I totally get it. Your life is perfectly fine without Facebook. You are personally connected to all the people who are important to you. You don’t need to read about what they had for dinner last night because they tell you in person, every day. You have not succumbed to the societal pressures of social networking. Good for you!
Except, well, there are ways to use Facebook that have nothing to do with trying to decide whether to accept the friend request from your high school sweetheart or wanting to unfriend your first cousin once removed because you don’t care for his political views.
According to the Pew Research Center, 39 percent of Americans use Facebook for political news. And since Facebook rolled out Instant Articles last year, many large media companies, including the New York Times and the Washington Post are publishing content specifically for Facebook’s mobile app. But even if you don’t use Facebook mobile, it’s still easier than ever to access news videos, photos and written content on Facebook. Follow your favorite media outlets – local, national, international – in one easy-to-access location.
Are you a music, cycling, film, cooking or fill-in-the-blank fan? Your favorite magazine, speciality business, artist, blog, cause, public figure, product, etc. is probably on Facebook. Like their official page. And if you really need to see everything that Justin Bieber (or fill in the blank) posts, after liking his official Page, adjust your News Feed Preferences (click on the down arrow in the top right-hand corner of your Facebook page) and prioritize him.
Take your special interest a bit further by creating or joining a group on Facebook. Do you love hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains? Join the Hike the Smokies public group where you can post photos, give trail advice and connect with people who share your common love of the Smokies. Want to keep your family’s Facebook interactions private? Create a secret group that only you and the people you invite to join can see.
You don’t know what you don’t know. But thanks to the spectacular educational tool known as Facebook, you can learn. Maybe you have friends who are great content curators and their posts are full of links to geeky content. Or if you don’t have nerdy friends, check out Stephen Hawking’s Facebook Page. You might be able to learn something from him.
Some psychologists and communications researchers say that using Facebook benefits us by building social capital. What is that and why should you care? The Oxford Dictionaries defines social capital as the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively. So the more people you know and who know you, the more you can do to help them and they more they can do to help you. So it is possible that liking your high school sweetheart on Facebook means you’ll be making the world a better place.
The bonus of using Facebook in these ways is that you’re doing it all on one site instead of surfing multiple sites. And yes, Facebook can be a big time suck. If you’re concerned, set a time limit and stick to it. Facebook is just one tool for entertainment, inspiration, education and social networking. Don’t forget to use the others too.