Facebook is easy to hate. It swallows our lives then regurgitates them back to us in one-line status updates and shaky camera phone photos, right? Yet for all my bitching about wasted hours and insidious advertising I can’t tear myself away.
After hearing a presentation from Eric Edge, Facebook’s head of marketing communications, I have a new perspective on the situation. A garrulous, handsome kid in a crisp shirt, Edge was at an IPA creative conference to deliver the secrets of Facebook’s unseemly success. Which cook down to a set of aphorisms like “The journey is 1% finished” and “done is better than perfect”, all of which sound as if they should be emblazoned on those sickly ‘inspirational’ posters featuring pictures of snow-capped mountains or crouching tigers. Glib isn’t necessarily wrong, though, and advice like “be okay with giving up something good in the quest for something great” can apply to life as well as social networks.
Arguably Facebook’s real allure is creativity, rather than connectivity. It give users the chance to vicariously partake in a culture of freewheeling innovation and it lets create a facsimile of their perfect life. I am far more interested in posting my content, tagging my photos, and projecting my image than I am in reading about anyone else. My guess is that a lot of people feel the same way. I – we – stick with Facebook because it is desktop access to a parallel universe created in our image. People get into trouble on Facebook because they let loose and act as if their boss/teacher/parent/partner doesn’t exist. Instead of self-censorship, why not harness that energy?
According to Facebook’s ethos of creativity, courage and change, the solution to healing the rift between our real and digital lives is to learn from it. Why be content with being your ideal self in just two-dimensions? Take a good, long look at how you project yourself on Facebook then figure out how to become that in real life. Ultimately, Facebook is a tool. You can use it to build a persona, or use it to become more of a person.