Are We All Relying Just a Little Too Much on Facebook?

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Facebook screenshotFacebook screenshotMy wife was featured on The Food Network a few weeks ago.

I say this not to boast or to call out how wonderful she is; rather, I do so to point out what a complete failure I was in telling our friends and family to tune in. My strategy for promotion was very simple: two posts on my Facebook wall on consecutive days announcing the day and time of the airing of the show. Surely all of my friends and family would see the post. And if not, those who did would definitely share it with those who didn’t, right?

Wrong.

To my surprise, a lot of friends did not see my post (or just claimed that they didn’t to rid themselves of the obligation of watching a show that they otherwise wouldn’t care about). Over the next few days, I started getting emails and voice mails saying things to the effect of “You never tell me anything, son” (“son” was meant literally and not as a figure of speech -– the message was from my Dad) and “Why didn’t you tell me that your wife was on TV?!” So that got me asking two questions: Has Facebook become the default way for us to update each other on everything from the trivial (“I just ate an apple!”) to the important (“I just gave birth!”)? And if so, is it out of laziness or is there another reason behind it?

Let’s tackle the second question first. Surely there were other alternatives to getting the word out about my wife’s TV appearance. I could have called people. The drawback: having to endure the unavoidable small talk. Too time-consuming. I could have sent out a mass e-mail. The drawback: having to figure out which friends/family to send the email to, and then making sure that I have each correct e-mail address. Too much hassle. Facebook provided me with the only solution that was easy and didn’t require me to have any communication at all with other people. So yes, laziness definitely played in to the equation, as did my desire to avoid any sort of human interaction. What that says about me as a person is a topic for another time (preferably with my therapist or Larry David).

As for whether Facebook is now the default way that everything gets communicated, looking at my News Feed it is hard to argue otherwise. In just the last five minutes, I discovered that one friend just bought a new car, another is newly single, and a third is just “really high on life right now.” Just a few years ago, I would probably have gotten phone calls from each one of these friends – or at the very least personal text messages –- sharing the news with me (except for the “high on life” friend who is probably too busy marveling at the double rainbow outside his window to put a coherent thought together). The point is, as with my post about my wife on TV, Facebook makes it so darn easy to announce anything and it creates the illusion that every one of your friends will not only see it, but actually care about it too. And as with the post about my wife on TV, I learned that everyone getting that message is in fact an illusion.

Having learned that lesson, what will I do the next time I have something important to announce? I’m not sure yet, I’m hoping that the Facebook poll I just created about this topic will help shed some light.

Oren Katzeff is the General Manager of Cracked.com. You can follow Oren on Twitter at @SmooveO.

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