously.  There’s not reason that the world needs to know that you and your family are going on vacation for the next 2 weeks.  Why let the entire Facebook community know that your house will be empty and “ripe” for the picking. So if you’re careful about how you use and interact with Facebook, you might be surprised at the amount of information easily accessible out there.

But before you can tell if you like it or not, you do need to have that account.  So go ahead, get that “extra” email account, set up a Facebook account and take a look around out there.  You never know who or what you might find that will make things just a little bit more interesting.

Next time we’ll talk about the privacy settings!  And remember, don’t be shy — share this on your Facebook wall and email the link to your friends!  The more the merrier!

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