Facebook for Marketing
I opened my first Facebook account in 2010, as a marketing tool when Into the Wilderness, came out. In those early days of social media, Facebook didn’t just connect me to long out-of-touch friends, but also to new readers.
As my network grew, I became caught up in the numbers, seeking and accepting connections. In 2014, I started an Author Page and began cross-publishing my blog posts, gaining an even wider audience. After a while, I found myself sucked into spending so much time growing my platform on Facebook that I wasn’t attending properly to the important activities of daily life, like writing and sleeping.
Facebook and the 2016 Campaign & Election
Then came the lead-up to the 2016 election, when my news feed was filled with alarming links and memes. I’d fall down the rabbit hole of articles, video clips, and comments – only sometimes leaving the platform to verify what was being passed as news. But not always.
News Black Out for Mental Health
At some point during the last election cycle, I started subscribing to the digital edition the New York Times for a better source of national and world news. But after the election, I took a mental health break with a news blackout as a survival strategy. About the same time, the Times installed a pay wall on their recipes. I paid it, finding comfort during dark times sharing good food with good friends face-to-face in real time.
As 2020 Approaches . . .
This election cycle, I’m already limiting how much news I ingest and vet the sources I get it from. If we’ve learned anything from the past five years, it’s that social media is not the same as sound journalism, and hopefully voters will consider the slant and veracity of all the sources of political information no matter where it comes from – including the New York Times.
Equanimity of Living Disconnected
From the beginning, I’ve been cautious about on-line security. My Facebook accounts are linked to a separate email, and I run software that performs real-time scans when I’m on-line. Nevertheless, I started receiving friend requests from sketchy men, and messages from friends warning me my Facebook account was hacked. I’ve added two-step authentication for another layer of security, and I change my password regularly. It helps, but it’s not a sure thing, and I’m starting to wonder if being on social media is worth the security risk. I know people who are not on social media, and I envy their equanimity from living disconnected.
And face it: Facebook is Old School in the world of social media. I’m also on Twitter, though I don’t tweet. I’m discouraged by the vituperative tone and mean-spirited tweets that pass as public discourse there.
Instagram is now the place to be, and I do have an Instagram account, but I only lurk. I know I’d reach a wider, younger, hipper audience if I posted photos that linked back to my blog, but just the thought of narrating my life in photos exhausts me. I’d rather live first hand, without a camera between me and my experience.
Whether my disenchantment is the result of my status as a digital immigrant – someone who came of age in the paper era, where instead of FaceTime I corresponded from abroad via ink on tissue-thin aerograms, or whether it’s a generational divide, and I just prefer the pace of reading language that evokes images I can picture for myself, I don’t know. I do know that I’m deeply tired of living on-line.
Additionally, that flurry of finding out where high school and college acquaintances live, who they’re married to, and how many kids they have, has long ended. It turns out that in most instances, there’s a reason we fell out of touch. At the same time, Facebook is a convenient way to keep abreast of closer friends’ lives, complete with photographs of their kids’ weddings, their travels, and their grandchildren. But this can also be done privately, by email, phone, snail mail and visits.
FOMO – FEAR OF MISSING OUT
There’s no question that Facebook makes it easier for readers to find me. But anyone can just ask Lady Google to bring up my website, which for me is the point of being on Facebook. Really, the only thing that’s stopping me from leaving Facebook is FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. And so I ask, Is Facebook necessary?
This post also appeared as a column in The Commons, an award-winning source for Community News and Views in Windham County.
Andy Lipnck says
Longtime fan, first-time caller!
Do I think Facebook is necessary? Yes and no. I share many of your views and experiences about Facebook. I joined in 2007 and didn’t have much interest in using it. That all changed when my band started using it as our primary means of promotion. At the time My Space (remember them!) was stagnated, but Facebook was growing and adding useful tools for our purposes. And this turned out to be my “gateway drug” to social media. I got hooked on responding to my friends’ posts with snarky or what I thought at the time would be witty comments. I’ve since rained in the temptation to post needless info or get pulled into the time-suck blackhole of reading everyone’s posts. I stay away from most things political but do keep up with some friends and post occasional photos.
So back to your question. Yes, I think Facebook and some other social media outlets are useful and in some cases necessary but not at the risk of shutting yourself in. I recently read how this is affecting millennials are lonely and have ‘no friends’ https://nypost.com/2019/08/02/1-in-5-millennials-are-lonely-and-have-no-friends-survey/ I hope that generation gains friendships as they get older.
Deborah Lee Luskin says
Love the “gateway drug” analogy! Thanks for your thoughtful comments. The takeaway: All things in moderation?
Andy Lipnck says
Yes, moderation is the cure though not a pill everyone wants to swallow.
Loved the question you posed and looking forward to your next post!
Rachel Keebler says
Thank you for writing this.
i also share trepidation about social media and have only occasionally gone to facebook (about twice a year – birthday season and Christmas.
I’m an entertainment addict and know I can get sucked in so I stay away .
i like to believe i am happier not spending that much time. My Mother had a saying she used when she was trying to curb our telivision use “Don’t you have something BETTER to do?”
Turns out Yes – I certainly do. Thanks, Mom! 🙂
Deborah Lee Luskin says
This is great! Now I’m going to channel Aunt Sue whenever I log in to social media!