Sometimes someone comes along and not only hits the nail on the head. They drive it through the wall and out the other side.
Mark Cuban did just such a thing with his assessment of Facebook in his most recent blog post. While looking at Facebook from a business point of view, there are gems to be found from a personal perspective as well.
I was once a promoter of Facebook until I realized it is as Mr. Cuban describes it, “a huge time suck”. How many hours were wasted on reading unimportant, trivial non-sense posted about topics I couldn’t care less about? Then factor in the constant bombardment of “commercials” from companies who I happened to become a fan (the predecessor to “like”) and it’s a recipe for regret.
Facebook, at the time I was a member, was a private company and their reported user base was under 250 million users. It was rather newish, trendy and useful. I felt the rush of connecting with people I had long lost contact with from as far back as elementary school. But that rush and excitement gave way to a familiar pattern of just checking to see who posted what useless bit of information about their person life.
The pattern repeated itself until finally I became sick of the narcissistic ramblings. Facebook is all about “me” and when someone posted something about themselves there was the little blue thumbs up looking at me with some guilt ridden stare to click it. Enough was enough and I closed my account. Yes I jumped through all of Facebook’s hoops and close my account. Other family members did so as well due to the same feelings. Those who I knew stayed on were told to never post a picture or information I sent via email or text on Facebook. So far I they all have been kind enough to honor the request.
So what does my personal experience have to do with Cuban’s assessment? I believe it boils down to this, “They are over thinking what their network is all about .” Facebook is not nor will it ever be the de facto source people go to for news and information. Twitter is a much better social platform for the sharing of news, especially breaking news. Other sides are better at aggregating stories which appeal to the vast spectrum of markets such as political, religious, hobbies, etc…
Facebook is left with having to focus on being what it does best, suck time from the lives of people. To be the off switch to the reality people live in every day. Where I disagree with Mr. Cuban is Facebook’s affect on people. He makes the comment, “Actually it’s a life saver. Head down on FB beats the hell out of that awkward feeling that you may have to at least acknowledge and possibly talk to the person next to you.”. While unplugging from reality into something else can be a good thing when used correctly, Facebook has taken a good thing and given people way too much of it.
Recently on an episode of This Week in Tech , Baratunde Thurston, recounted an event following hurricane Sandy. He was in New York and a woman stopped him and told him to listen. She noted it was the sound of people actually talking to each other instead of being on their phones. It was a great illustration of the power of “social” media today. Baratunde then drew, what I feel is the correct and paraphrased, conclusion of society becoming more digitally “connected” at a cost of our real life connections.
Facebook is now public company with the main goal of making money. It has to other wise it will fail. By doing so it will put shareholders interests above all else. While understandable it does mean Facebook will, in my opinion, only increase dissatisfaction of the users going forward. Just think about this, where’s the dislike button?