Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Facebook Addiction

Have you tried Facebook yet?

I’ve been on Facebook for a couple of months now and it is time for me to write something about it in this blog. After thinking about the Facebook phenomenon for quite some time I have to admit that the allure of Facebook for me is that I can be a voyeur and an exhibitionist at the same time. (Get your mind out of the gutter here… while I explain.)

When you’re on Facebook you ‘collect’ friends. At last count I had 88 people on my friend’s list. Honestly, many of them are not ‘friends’ per se but more so acquaintances. However, Facebook doesn’t have any tools that discern the level of friendship you have with someone on your list, so ‘friends’ is what everyone is called. Now these 88 people have Facebook accounts and almost anything they ‘do’ on Facebook gets streamed into a news feed that I can monitor. So every time one of my friend’s joins a group, posts a photo, comments of someone’s wall, post’s a note, charges their status, etc., I can be notified. Now do you see what I mean by being a ‘voyeur’? I can ‘watch’ what all these people are doing on Facebook. So with little effort using Facebook, I can take notice of the fact that my friend Leo was dejected that the Toronto Maple Leafs missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs without even talking to him in real life (*grin*).

So that’s the ‘voyeur’ part of the equation… what about the ‘exhibitionist’ part. That comes into play because I understand that this information sharing on Facebook is a two-way street. I know that if I put a picture of myself on Facebook that all my friends will have access to it. For example, they’ll know I went to that party last weekend if I put the pictures on Facebook. So it’s a way for me to broadcast news to my friends (and acquaintances) in a global shotgun-like fashion.

So you might ask ‘are these the only ‘pay-offs’ when using Facebook?’ No. Here’s a list of ‘payoffs’ that I feel are addicting people to Facebook.

  1. You can find long-lost friends. For example, I found a cousin of mine who I had lost touch with. Now I can ‘watch’ his Facebook-life and interact with him on there easily, despite being hundreads of kilometers apart. Big Pay-off.

  2. You can feel popular. For example, I’m in a race. I’m in a race with my wife to see who can find the most friends on Facebook. Every time someone asks to be your friend on Facebook or every time you ask for someone’s permission to add them to your friend-list and they say ‘yes’, you get a pay-off. This tangible endorphin-loaded shot of ‘I’m popular’ courses through your veins. Pay-off.

  3. You can feel loved. For example, you can feel the love come right through the computer screen when a friend of yours posts a photo on their Facebook that includes you in the picture and then tags it with your name. Your smiling face is now found on someone else’s Facebook photo album and there’s often a nice caption to the photo saying how great/fun/happy your are, or at least were, when the photo was taken. Another example happen to me when I was sick with a cold the other week. I updated my status to explain my illness and a friend of mine spent an actual real-life non-virtual American dollar to send me a virtual Kleenex Box Gift on Facebook. She sent me a virtual gift on Facebook to cheer me up. I felt the love. Pay-off.

  4. You can use Facebook as a type of event-invitation software. You can create a real-life event such as ‘party at my place’ and then invite a sub-set of your Facebook pals to it. They get an event notice and they can RSVP directly on the personalized Facebook event page. Much easier (and more fun) than a long series of emails and/or phone calls. Pay-off.

  5. You can pipe your blog’s RRS feed directly into Facebook. So if you are already a blogger, you can integrate your efforts with Facebook. Now all your Facebook pals will be advised when you publish new blog postings. Pay-off. (Now if Facebook could do the same integration with Flickr then that would be a big Pay-off to the photographers of the world.)

  6. You can join groups of like-minded people. There are many social groups on Facebook. For example, the local watering hole that I frequent has a group. So not only can I interact with the regulars in person at the bar, but I can also embarrass them virtually by putting funny pictures of them online on Facebook. Pay-off!

So there’s a few pay-offs that I can think of. One point I haven’t touched upon that is certainly giving Facebook momentum is that you can do all of the above with great ease. Facebook is dirt easy to use. The interfaces are intuitive, the system is very reliable technically and the functions do what you think they do. So kudos to the Facebook team…. this social software is definitely giving MySpace a run for its money.

Do you use Facebook? Can you think of a Pay-off I haven’t listed above? Do you have an ideal for using Facebook in an educational setting? The readers of this blog would love to hear any comments you might have about these issues. Click ‘comment’ below. Oh and I almost forgot… do you consider me a ‘friend’ or ‘acquaintance’, if you do please add me to your Facebook friend list. I want to win this race I have with my wife HAHA!


Anonymous said...

Great post Eric you had some excellent points I had not yet thought of such as the link to long lost friends and the invitation stream. The race is on!
Erin (your wife :))

Anonymous said...

What is the payoff for the founders of Facebook?

Eric said...

As with most social software on the web, the payoff for the founders is cold hard cash ($$$) generated from advertising revenue or from user fees (One example of a user fee is the pay for use User Polls).

Anonymous said...

Im like so obsessed... i think its gaining knowledge on other peoples lives without them knowing! I log in so many times a day its disgusting, im droppin behind in my academic work, and i even log on using my phone (how sad), i just can't help but log on. Ive recently cancelled my myspace, but i could never do that with facebook... Well I guess that being addicted to facebook is good but if you have different things that you are addicted to just let me know.
Suffering from an addiction. This website has a lot of great resources and treatment centers.