Is Facebook the “real world”? Part 1

Normally when I blog about Facebook, it has to do with using Facebook for marketing, but this series is going to take a look at how we use Facebook in our personal lives.

Earlier this week, I was listening to a webinar, and one of the featured speakers was the corporate social media manager at a company with many local stores across the United States. She was saying that the community and public relations people at the individual stores are best suited to also be the social media people.

“We trust our store marketers to decide which content they want to share and how,” she said. “Our store marketers know what’s going to resonate in the real world and online.”

It gave me pause. Intentionally or not, she said that the online world we live in and the tangible world we live in aren’t the same.

Is it?! Social media (especially Facebook), in addition to other online outlets, are a part of most people’s everyday lives. Sharing and absorbing information on Facebook is something we do, like drinking coffee or riding the train to work. Facebook has 845 million monthly active users.

But lately and coincidentally, I had started to wonder: is Facebook the real world? Has it become an ingrained, no-brainer part of our culture, thus making it “real”? Or, is there a separation between Facebook and everything we do outside of Facebook. And, when it comes to who we are in face-to-face life and who we are on our Facebook profiles, do most people pull a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

In addition to the webinar, a few other things precipated this blog series: My significant other and I were recently out listening to a live band. There was a group of college students at a table near us. It seemed like every time we turned around, they were posing for photos and then furiously tapping their phones, assumably texting or sharing them online.

To me, it seemed like they were spending so much time taking photos and sharing them online that they a) weren’t interacting with the others in the group in a meaningful way and b) not appreciating and absorbing their surroundings (aka, not listening to the awesome band on stage!).

Or, has capturing a moment by sharing it online become the new way of experiencing the moment? Is it more important to remember parts of an experience than it is to experience it wholly in the present?

Then, coincidentally (this blog series was meant to be), I came across an article from Psychology Today, “Quitting Facebook Could Make You Happier,” written by Dr. Michael W. Austin, associate professor of philosophy at Eastern Kentucky University. His article is based on information from a recent study showing that people who are on Facebook believe that others have happier lives than is actually the case.

This is the crux of the article: “…don’t judge the happiness of others by their Facebook page, status updates, pictures, and so on. … Whether intentionally or not, people tend to put their best (if not entirely accurate) face forward in such settings.”

A day or so later, a good and beautiful friend of mine implied that she was feeling a little down after perusing the class notes section of her college’s alumni magazine. Freshly empowered with the article’s message, I told her that the class notes section of college alumni magazines are like Facebook: people are going to publish their best and happiest sides, more intentionally than not, I’ll argue, when it comes to Facebook. (How many of us untag ourselves from a bad photo?!)

(Of course, as we all know, some people use Facebook to air all their dirty, negative laundry, but that’s neither here nor there.)

However, a college alumni magazine would be considered part of the “real world.” Right? So what makes putting your best face forward in that outlet “real” and putting the same face forward in another outlet not part of the “real world”?

[Because this is a series, I can end this post with a question!]

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2 thoughts on “Is Facebook the “real world”? Part 1

  1. I can’t see how Facebook can be considered not real. What those students were doing will not become standard, that’s just a passing trend.

  2. testdomain says:

    You have got some really important information published here. Good job and keep posting great stuff.

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