Suddenly my life is flashing in front of me, and it’s all on Facebook.
It started slowly. I joined Facebook and mostly added people I knew from Twitter, because, well, that’s who was there! Aside from my kids & their friends, it was mostly the early adopter crowd (and my kids ignored my invites.) As time went on, people I knew from other parts of my life began to appear, but still, they were mostly online friends.
I’m not sure what caused it, but as 2008 drew to a close, my Facebook friends list swelled up with neighbors, family members, high school, college & even elementary school classmates. It makes for a very strange virtual community! I think the game changer, to be honest, was Facebook opening newsfeed items and status updates to commenting. It makes it easier to communicate, and much more fun.
I was playing with the Facebook app called Friend Wheel, which creates a web a visually oriented person like me can understand.
According to Friend Wheel, I have 210 nodes (friends) and 2744 links (connections among those friends.) Just looking at the above image gives you a general idea of what I’m talking about. The crowded space on the left shows the interconnected nature of my social media nodes… er, friends. Take a look at the second image, where I’ve highlighted Chris Brogan, who is connected to over 100 of my friends.Nexus is another cool app for visualizing Facebook. It resembles a galaxy crossed with a spiderweb created by a stoned spider. At least mine does. It shows even more clearly how people from different parts of my life are connected. There are only 2 or 3 floating out there solo (for now!) which really makes it fascinating. Each group has a link to another one. Not that surprising considering the size and depth of the social media cloud I guess.
I spent a lot of years compartmentalizing my life. I had my family, I had my old friends, I had my local friends, I had my online friends, and even online there were mom friends, Disney friends, etc. In Facebook they’re all overlapping. I can completely understand how that might freak people out, especially if you start connecting with business associates. You might not feel comfortable with your workmates seeing photos from your weekend party! Luckily Facebook has pretty advanced (if non-intuitive) privacy controls so you can control who sees what to a point.
Personally I’ve chosen to use Facebook socially. I’m not there to find clients, and I don’t connect with people just because they might get me some business. I have to know (and like) them from somewhere else, whether it be town or Twitter.
So here I am with this giant web of friends. They all get to see a part of me they wouldn’t otherwise, and likewise, I see them in a way I never would have. What does it all mean? How will it change the way we connect and communicate? Is it all good? And, I have to ask (of course) what’s next?