This may come as a surprise to many, but I have strict rules about how much time I spend on Facebook and when. And when I am with my family, it is a definite no-no to be on my iPhone pecking away messages to my myriad of great friends that reside there in cyber-space. Why do I have these strict guidelines when it comes to Facebook, a resource that feeds my family’s financial well-being? Because, well, there is a point when Facebook can be destructive.
I was sitting in a very nice restaurant last night with my wife, it was date-night. We put one phone on the table, in case our son’s nanny needs to reach us, but we don’t touch it, we instead focus on each other, and decompressing from our exciting entrepreneurial days. As I begin to relax, I look around the packed restaurant. It was filled with two types of people. The first kind of person was relaxed, enjoying their meal and more importantly, enjoying the people they came with. The second kind of person was the disconnected, glazed-over eyed Facebook addict. At these tables, it was normal for both persons to be doing the same activity, as if they came to this restaurant to “feed” and “be with” others, but couldn’t resist being digitally connected. The characteristic that united each of these addicts, was that they appeared uneasy and weren’t smiling or enjoying their experience.
This gave me pause…
Will Facebook be the cause of a generational Social Disease? Will the next generation be labeled Generation Un-Social? Will families be united only by the mere fact that they live in the same household, but not really even “know” whom they reside with?
I’m not certain about this theory, but it certainly seems like an interesting study to me.
This exploration into the wall-building psyche of the average human being has led me to wonder, has Facebook done any good in the world?
Let’s take a look from my own experience. I have about 1700+ fans on my personal Facebook Page. They are a mixture of people I know well, people I have met along the way, and people I have shared interests with. They are people I have done work with, they are people I went to school with, and people I have gone to conferences with. Some are even people that have seen me or my wife speak at conferences.
I have been reunited with my best friend from Kindergarten whom I thought I would never talk to again. Then reunited again with my best friend from the 3rd to the 7th grade whom virtually disappeared from my life after my father joined the Army and we moved away. I was reunited with my first love, Erica, from the 9th grade, after there were rumors that she went off the deep end and ran away from home, and maybe even took her own life (all not true). I have been reunited with co-workers from my 4 years in the Air Force, with friends that I went to college with, and I stay in touch with them all. Perhaps the best re-connect was with my business partner and best Friend John Wayne Zimmerman. We were friends in High School when we lived in Stuttgart Germany, kicking up all kinds of trouble as teenagers that were let loose in a foreign country with lots of energy and testosterone. Realizing that we still had a lot in common when it comes to our business aspirations and family commitments, I joined forces with John to help transform his company eRocketFuel, into Social Experts.
Given that I have been reconnected with so many amazing people, I would make the case that Facebook actually HAS done a lot of good.
While we were arriving at our date night restaurant last night, my wife and I ran into an old and dear friend whom we hadn’t seen in over a year. She knew we were about to take a trip to San Diego, and told us that she had been following our every activity on Facebook for the past year. While I believe in the power of human connection, and face to face interaction, the mere fact that friends whom you don’t see for long periods of time are still emotionally connecting with you in the activities you are posting about, is a strong case for the assertion that Facebook might actually have us MORE CONNECTED than in any time in human history.
That is a strong assertion, I know. But think about it, if you consider that we now live in a more nomadic society, where it is not unusual to move from city to city for work, and to make friends from around the world due to your travels, Facebook allows us the opportunity to “peek” into each others lives and communicate through the power of Images and Videos. Grandmothers, and Grandfathers are able to be up to date on every activity of their beloved grandchildren, siblings are able to stay connected and not miss a beat, and with the addition of Facebook Chat and VIdeo, we are able to be “live” in each others living rooms. When in human history have we been able to “visit” virtually at any time day or night, with people from around the world?
It is nothing short of amazing.
Given that there are two sides to every coin, I choose to lean toward toward the notion that Facebook does more good in the world, than it does harm. I believe that human beings will find a way to be connected if they desire, and they will disconnect if they don’t feel like being present with the person that sits across from them. The key to good “Facebooking” is Balance.
As an entrepreneur, your time is valuable. Every hour is worth either money, or piece of mind. Choose wisely how you spend that time-collateral. Your livelihood depends on your ability to think critically about how much time you are willing to invest online, and how much time you need for other matters in your business. Use a Social Media Calendar to plan out your Social Campaigns, schedule out the times you are on social, maybe once in the morning, once in the afternoon for very specific amounts of time. Perhaps catch up with friends and family in your “off hours” after your business time is complete.
Use Facebook Marketing to effectively grow your business, and use Facebook socially to stay connected to those you care about. And if you need help with your Social Branding, don’t forget that Social Experts does Social Consulting to make sure you are aligned with your Social Message and we do Social Media Management for those of you whom are committed to focusing solely on your business and making more money doing what you are good at. Send us a message if you want to set up a quick “social exploration session.”
Much love to everyone, keep rocking in your businesses and enjoying the life you have created as an entrepreneur.