Are you on Facebook?

Zuckerberg’s social behemoth was founded in 2004. Eight years later (as of June 2012) Facebook now hosts 955 million users. To put that into perspective, Facebook’s “population” ranks third in the world, right behind China and India. It includes as many people as the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, and Canada, combined.

So never mind my question; you’re probably on Facebook. Even many grandparents I know have given this Facebook thing a try.

The first time you log in, our “join,” you’re greeted by nine simple words:

Connect and share with the people in your life.

This is the stated purpose of Facebook. This may or may not be what Facebook is to you. Which led me to a revelation:

I have a Facebook Philosophy.

We all do, in fact. So do you. A philosophy is “a theory or attitude held by a person or organization that acts as a guiding principle for behaviour.”

What is Facebook to you? Why do you use it? How do you use it? How often? Your real answers to these questions form your Facebook philosophy. Facebook is probably more than one thing to you, but here are twelve Facebook Philosophies that many people hold. And while it’s going to be tempting to laugh and snort and say, “Oh, that’s totally Bob, he does that all the time,” it’s probably more important that you start by looking in the mirror.

  1. Diary. Some people feel compelled to record calorie counts, shoelace breakages, bowel movements, you name it. Every. Single. One. Flush. Repeat.
  2. Tool. Facebook is a means to an end, whatever end that may beโ€”all the way from social planning to cyber-stalking to sales.
  3. Community. Facebook is what Mark Zuckerberg says it is: Connecting and sharing with the people in your life.” All your FB friends are people you know personally, so you turn down friend invites from strangers or even people on the fringe of your world.
  4. Mission Field. Facebook is a place to post pictures of Christian puppies with Bible verses. Or, for some (like me) a place to share thought-provoking truths hoping to engage in dialogue.
  5. Market. Facebook is an untapped resource, a billion starving customers waiting to devour your products if you can just get their attention.
  6. Scrapbook. Facebook is where you post all your photos, personal and otherwise, because you’re sure everyone has nothing better to do than scroll through thirty golden shots of you bathing your dog.
  7. Platform. Facebook is a place to network, to build a tribe, to become known so you can extend your reach. It’s your personal or business website.
  8. Distraction. Facebook is a welcome numb-down, a great time-waster used to eat up company time or forget your real life worries so you don’t have to turn to drinking.
  9. Playground. Facebook is a great getaway where you can browse interesting quotes, keep up with people, and have a few laughs.
  10. Bragging arena. Facebook is a perfect way to post stuff you’re proud of because after all, people should know.
  11. Necessary evil. Facebook is a stupid waste of time but everyone is on it so you have to sell your soul and use it just to keep up.
  12. Social outlet. Facebook is the fairy land where I can feel social without having to take face-to-face social risks. Clicking “like” a few times a day means I’m a nice person who cares.

Your Facebook Philosophy will guide your behaviour on Facebook. It’s also likely that you started with one philosophy, and picked up another few along the way.

Newsflash: Mark Zuckerberg (and now an army of shareholders) are making money off of us. Gobs and gobs of it. He wants us to use Facebook, true, but even more, he wants Facebook to use us.

Cha-ching.

I think it’s important to know why we use Facebook so we can become aware of what we’re doing. The second step would be to ask ourselves, “Am I okay with my current Facebook Philosophy? Is it healthy? Do I need to make or adjust some rules for myself so that I don’t slip from using Facebook to Facebook using me?”

Tomorrow I’m going to show you why this matters on a personal level.

So… which one or two philosophies resonate most with you? What’s your Facebook Philosophy? Have I forgotten any?