How do you use Facebook? And does it really matter?

I don’t think much about Facebook. I just have fun with it.

My friendz* on the site range from people I know extremely well to people I’ve never met — 302 in all, built up over 4 years.

fb2I don’t take Facebook seriously — ever.  And that’s part of its charm: There’s no pressure to be “on.” In my spoof of the “25 Things” meme I said: “I’m a Facebook whore who accepts friend invitations from almost anyone. In the end, it really doesn’t matter much, because we’re just pretending to be friends.”

Turns out, that’s not really true. Most of my 302 friendz are folks I met while passing through life, and I know most of them reasonably well. But I certainly haven’t met them all.

Contrast this to a GenY view of Facebook:

“There’s the difference between your generation and mine,” my 23-year-old son told me. “I use Facebook to track personal contacts, and to stay in touch with them.” Chris says he’s met face to face every one of his 735 Facebook friendz, and he plans to keep it that way. “That’s why they call it Facebook.” Chris sees it as a “personal” space that shouldn’t be co-mingled with one’s professional life — or one’s Twitter stream.

For his “GenY” view, check out his post titled, “Are we friends on Facebook yet?” (That title spoofs a line often seen on Twitter.)

How do I use Facebook? I just react to what pops up.

But I do have one ground rule: Never reach out to friend a student. When you hold a position of authority over someone — as I do with students — it’s important to keep some distance. Also, consider that 90% of PR majors are young, single women, and I’m an old married guy. Friend requests from geezers — especially teacher geezers — can be creepy. And do you really want do be accepted with only a “limited profile view”? Ouch!

Bosses and supervisors should follow the same rule.

Now, if a student sends a request my way, I accept EVERY time. I get quite a few of those, but I advise students to avoid friending their professors. You see, we spend I good bit of time on Facebook trying to learn what makes you tick. We read the wall posts and we look at the pictures.

Do you really want that burden?

As it turns out, the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree. My use of Facebook is not that different from my GenY son. Here’s a quick content analysis of my 302 Facebook relationships.


I’m not sure what any of this means. But I do know that more and more in the 40+ group are flocking to Facebook, and many are using it as a business networking tool.

Others are using it to connect with long, lost friends. And at my age, you tend to have a few of those. Gotta say, I love getting friend requests from the “kids” in my class at IAHS. I still miss you guys. No s#@*. Those were some good times.

So have fun with Facebook. Just don’t overthink it.


*  I was introduced to the term “friendz” by Brian Connolly, one of the creators of the Strumpette blog. Since he was among the first people I know to question the authenticity of online “relationships.” he earns this footnote.

7 Responses to How do you use Facebook? And does it really matter?

  1. mose says:

    Great post.

    One area I have seen (cause I am in it) is the arts – whether pro or semi-pro. As a musician we connect with our band mates, peers, folks we play with, fans and those with similar tastes/musical instrument/mentors or idols. I have had several chats and great discussions with some top players (I had met a couple of them – but mostly they were influences.) The connection to these players has helped my personal playing by tapping into resources they have shared.

    This has been a terrific boon to the musician. It is a great way to promote gigs – I don’t think anyone has balked at getting gig notices?

    It is a great way to look for players or to promote new albums.years ago we did this in the main stream press. Then the free(ish) indie newspapers came out and we used them – then the Web with discussion boards and news groups – I miss them ;(

    Now we all use Facebook. Great medium – shots of the gigs, videos, selections of tunes … it is pretty perfect.

    I personally don’t use it for biz world (the suit kind vs the music biz) And have many examples where the folks I have connected to has helped and made my music experience enriched.

  2. Chris says:

    I like the post, but I have to comment about one part.

    “And do you really want do be accepted with only a “limited profile view”? Ouch!”

    I started filtering my profile when I was still in college and getting friend requests from the 12-18 year-old kids I counseled at summer camp. I’ll admit that my Facebook image wasn’t always squeaky clean, and as a role model to the kids I was conscience of how my online image could affected them. So I made a limited profile that allowed the kids to see my info, profile picture, and not much else.

    Since college, my Facebook image has undergone a virtual “spring cleaning,” but I still add people to the limited profile group for different reasons. Among other things, they can’t see pictures, which I think is okay. If they’re people that I wouldn’t normally say, “Hey, take a look at these prints my vacation pics,” then why would I give them access to see them on Facebook?

    To me, it’s about taking control of my online world, and as you’ve mentioned, keeping some of it private. So, I’ll continue to add people to the Limited profile list, and yes, sometimes professors fall into this category.

  3. Bill Sledzik says:

    Chris: More evidence that GenY understands Facebook — and most of social networking — better than us old guys. I’ve always considered the “limited profile” as, well, unfriendly. Never really thought of its practical applications.

    I recall a new Facebook friend once asking if I had granted her only limited access. She was sure I had. At the time, I didn’t even know Facebook gave you the option.

    Guess that says something about the tame nature of my Facebook site. I’m not just old, I’m boring.

    Mose: I do get notices from two performers who are friends on Facebook. You get to know a lot of musicians when you work on a college campus, and they’ve all learned the value of social media to promote their gigs. Of course, I don’t go to clubs anymore. Given the loud music and my advanced hearing loss, I simply can’t carry on a conversation in those places. Sigh.

  4. Danny Brown says:

    Funny thing with Facebook. It started as a college project to keep in touch with current students, then alumni, then friends, and just seemed to grow.

    Now businesses are trying ads there. Different age groups are trying it. Which has led to a lot of younger people saying they’d stop using it, since who wants to see their mom being *poked* by their best friend? 😉

    Personally, I’m not 100% sold on the idea of it as a proper business networking tool yet. If I want great business connections, I’ll use LinkedIn, and Twitter.

    I still see Facebook as a fun way to let the world know a little more about you.

    But then I guess that’s why I’m not Gen Y – not even sure if I count for Gen X! 😉

  5. Tim Roberts says:

    Max Grubb conducted research on Facebook, and it is fascinating. Many GenYers use Facebook as a way to “filter” or categorize friends in a cold, calculating but sociologically interesting way. The focus groups he did were eye-opening in that respect. Some participants also admitted their social skills are suffering due to Facebook.

    I like Facebook because it allows me to keep in touch with folks from my college and newspaper years. Speaking of which, a friend from the Beacon Journal is doing a “Facebook for Fogies” article. Biggest complaint she has encountered? The applications are shady and e-profiling seems rampant.

  6. Janet Engel says:

    hmmm– interesting and thank you !– has me thinking about having the sales reps that I manage as “friends”….I am conflicted on that and just started accepting them as I got started. As a result I have had to “re-define” my profile a bit and choose to hide some info, etc. It is an on-going process for sure….appreciate the blog!

  7. […] Sledzik’s blog, How do you use Facebook? And does it really Matter? discusses how he uses Facebook. He has fun with it and doesn’t over think it, which is exactly my […]

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