Siren Song of Facebook ~ What Keeps Us Keep Coming Back

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My brother isn’t on Facebook. I’ve tried to sell him on it but then I retreat, thinking maybe he’s better off not even starting.

There have been months when I took a break from Facebook, never giving it much thought. I didn’t suffer withdrawal symptoms or feel as if I was missing out. Yet at other times in my life, I logged on 10+ times a day or more.

Why?

What is the lure of Facebook?

Siren song of Facebook

A few years back, some friends separately made offhanded comments about not wanting to give a Certain Someone the satisfaction of having seen their Facebook posts.

Two mentioned how they purposely didn’t give the person’s post a “Like.” Another acted like she hadn’t seen the post when this person mentioned it in conversation.

How interesting. I’ve done this too. Other people do this? I was shocked.

These friends of mine said this within weeks of each other, and they both talked about not wanting to acknowledge different people’s posts.

I started thinking about the siren song of Facebook and the social components that go along with it.

  • Why do we love Facebook so much?
  • What hooks us and keeps us coming back for more, often multiple times a day?
  • How did Facebook permeate into our lives so quickly?
  • Why is it a go-to when we have a few minutes to spare?
  • How did it become a habit?
  • Why do we give a Like to some people’s Posts but not others?
  • Why are we so addicted?!
Siren song of Facebook
Siren song of Facebook… (Photo credit: Philippe Put)

What’s so great about Facebook?

The big picture is that Facebook enables us to keep in touch with anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Facebook lets us connect with people from our past. It offers us a chance to keep in touch with people we would like to know better.

It keeps us connected with our friends, neighbors, and family.

Facebook enables us to learn about people – read: spy on people — we aren’t Facebook friends with.

It gives us a glimpse into our friends’ and families’ lives we never had before.

It makes us feel connected wherever we are, regardless of what we are doing.

Facebook allows us to truly never have to say “goodbye” to anyone living ever again.  If someone is on Facebook, we have a means to access them 24/7.

Facebook is so convenient

This medium has worked its way into our daily lives and has become a habit for millions of people. It’s powerful and connects us in ways never before possible much less even thought of.

It’s so convenient too. We can access Facebook from our smartphones when we wake up and before going to bed. We can catch up on the latest “news” — real and social — and keep in touch whenever we want to. It’s awesome.

There’s new news whenever you log on Facebook

You just never know what you will see when you log on, which is part of the allure.

I liken it to shopping at a garage sale. It’s never the same twice, and you will never know what you will find (out).

Lately, I’ve been popping onto Facebook just to check my Notifications and Messages.

After that, so I don’t get too sucked in, I go to my News Feed and only view the first 10 Posts.

I can keep up with friends, hit Like a few times, and curtail my time on Facebook so that I don’t use (waste) more time than I intend to. After doing it just a few times — not a very scientific study — Posts will most often fall into these basic categories:

  • Accomplishment or attention-seeking news: new job, straight As, home run, broken arm, etc.
  • Celebration
  • Travel
  • Observation or witty remark
  • Repost of an article or quote: inspirational, health, mom blog, etc.
  • Photo: sunset, ocean, dog, etc.
  • Food or recipe
  • Politics – Ugh! In years past, this was a non-issue. However, lately, posting political arguments on Facebook is more common.

Try it a few times. You will see the trend too. This really proved to the be case when I logged into Facebook on National Dog Day!

Facebook links us to a community

What does Facebook do for us?

Facebook gives us a chance to seek opinions, to ask for support, to gain attention, to show off, to keep in touch, to share our news.

In so very many ways, Facebook is great. I learned about Elf on the Shelf from Facebook. I learned about two great pumpkin patches to take my kids to. I’ve seen cool recipes (not that I tried any but they look good); holiday crafty things; and restaurants to try.

I get book recommendations from moms who I believe enjoy what I enjoy.

It’s exciting to see where friends’ kids are going to college. I join in the conversations about some of my favorite television shows and favorite sports teams.

It’s great being able to connect in this way.

Facebook helps us to know people better

I can see my talented friends and their bakery-worthy cookies, cakes and desserts.

Now I know I have four friends who make amazing cakes and themed cookies, and how Alison, who works full time and has three kids at three different schools, has the desire and talent to craft incredible themed birthday cakes for her children.

I press Like and go about my day, feeling a bit jealous and wondering what the heck I do with all of my time. But it’s all good.

I learn what people are eating for dinner – either cooking it themselves or maybe their significant other made it (Like, Like). Maybe they are out a cool restaurant that I may now consider going to. It’s all easy-going, lighthearted fun.

Press Like if you want to, and go on your merry way raiding your refrigerator thinking about all that great food. It really doesn’t matter either way.

Logging onto Facebook, I see that Sarah is on vacation in Belize, and it makes me motivated to start thinking about where my next trip will be. I am not jealous. I am not competitive. It makes me happy to see people healthy and employed enough to be going on vacation.

Who doesn’t love to see Santa photos, births, vacations, first day of school pictures, and witty comments?

I learned my one friend wrote a series of books, and that the first one was being released. (Yes, I bought it.) I learned another was having her third child and then fourth and then fifth. (How she has time for Facebook, I have no idea.) There’s another who always makes a great to-do about her family’s holiday card. I love staying tuned to see what the theme is and what her family dresses as each year.

Even more fun, I get to learn a little bit more about my kids’ teachers.

Facebook is free, innocent, harmless fun

The opportunities for entertainment are endless. Someone is always posting something you haven’t seen.

Feeling bored?  Log on Facebook.

Procrastinating?  Log on Facebook.

Waking up and too tired to get out of bed and face the day?  Log on Facebook.

Have seven minutes waiting in the car pickup line at school?  Log on Facebook.

Sitting at your child’s dance or karate practice?  Log on Facebook.

It’s fun to see what everyone is doing that day or what they are getting ready to do or where they’ve been. It becomes an escape from our everyday lives.

Exhausted moms love to veg out on Facebook. Facebook asks nothing of us and gives us plenty in return.

Gives us the attaboys we crave

Feeling down, bored, or even happy?

You can get instant attaboys and attention from posting something on your Facebook wall. Whether you have hundred of Facebook friends or just a few, chances are you will get a good percentage of Likes and Comments to any post you make. It’s a great way to get some attention.

Is “Multitasking” your middle name?

What’s also interesting is that being on Facebook really plays into people’s multitasking tendencies. I often purposefully log onto Facebook to look something up but become sidetracked by something else and soon I’ve ADHD-ed my way over many Posts in my News Feed only to eventually surface realizing I never looked up what I came to look up.

Has this ever happened to you?

(I really do feel like I’m “resurfacing” when I’m in Facebookland after awhile. I wonder if this is how my children feel after they break away from their iPad games and YouTube videos?)

Facebook gives us something to talk about

Facebook has come to my rescue so many times.

Do you find you have some Facebook friends you see in real life — real, actual, reach-out-and-touch-you life, not social media life — and you can talk about a thousand different things with them? Then there are others that when you see them that you can’t really think of anything to say?

It’s Facebook to the rescue!

Immediately I can call to mind something I scrolled past about their child or their vacation or their pregnancy or their birthday or something. Countless times, Facebook has helped alleviate some otherwise awkward encounters. It has given us a starting point.

Facebook offers drama

Sometimes, I will see cliffhanger posts or the occasional family argument or political posts.

The beauty of Facebook is that you can remain friends with these people but click to not see their Posts in your News Feed. It’s a great feature because they become essentially free from your life. It’s fantastic! If you ever want to see what they are up to, just search their name, and see their recent Posts. You can even click Like on one of them if you are so inclined.

You are still Facebook friends, and they will be none the wiser that you aren’t seeing their every Post.

[I have only taken the extreme measure of Unfriending Facebook friends three times. ]

Real news, not Facebook friend news

What’s so great about Facebook is learning actual news, not my Facebook friend news.

I’ve learned more about current events, international news, weather stories, and trending events than I do from actually watching the news on television.

I also learn lots about celebrities that I don’t know or care about. Isn’t it hard enough keeping up and keeping in touch with my actual friends’ and family happenings without concerning myself with people I have zero relationship with?

However, I’m now aware of notable breakups and hookups, illnesses, charity work, accidents, deaths, and interesting baby names. And I didn’t have to buy a magazine to catch up!

Facebook friend news

There isn’t a conceivable way to keep up with hundreds of people on your own. What’s great about Facebook is that everyone can easily share their news about engagements, weddings, adoptions, pregnancies, births, birthdays, graduations, moves, new jobs, and reunions. While sad, it’s also a wonderful place to learn of people’s illnesses and deaths. There is so little we can do to help people sometimes, especially since we often live far away. What a blessing it is to be able to ask for help or to offer your support, your positive vibes or prayers, your memories, and your condolences.

We also love Facebook birthdays. It’s super-easy to reach out to your Facebook community of friends and wish them a Happy Birthday on their special day.

Facebook has easy, basic rules

Your role as a Facebook user is to be a good citizen. You are in a community, after all.

But after that, there’s no obligation. Sure, there are some simple etiquette rules. Basically, be respectful of others, and treat others the way you would like to be treated. These are things we all should have learned long ago and so things usually go along fine.

After that, you have the choice to Like or Comment or not. Usually, no one knows or cares. Luckily there isn’t a way to know who has seen your Posts unless you are in a Facebook Group.

It’s easy to set up a Facebook group

Are you in a club or in a group? Set up a members-only Facebook group and invite everyone in it to confidentially post information, discuss and interact.

You can set your Facebook account so that you are Notified whenever someone posts to the group. A cool feature is that you can see who has seen that post which keeps everyone accountable.

An example of this is a Book Club Facebook group I’m in. It’s hard to say I didn’t know about a location change when it shows plain as day that I scrolled past the post about it. (It doesn’t mean I read it, only that I was aware of it and presumably did read it. It is up to me to go back and read it because it would appear to the group that I saw it.)

Find blasts from the past on Facebook

Then there’s the dicey-er stuff.

There are the former boyfriends (and girlfriends). Who doesn’t love that chance to see someone from our past? Is he married and to whom? Where does he live and what does he do for a living? It will make you glad you aren’t with that person or perhaps might make you wish you were. At the very least, you might take a few minutes to think how your life may have turned out very differently.

Facebook takes us back to a time and place when we had different responsibilities. It allows us to go back and reflect. It’s an escape.

Cyber sleuthing on Facebook

Then there’s looking up people on Facebook you aren’t friends with just to learn more about them. Hey, people are doing it all the time! It has helped me connect the dots on “who is who” given my recent move. I can only ask someone his/her name so many times before I look either clueless or rude. Now, when I can’t remember who is who, I can see his/her face on Facebook plain as day.

It’s a great tool to see who knows who (Mutual Friends), where people grew up and went to school, if they have kids, etc.

Facebook is the drug of choice… the siren song of Facebook

It’s really no longer a question of what makes Facebook so great. We are hooked! People now wonder how to spend less time on Facebook. And what is the best way to still be on it but to limit time on Facebook? Still others are giving up Facebook for weeks.

Facebook is great for so many reasons! It’s no wonder billions of people love Facebook.

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