Today, nearly four years after it launched, I have joined Facebook.
The site itself launched in September 2004, and during that summer, while I readied to begin what would be a transcendent tenure at Temple University in Philadelphia, founder Mark Zuckerberg was watching his baby explode. From its Harvard roots, through other Boston and Ivy League universities to Temple and much of the rest.
I can remember first hearing about it in late August 2004, on a porch of my college dormitory. From the very start I ignored it.
I can remember hearing it roll out to other, smaller universities and then excitement because friends from community colleges could join – with institution e-mail addresses. I continued to ignore it.
I didn’t like the idea of online social networking at all. It was against a lot of how I saw the world – useless technological advances, impersonal interaction and a remarkable depletion of time. The same reasons I withdrew from instant messengers in sixth grade – mj23superman – aside from a brief flirtation again in high school.
Both were, though, movements, to be sure.
Nothing compares with the Facebook revolution, though. I had never been more harassed about anything than for not being on The Facebook, as I knew it until it changed to Facebook after a $200,000 purchase of that domain just as I moved into my first apartment to begin my sophomore year at Temple in August 2005.
Quiet girls would wonder why, and buddies would tell me that was how women could be most efficiently lured, attracted and won.
I first started wavering on my stand against Facebook as I moved out of my Philadelphia rowhome and made my first professional step. A friend mentioned he got a job he liked when an employer made a search on Facebook. I have thought about the move for months, as I have increased my Internet presence and realized the power of branding one’s name.
What’s more, there is actually great pressure on young journalists interested in new media to get on board with all of these social networking devices. For one, we are supposed to use these sites to push traffic to our Web sites, another requirement of the Web savvy, professional journalist. Facebook is step one in youth-based professional benefit, in I am on Facebook, so an employer should hire me because I can reinvent social networking for his business, make him tons of money and hook up his stereo system.
In recent days, I asked questions of number of my friends whose professional knowledge I respect, and learned Facebook doesn’t have to be the waste of time it is for most. I asked new media purveyor Howard Owens and was shouted out on his technology blog after I e-mailed him.
His answer didn’t entirely fulfill my question, but someone who commented on his blog made me look further into bending in my disinterest in the site. was a focus of a previous post of his, looking into owning a Google search of her name, so employers get what she wants them to get. Claire St. Amant made this comment:
I have noticed significant increases in traffic on my site since joining wiredjournalists, linkedin, and opening the privacy settings on my facebook account…. As Howard… told me once, those journalists who don’t join online communities miss out on a lot of networking and professional development. I’m a newbie at all this tech-journalism stuff, but I can already see the value. If the idea is to gain a web presence and “own your name,” then it wouldn’t be prudent to join more networks than you can keep active.
This is what I am supposed to do. Beyond that, though, I understand and appreciate the value of commanding control over Web searches of my name and my work. It is branding paid in time only. Your name will be the great commodity of the 21st century, and Facebook, it seems, is a battleground.
I noticed Claire hasn’t used her name for a public address to her LinkedIn page – mine is www.linkedin.com/in/christopherwink – but then I am a little surprised and disappointed I can’t alter my direct address on Facebook, like www.facebook.com/members/christopherwink, which would be a nice boon to my searchability, but, I hope this site takes most available space.
Regardless, this afternoon, it finally happened. After all the hounding, hours after I gave my last explanation that, no, I don’t have Facebook, I was on Facebook – a slow day before a long night in Capitol during budget negotiations helped.
What was startling was that in a half hour, I had 30 “friends.” Now, I have nearly 100. Surely, my long holding out helped – I got some mention of surprise from very nearly every single person who connected with me on the site. What’s more, I did see a flow of traffic to my site. I found more than 15 hits to blog posts that came from Facebook – having set up an RSS feed on my Facebook page.
Granted, these are high school friends and college buddies. These hits are people who don’t much care about my Web presence but spend plenty of time on Facebook. My site, like my presence on Facebook, is a novelty will die down quickly. I will be interested to see if any of that traffic remains.
What I am happy to report is that I turned off all my e-mail notifications from Facebook, so I will be very content with nothing more than it sitting where it is, directing traffic to this site, allowing me to have a central Web presence. I have expanded my footing online, without adding – I hope – much work.