Technology has made the world a global space, bringing to us social networks that enable us interact with friends from any part of the world. The advent of these networks has made communication faster, easier and cheaper, but they hold risks in security such as cyber crimes perpetrated every day, and occasional bad user experiences. This however, does not devalue the importance of signing up on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram. This paper looks into how I use Facebook as a social networking tool, and how it has changed the way I interact with friends and family.
Facebook was started on February 4th 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg. Fourteen years later today, it boasts of holding the number one spot as the world’s biggest site with over a billion active users (Hoefflinger, 2017). Facebook has more than 30,000 servers, to enable it perform efficiently. The developers have incorporated PHP, LINUX and MYSQL (Musings, 2010). Each of the software has been customized to suit Facebook’s large user base and activity. For instance, for the PHP Facebook has built a compiler that enables it turn native code on its users (Musings, 2010). Facebook also has a system called the Gatekeeper that enable it generate different codes for different users. This is important when Facebook is working on new features, and would allow them to try out these features in-house first before it reflects to the rest of the world.
More than 25 billion pieces of content are uploaded to Facebook every day; with 14.6 million photos being uploaded every hour, and a total of 570 billion page views within a month (Pingdom, 2017). Fifty three percent of all active Facebook users are women, and total users range between the ages of 25-35 (Pingdom, 2017).
Facebook has enabled me connect with people from all over the world. This includes people I know personally, and as Facebook puts it, other people ‘I may know’. Signing up for the platform is as simple as having a legitimate email and password. It takes only three minutes to sign up. Once that is done, Facebook can synchronize your contact list to enable it suggest friends you can add, and this enabled me to instantly find people I already knew personally, instantly. Once the connection has been established, you are able to follow what the other person is posting, write down comments on their updates, and write messages on each their walls. Facebook also allows sharing of friend’s posts to one’s own wall, so that the post gets a wider reach. This means I am able to see view posts of the friends of my friends, add them to my list, and establish an even bigger pool of online friends.
Facebook is not only a good platform to connect with personal relations; it is also a good tool for doing business. Businesses the world over have created Facebook businesses pages to enable them reach a wider audience. In fact, Facebook itself set aside a channel for conducting business, called the Facebook Business Manager, where one can manage and Advertise several business pages that they administrate. The Business Manager allows one update payment systems, see who else has access to the pages, and how to control the number of people with access and rights they have to the pages. I have used Facebook Business in this way, to enable me and my team to efficiently manage our pages.
Facebook is a little limiting when it comes to messaging. Unlike in the past where messaging was within the app, now one has to install a separate messaging app, the Facebook Messenger, to be able to send direct messages. This is limiting as an extra app requires extra space on one’s gadget, and also the fact that it is a hustle going back and forth between two Apps of the same platform for different functions. When using Facebook on a computer, going through the newsfeed and direct messaging is easy as the message tab opens automatically. Most users however, use their mobile phones to browse, and therefore have to go through the back and for hustle.
Since every minute someone is always posting something, Facebook can be really distractive. There is always a new post to see and react to, a new picture, or video. Social media addiction is so serious that in fact, a rehab facility in Johannesburg was established to offer rehabilitation to people who are addicted to social media (Radio 702, 108). The treatment includes individual therapy and group therapy for the addicts. Social media addiction does not just end with people spending a lot of time on social platforms, counselors say the internet in itself has led to secondary addictions such as porn, gambling, gaming activities that inhibit an individual’s normal functioning. Most people literally cannot sit still without whipping out their phones and checking what is happening online.
Social network tools are also a good hub for information. Because literally every institution has joined social media, news channels are now adapting to using platforms such as Facebook to update news stories. Now, from any part of the world that has Internet connectivity, one is able to receive instant updates on what is going on in the world. This instant updating has also led to the advent of mobile journalism, where anyone can capture a moment with their phones, and share with the online community. It is now not a preserve of media institutions to update the world on what is going on. However, this freedom has also led to advent of more fake news than real accounts.
In conclusion, social tools have definitely made connections easier, cheaper and faster. Unlike olden days where one had to post letters and wait days for feedback, or call telephone operators to connect them with loved ones, we are now able to communicate instantly. This efficiency has also come with its downside where we feel we are in touch but we really are out of touch. For instance, interacting with a friend’s posts on Facebook gives us the impression that we are connected, when in reality, we do not take time to call each other, or meet and have one-on-one conversations with friends.
We can do it today.
- Hoefflinger, M. (2017). Becoming Facebook: The 10 challenges that defined the company that’s disrupting the world. New York : American Management Association
- Pingdom, (2017, May 10). Report; Social Network Demographics in 2017 [Web Log Post] Retrieved July 19, 2018, from: https://royal.pingdom.com/2017/05/10/social-media-in- 2017/
- Radio 702, (2018, July 16), Double-tap if you’re a social media addict – JHB rehab offers residential help [Web Log Post]. Retrieved July 19, 2018, from: http://www.702.co.za/articles/311768/double-tap-if-you-re-a-social-media-addict-jhb- rehab-offers-residential-help