Don’t call me, I live on facebook…..
It is known as the ‘Social Network’ , the place where friendships are re kindled (or re-united…. hang on wasn’t that another one, blink and you miss it), the online space that brings meaning, status and power to millions (how many friends do YOU have). It makes us feel important like never before and allows us to create our own ‘alternative reality’ if we so wish. The dull, boring wallflower personality becomes the life and soul of the social network party, the boffins becomes the fool and Miss ‘I can’t pay my rent’ is suddenly rolling in virtual bling. All with the click of a button….
And that is what interests me, a person of discrete nosiness who is more interested in the thoughts in your head than the size of your house, the number of kids/ holidays / bank accounts you have or your relationship status. Translate this into the world of facebook and, if I am totally honest I am interested in the way that you market yourself . Your brand, your online persona. For me, Facebook would have to be the most valuable of windows into our collective consciousness if indeed we are conscious when we use it……
Anyway, the inspiration for this post originates in the film ‘The Social Network’ that I was lucky enough to see on the way home from my much needed and long-awaited trip to Blighty. The film follows the story of Mark Zuckerberg, an almost ‘Rain man’ type of character who, while gifted with amazing computer programming powers struggles with even the simplest of social etiquette and charm. How fitting for a site such as this.
Desperate to succeed in life the teenage Mark, a student at Harvard becomes obsessed with the idea that gaining entry into one of the elusive and prestigious societies is THE key to a successful life, a goal that he rather clumsily achieves after gaining attention of a group of king pins after a late-night blogging session-cum-Harvard in-house frat book hack turns him into the University’s new anti-hero. They sign him up to code their ‘facebook’ type “sure to make millions’ website unaware that Mark, who had been nurturing an idea parallel to theirs had decided to use this final piece of inspiration to get started on his own project. Before too long THE FACEBOOK was born.
Needless to say, Mark’s conduct teamed with his bluntness and disregard for social norms landed him in yet more hot water resulting in more law suits and wranglings none of which rattled Marks cage as all he ever wanted was to be popular…..
If only it was that simple.
You see back at the start of this post I mentioned the small but not insignificant fact that we can (if we are conscious) re-create our lives online. We can forget that we actually have very few friends, struggle to get out of bed in the morning and would need more than three vodka’s before we would dare dance around a pole for goodness sake. No, as long as we don’t MEET these virtual friends too often we can be whoever we want to be and I think that could get us into trouble.
Another thing that I mentioned was about consciousness. Being interested in the way that people market themselves online (and baring in mind that many people are just being themselves which is actually lovely) there seem to be a lot of people who don’t think before they post. I mean you only have to read the news to see that a growing number of people have been sacked after calling in sick from work and then posting pictures of them catching some rays on the beach with their new best friends. Or there are the people who post ‘is it beer o’clock’ posts every day unaware that those facebook-only friends have now re-branded you ‘the alcoholic one’. Then there are the people who “hate my job/ life/ wife/ neighbours’ PLEASE???? And finally the people who don’t say anything but stalk your every move with a comment……
Facebook should come with a sobriety and alertness test, you can only post things if you are truly awake. That should see numbers shrink a little. How I digress….
Anyway, back to the film.
For me the beauty in this film was in the simplicity of the motivation behind facebook. We are social animals and we all feel better when we are liked. Facebook was conceived out of a desire to have friends and be popular. What better way to show the world that you are all that and more than by having it all up on a page that the world can see, your own virtual billboard of popularity, your cheer leaders. Don’t we all want a bit of that?
I guess what I saw in the film that stood out as important for me was the fact that having a successful facebook life is nothing but a veneer if the virtual isn’t backed up with reality. Over the last month of being away I had the joy and pleasure of re-acquainting myself with a number of my ‘facebook’ friends, all of whom had been ‘real world’ friends before I moved countries. It was refreshingly lovely to see these people in their full glory living three-dimensional lives containing as much drama, passion, pain and fun as you would expect from mortal beings. And that is what matters.
In many ways facebook has brought much happiness and fulfillment to my life. I can see, talk to and share even the most non-remarkable news, views, pictures and thoughts with my family and friends from all over the world and more importantly I can see, hear and read their news too. Yes I do self-sensor my information and manage my online brand in a conscious way but that is because I live in the real world and in the real world we know that a smile is priceless and that it is happiness that makes the world go around.
So, my take home message?
Play with your eyes wide open and some brand awareness and if the thought of actually meeting some of your online friends scares you then maybe you’ve just fallen into the Mark Zuckerberg trap that values the perception over the reality. Keep it real and you will have a very nice time and however tempting, don’t live on facebook.
PS: To find out more about how Realize Beauty can manage the Social Media for your brand drop us an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org