Defending is a bit strong. In support of, or just being a fan of – also too much. The better phrase might actually be chapeau! Look, I am no “Facebooker” (okay, this blog is linked to Facebook) but as we continue hearing stories about the Facebook IPO debacle, its plummeting share value, and all the other tales of the evils of Facebook, I found myself reflecting on the impact of Facebook over the last decade.
Yes, I completely understand, it is a time suck, a silly distraction, and there are countless stories of “Facebook bullying”, “stalking”, “Farmville”, and other completely useless things that go with Facebook. And of course the privacy issues…based on what one chooses to disclose of course. And let us not forget to mention that for a CEO and visionary, Mark Zuckerberg has to be one of the most publicly unlikable guys of the last decade. I have never met the man, have zero first hand, or even second or third hand knowledge of him, but “warm and fuzzy” is not a phrase that springs to mind when one thinks of Mr. Zuckerberg.
And of course there is the ongoing stream of “Facebook IPO” stories…overvalued, over-hyped, insiders made all the money, and on and on. I have no dog in this fight, but seriously, if the flipping founder and CEO says anything but “we are focused on making money”, it is probably NOT a wise investment. That would be a wonderful charity, but not necessarily a wise investment.
All of the above said, here is why I decided to pause and give a tip of the hat to Facebook:
– No question, we are all more connected. For good or bad, it has brought a sizeable chunk of the world closer together.
– Guerilla marketing and small business. The ability to “bootstrap” businesses, to reach out to potential and existing clients – absolutely unbelievable. Facebook has empowered the launch and expansion of a host of small businesses. Think about it…Facebook has absolutely pulverized barriers to entry when it comes to getting the message out there.
– On that topic of “getting the message out there” – fund-raising, charities, bake sales, community service drives, church or social functions – it is amazing the instant communication and the reach…for good.
– “The Social Network” effect. Extended family, long ago friendships renewed, classmates found, family photos, the grandparents actually being able to literally see their grandchildren growing up half a world away. It is incredible…it really is just flat amazing.
– Revolution, messages, communication, and connectivity. From “the Arab Spring”, to the Obama Campaign of 2008, to the ongoing ability of Peoples across the world to “get the word out”, the idea of shutting off a people or country from the rest of the world is so last century. Facebook and Twitter are banned and feared by totalitarian regimes…that is amazing when you think about it.
– It is free! Literally, it costs nothing to use. Zero.
All of the above said, the tipping point for me was when a 17-year-old said last week “no one is on Facebook anymore”. I realized then the shine truly was off Facebook. Who knows what the future might hold, and if Mr. Zuckerberg would like to shoot me a note, I have some ideas on how he can increase revenue, but it was time to remember what was before the explosion of that silly website and app.
In complete candor, the other day was my birthday. Say what you will, but hearing from a lot of old friends, extended family, close friends, colleagues, and just those who have impacted you along the way, well, it is pretty flipping amazing really. Chapeau Facebook!