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I’m growing a little tired of writing educational ‘How to’ blogs and showy-offy client case studies, so here’s a personal blog. If you don’t like this kind of thing, then get out now. Also be warned: there’s plenty more where this came from.

Poor old Facebook. It gets a hard time, right?

If it’s not selling our personal data to marketers, it’s passing on our intimate bits and bobs to the CIA and MI5. Assange called Facebook “the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented.” Pretty harsh.

Then there’s the fact that it’s causing a moral breakdown in our society, creating a generation of sociopaths and hermits. It’s blamed for corrupting the English language by encouraging all those foul LOLs and LMCOs. It’s killing the old social sites that we hold dear – like MySpace and … no, I’ve forgotten the others and that’s all Facebook’s fault!

Even those who do like Facebook really hate it.

They hate the arbitrary interface changes, the status-related advertising; they hate the privacy settings, the endless opting in and out of features. (Okay, even I hate that.) Facebook is the very definition of a site that we just LOVE to HATE.

But, in an extremely unEnglish attitude, I’d like to point out my three Facebook positives, and why I love the site despite it’s its many indiscretions.

Reason one – hello, old friend

Yesterday I met up with a work colleague, a previous client who is now employing me to help write some copy. We’ll call her ‘Claire’. (Why not, as that’s her name.) We greeted each other like old friends, chit chatted about recent events, holidays, family and all that guff.

Then it struck me. I hadn’t actually seen her face to face for about four years. Even then we only met a handful of times and yet I felt like she was an old friend. Why? Well, back in the day I’d liked her enough to friend her on Facebook. I meet a lot of people in my line of work but don’t invite all of them into the bosom of my Facebook family. I base my friending on a ‘could I meet them for a coffee and have a giggle with them’ criteria. Claire had made the cut and over the years we’d commented and ‘liked’ our way to a virtual friendship that far surpassed our real one. Thumbs up to Facebook for that.

Reason two – it’s good for business, sort of

I rather pretentiously have a business Facebook page. It was a big step for my ego to get one of these and often I wonder why, as it hasn’t generated a single viable lead. But I love the way it connects me to random people.

I’ve discussed poetry and English crisps with Sean from Queensland, exchanged banter with a host of witty copywriters from across the globe, had my poems critiqued by mums in Alabama and been inspired by the array of clever folk who’ve ‘liked’ my page. Furthermore, I’ve turned virtual work colleagues into real-life work confidantes. I recently met up with a certain flame-haired copywriter in Melbourne. We ate dumplings and drank beer. All because of Facebook. Cool, huh?

Living in a smallish, countryish town in Australia, how else would I get this kind of interaction? It’s been said before but Facebook is my virtual water cooler – on an international scale. I agree.

Reason three – It makes me cleverer, or something – whatever!

We only recently got a telly and now the aerial’s broken and I can’t be bothered to fix it. I don’t read newspapers or listen to the radio. I don’t subscribe to online news feeds or have a plethora of apps on my iPad. By choice, I pretty much live in a media-free cocoon. So one of my only sources of ‘news’ is Facebook. A friend posts about a recent event, and if I’m not aware of it, I Google it or check it out on BBC news. I also love the debate (intelligent or otherwise) about issues.

Past comment marathons in my Facebook world have included the jubilant reaction of Americans to Osama’s death, ‘Carbon Tax – good or bad?’, ‘Should Australians celebrate Halloween?’ and the media frenzy surrounding serial killers. Reading and interacting in these online debates keeps my brain pointy.

I’m not a huge fan of ‘liking’ business pages (they do so clog up your newsfeed) but I’ve ‘liked’ a few and my choices deliver a steady stream of articles. They’re packed with insights about the internet, the environment, politics, writing and so on. They form my virtual news-clipping service. I’m also not sure how I survived before I found ‘The Oatmeal’.

So there you go, three personal reasons for loving Facebook. Three ways in which it enhances my little life. If the cost of this is them selling my status update, ‘Thank Buddha bananas are finally affordable again‘ or ’Any tips on potty training my two-year-old?’ to the CIA, then so be it.

So do you love or loathe Facebook?

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confessions of a misfit entrepreneur with Kate Toon

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