Today, I would like explore the face … the space … the place … a web site that reveals all we are or might want to be. And on this incredible journey through cyber space, I peel off the layers of the most popular of all the social media … Facebook.
Once upon a midnight dreary …
Folks wrote letters. They mailed these hand-written messages in an envelope that traveled through the post to bring news to friends and loved-ones.
Before there was a telephone or a telegraph … before we had overnight or express mail … even before zip codes … there was the simple post.
We wanted to send a birthday card to my aunt. Off I toddled with my mother to the candy or drug store to select a card. Once back home, my mom wrote a note, sometimes she enclosed a black and white photograph. Then she signed it, placed the card in an envelope, and dropped it in the big blue mail box on the corner.
Each week my mom wrote three letters to my two aunts and her best friend who still lived in Poughkeepsie … and each week she received three letters.
When those letters arrived, my mother would steal herself into the bedroom and read, laugh or cry, and after a while, take out her stationary to respond. The set I like the most had a little rose on the corner.
Selecting the right stationary was an important element of the process. Mom had perfect penmanship … something her left-handed baby girl never mastered. They are lost arts … penmanship and letter writing.
Those were the fifties and the notion that a letter could be sent one day, travel one day, and arrive on the morning of the third day is not a lost art … it is a dead concept.
In those days, our social interaction happened outside the house … back and forth to school … hanging out at the ice cream parlor or meeting each other in the park or on a street corner.
If you wanted to talk to a friend, you went to their door or shouted up to their window.
Something this way comes …
Be it wicked or wild … change came. The pretty stationary and perfect penmanship were gone and the age of gentility faded into history.
Our modes of communication changed. The typewriter was replaced by the computer. Computers changed … and then came the internet. You took a tiny cord, plugged it into the back of the computer and suddenly our entire world changed … we had email.
Starting with our first email in the eighties our world stood on its hind legs and like a bucking bronco … took us on the ride of our life.
This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius …
We might never have gotten harmony or understanding …but with the internet we had the dawning of a new social order.
Starting in July of 2003 with Myspace, a personal on-line diary-type of entertainment was born.
One year later in February of 2004, Facebook was launched. It was founded by Mark Zuckerberg with his college roommates and fellow Harvard University student Eduarco Saverin.
The website’s membership was initially limited by the founders to Harvard students, but was expanded to other colleges in the Boston area, the Ivey League, and gradually most universities in Canada and the United States, corporations, and by September 2006, to everyone of age 13 and older with a valid email address. (Wikepedia)
On April 19, 2008, Facebook overtook Myspace in the Alexa rankings. Myspace, the party place has seen a continuing loss of membership, and there are several suggestions for its demise, including the fact that it stuck to a “portal strategy” of building an audience around entertainment and music, whereas Facebook and Twitter continually launched new features to improve the social-networking experience. (Wikepedia)
So what is in this place, the face of our times?
When you log into FB, your “timeline” appears as a series of images, messages, videos, cartoons, and slogans. The kids you knew back when became parents and then grandparents. Then one or more of them found you on-line and friended you, liked you, commented or communicated with you vis-a-vis your Facebook page.
Depending upon the time of day, you will see series from one person or another, those that you friended or those who friended you. Often based on the computer’s knowledge of who you are and what you “like,” you will also see organizations and their messages.
You might see the announcement of a wedding, the cover of a person’s up-coming book or pictures at writer’s conferences … all in time order with pictures of babies, cute animals, beautiful flora, funny cartoons and recipes.
You can chat and send messages … send and receive birthday greetings and post dozens of pictures or view immeasurable minutia. What someone had for lunch, what is growing in their garden, how their kitchen remake is coming along … or not.
To this there is no end. The millions of thought waves that reverberate through space flash 24/7 throughout the globe. I think perhaps we will one day connect to other planets in outer space … that Mars or Venus … will have a page and their inhabitants will begin to post images of other moons or a close up of the constellation Orion. Now that would be a page.
The list of the fifteen most popular social networks are among the over one-hundred social networks you can join. They include Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest or Google Plus+.
Their purpose is to expose you to others of your ilk in a variety of settings. Which ones you join depend upon which social community you have the most in common with or which segment of millions of readers with whom you wish to connect.
Each network begets another, which might also beget a web page, a newsletter or a blog. Friends and loved-ones click onto your various pages to stay connected to what you are doing and to ensure you connect to what they are doing. The timeline of Facebook can be one of the most addictive of the hodgepodge of virtual-psycho-pharmaceuticals we use to tune in and turn off.
Admit it … we have all been held captive by this amazing collection of images. Down the page you scroll … occasionally clicking the like button … sometimes adding a comment … way too many times sharing to your timeline. You can’t resist the latest of the cutest cat videos or that all-inspiring story of love, courage and just plain folks making the ordinary into the extraordinary.
I now know who owns horses, cats, dogs and tropical fish and enjoy the difference between the posts of boomers versus gen-Xer’s. It beats the evening news and can make you cry more than a soap opera … it works faster than a pill and is a wonderful companion to that first cup of full octane.
Next to this venue of the blog, FB is my favorite. I recognize that many use it to promote their work … to have a presence on FB is to have a slew of friends trending, but I also recognize, FB is the most interesting. You can tell so much about who a person is based on what they choose to post or which post they decide to share.
And depending on how addicted you really are … you will go to your timeline and look for this message and pass it on.
To market, to market to buy …
Nope … not a fat pig.
Any series on social interaction cannot be complete without the changing face, space or place where boomers and beyond first began to communicate … the phone.
Tune in next week for the last of this series where I will discuss the height of technology … the new generation of phones. The “i,” me, and mine of the iPad and iPhone and the social phenomenon of The Selfie.
Tell me if you will …
What is your favorite social network …
And how much time to you spend each day interacting on it?
fOIS In The City
Note: Yes, I ended that last question with a preposition. One of these days we’ll have some fun talking about grammar rules that no longer apply and why.