What’s Facebook good for?
I’ve been thinking about Facebook a bit this week because my blog entry earlier this week as well as a few posts on FB about red marriage equality profile pics pissed off a “friend” and spurred some disagreement. Facebook’s good for pissing people off, but that will be another blog post.
The point of this post is that Facebook is good for interacting with strangers.
While we’re on the topic of the red equality symbol, here’s an example of how Facebook is bad:
People bullied noted friend of teh gayz Kathy Griffin because she had not yet changed her profile pic to the all-important red equality symbol.
Another FB friend (not the pissed off one) pointed out that a lot of people changed their FB profile pics this week, raising awareness of support for marriage equality because the red equality symbol made the news everywhere. For example, Jimmy Kimmel talked about it, saying “I think changing your profile picture to support something you believe in is the least you can do. Literally, it is literally the least you can do. You almost did nothing, but instead you did just slightly more than nothing.” Nonetheless that so many people “did just slightly more than nothing” got a lot of people to talk about marriage equality and showed that a lot of people support it.
Here in the Dayton area, a local Sunday school teacher got into trouble with her church for coming out in favor of gay marriage.
Misty Lynch, who formerly taught Sunday school at The Jordan, a small church in Germantown, did not do “the least she could do.” No, she didn’t change her profile pic to the ubiquitous red equality symbol. She flat out stated her opinion so people didn’t have to wonder what a red equality symbol meant, saying on Facebook, “I’m a Christian and I support gay marriage. I don’t care if you’re gay, straight, purple, black or yellow.”
When I read about that, I looked Misty up on Facebook and sent her a message thanking her for what she’d done:
It turns out I wasn’t the only one with the idea to contact Misty. A friend of mine also took the time to contact her and to invite her to our church. I should have done that but didn’t think to (that might be the subject of another post some day).
So yes, Facebook is a great place to stand up for what you believe in (with just a profile pic or with an explicit statement) and to reach out to others who need support.
Facebook is also a great way to reach people whose attention you might not be able to get through email or via Twitter. One way Facebook is now earning money is by letting people pay $1 in order to send a message to a stranger that will land in that stranger’s Facebook inbox instead of the “other” bucket that messages from strangers usually go to.
Quick aside: Do not waste your money on the new SimCity
I hadn’t ever taken Facebook up on what I considered a marketing gimmick until earlier this month when I became one of the pissed off people who pre-ordered the new SimCity, only to find on its release that Electronic Arts had no clue whatsoever how to support a game that requires an always-on Internet connection (I should have known better, but I’ve liked SimCity since I first played it on my Amiga years ago).
But, having spent $80 on a game I couldn’t play, I figured I could waste another $1 to send a message to Kip Katsarelis, lead producer for SimCity, asking him why it was such a failure.
Something else fun about sending messages on Facebook instead of via email is that you can see whether the recipient of your message has seen it and when. So I knew when Kip saw my message, even before he graciously replied.
My sending Kip a message on Facebook didn’t really accomplish much, I know. He already knew the game his team produced was a colossal fuck up. I felt a tiny bit better venting, but I still didn’t have a game I could play reliably (even after Maxis added “a few more servers”), and I didn’t contribute positively to Kip’s life. I wasn’t profane with Kip and I’m not incredibly ashamed for anything I said to him, but yeah, this isn’t something to be proud of either.
So be a better person than I am, and if you harness the power of Facebook to interact with strangers, don’t send petty pointless messages.
Still, like many tools, Facebook can be used for good or for evil, and interacting with strangers is indeed something Facebook’s good for.