Thursday 28 August 2014

You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies

Early last week, at a friend’s request I went to see The Social Network. My main reason for going was the fact that I am a massive West Wing and Aaron Sorkin fan and although I had read rave reviews I had little expectations of the movie other than it being an entertaining, inaccurate portrayal of the beginnings of Facebook.


                                                                                                                                               

 Source: Flickr.com

Before seeing the movie, I had thought little about Facebook or the role it actually played in my life but the movie ended up having more of an impact on me than expected and got me to thinking about the ways in which Facebook has single-handedly changed how we socially interact and basically live our lives.

When Facebook was launched in 2004, I was living in a rural town in Vietnam and was only keeping in sporadic contact with a handful of friends. After setting up a Facebook account I was amazed at how I began to feel that I was still back at home, in constant contact with friends and part of the weekly updates of albums and weekend reports.


                                                                                                                                               

Source: Flickr.com                                                          

I find it intriguing how Facebook has evolved from its creation as a Harvard-only membership base, advertising free website into what is exists as today. Very rarely is it that you meet people solely on face-value, I always seem to have a ‘don’t I know you from somewhere’ feel. If they are friends of friends or even remotely in the same social network as yourself, it is highly likely that they know your relationship status, have seen photos of you and your family, they already know you based on how you have chosen to present yourself to the world.

The evolution of Facebook has meant that there has been a significant impact on social values. As someone who thrives on social day-to-day interaction, sometimes I miss actual phone conversations as opposed to Facebook chat or actually receiving an invitation in the mail rather than one distributed en masse via Facebook.

With last month’s launch of Facebook Places, it is now even easier for your Facebook friends to track your day to day life and I find it interesting how people are embracing this opportunity to be watched and monitored.  Initially, I personally hated the idea of checking into places and having everyone know exactly how (and maybe unproductively) I was spending my day however I have been swayed by the position that if I know checking in somewhere will save me a few dollars then it can’t be a bad thing at all.

Since starting at Edelman, I have learnt and understood the significance of Facebook as a platform of communication, an endless source of potential, not only for individuals but for the success and promotion of businesses. It’s interesting how in the last six years Facebook, with a reach of over 400 million users has evolved from a social networking system to being part of a social media strategy employed by corporations in order to remain competitive.

-Emma Mikus