Ask a majority of the population, "What is Facebook good for?"
And most will tell you two words: wasting time.
If I counted the number of hours I spend on Facebook a week, I'd delete my account, plain and simple. I don't want to know the amount of time I waste trolling on my newsfeed while looking for constant entertainment. To me, the newsfeed has an uncontrollable lure like my fridge after I've gone grocery shopping: it's a buffet of gloriously tasty tidbits, especially when my favorite online friends post punny jokes.
(What happened to the cow that jumped over the barbed wire fence? ... Udder destruction.)
But, then there are my not-so-favorite users who post about bodily excrements (hi, sorry if you can't digest Taco Bell; you're not 13 any more) or boast about their third workout in one morning. To both Facebook types: I hate you, but I can't bring myself to defriend you because you either curiously draw my attention or shame me into working out.
My chart-topping pet peeve, though, is when people post 3D sonograms of their children on Facebook. Maybe "pet peeve" isn't the right word... I'm grasping, here. Maybe spotting a black and white floating blob -- when I'm instead hoping for an Instagram photo of a bad ass ice cream sundae -- is a gross, terrifying let down.
At the same time, I'm a marketing consultant and social media coach, so I have to love Facebook despite my 'peeves. I help businesses across the nation brand and market themselves through customized Facebook pages and, in turn, have watched them build their fan base one "Like" at a time.
Beyond my beloved plays on words and business branding efforts, I recently saw Facebook in a different, awe-inspiring light. Early one Sunday morning, I navigated to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Facebook page, who's known as an international humanitarian and spiritual advisor. I've worked with him during the past, and he and his team have kept me up-to-date on their massive, global peace rallies and other events.
On that day, once I navigated to Sri Sri's page, I clicked on a live link like I would have with an online work webinar. Before I knew it, I was connected -- in real time -- to more than 1 million people from 148 countries for the world's largest online meditation session.
During the video stream, people were free to chat with one another while Sri Sri took questions from his virtual audience. He spoke about ideals and positive perspectives, talked about himself and his upbringing, and then began his widely anticipated global meditation session.
The meditation lasted for about 12 minutes, and Sri Sri had us work on controlling our breathing, relaxing our facial muscles and closing our eyes. With each breath, I felt more and more relaxed, and realized just how much my physiological symptoms increase my stress levels on a daily basis. Near to the end of the session, I abruptly paused and realized that, in the moment, I was connected to more than one million people, be them my friends or foes.
After the session ended, I got to thinking about my recent connection. People weren't there for a live Q&A session with Kanye, Kim and North West. Nor were they there in hopes of being one of the first 100 people to snatch a VIP promo code from Apple for the new iPhone 6 ½. Instead, they gathered in real time to call for world peace. If you ask me, that concept's pretty rare among society as a whole, let alone social media.
A couple of days later, I evaluated how I use Facebook, and concluded that I largely use it for my own selfish motives. I "Like" pages to get product offers, and I interact with friends to stay privy to the social scene. In short, I'm nosy and like to see who posts what and where.
If that self realization wasn't bad, I then clicked on the "About" tab on my profile to see how I publicly convey myself. Embarrassingly enough, there's nothing even remotely humanitarian about my online presence. I'm not in any women's groups. I'm not promoting awareness about depression and food allergies, and I'm not actively partaking in live worldly discussions. Yet, here I am, a health and lifestyle writer.
In my current state of shame, I messaged my friend Todd to gather his input:
"Why do you use Facebook?"
"To see girls in bathing suits," he responded, "Or to look at people I don't like to size their jowls."
(Yeah, yeah, yeah.)
All laughter aside, though, how many of you can relate to Todd? While we're not all exactly like him, I guarantee that most of us use Facebook for general self-seeking purposes. After all, the core of it is for social networking.
But, what if humanitarians started speaking up more on platforms like Facebook, and we started listening more? What if we started using Facebook more for real time, global collaborations as a way to unite strangers on common ground? Sure, I bet some bad would come out of it. But, I bet that the good that would inevitably result would only exponentially increase.
To all of my friends, don't worry. I'm not going to become an online meditating advisor any time soon. I'll leave that up to the professionals who know what they're doing. For now, I'm going to check Amanda Bynes' page one final, last time and then go back to the drawing board.
It's time for me to get down to business: I've got some serious Facebook tweaking to do.