Lately I’ve been re-evaluating my position with Facebook.
Historically I’ve opposed using Facebook. You can read my case against Facebook if you aren’t yet up to speed. In short, Facebook has a business model in which the user is not the customer and the company has behaved very untrustworthily. So I never signed up.
A recent experience brought that policy into question. As I sought out more information about electronic publishing (in order to promote my upcoming book), I began to see that in order to be successful one needs to establish a platform — a following that will buy the book and spread the word both before and after the book becomes available. I have a small following on the blog for my first book, which I have been working on for the past three years, but I need a much larger reach if I am to have the success with it that I really want.
Putting the pieces together, I began to see that without social media my journey to that success would be very much uphill and very steep.
So I re-examined my earlier conclusion in light of the new information I had encountered. What resulted was what you see elsewhere on this website. The page formerly titled “Why I Don’t Facebook” was re-titled “Dancing with Facebook” because I did change my position slightly to allow Facebook use, though on a limited basis. I feel like I took two steps back and then one step forward.
What brought about this change of thinking? It wasn’t the steep cliff I would need to climb if I didn’t use social media to promote my upcoming book. That just got the ball rolling. I still would have attempted to climb that steep cliff had my deliberations returned the earlier verdict.
What changed my thinking was the introduction of a new perspective. Why was I engaging electronic publishing to begin with? Sure, there are the dreams of starting a new business and finding a new flow of funds that will let me have more control over my life. But ultimately I wanted (and still do want) to take the unique contribution that I believe that I can make and dent in the universe. Perhaps the dent will be very small, but the world will be in a slightly better shape than when I found it because of my contribution.
I saw the question of using social media as a question of how large I wanted my sphere of influence to be. I can make a small dent and be very satisfied with that. But what if my contribution could bring light and goodness to more people? And since I love to dream big, when I imagined more people, I imagined many, many more people. Social media makes that possible on a scale unseen before on the stage of history.
Choosing to stay away is choosing to remain aloof, to dim the light of my candle so that it shines not quite as bright as it might.
These considerations do not invalidate my earlier conclusions about Facebook’s business model and track record of untrustworthiness. While the use of Facebook threatens the majority of my top 10 values, Facebook does have the potential to promote many of my other values, including my top 3 values of truth, imagination, and freedom. It all depends on how I use the platform.
I believe in being in the world but not of the world. To be in the world means engaging with it, and much of the world of the early 21st century is on Facebook. There are other social media platforms, but none have anywhere near the reach of Facebook. If I truly believe what I say I do, then I must engage the world.
I still prefer living in the real world. I still don’t trust Facebook. And I still think that privacy matters. But I am willing to trade a limited use of the Facebook platform for the opportunity to make my unique contribution, because the alternative means limiting my sphere of influence and with that the contribution that only I can make.
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