Posts Tagged ‘online

04
Sep
10

Facebook, the good, the bad and the ugly profile pic!


I’ve had my Facebook page for a while now. The original purpose was genuine. Hooking up with family abroad, my students and long-lost friends was like the Holy Grail to me. But what you are not aware of is that when you drink too much from that cup things turn pretty bad.

I was pondering upon a very serious thought lately. I never had so many friends or family. How come I’m hitting records on Facebook? And mind you, I am humbled and dwarfed compared to others who end up with thousands of friends. Which pushes me to reflect on the true meaning of friendship…

After a while, I noticed that Facebook actually fulfills one paramount role, and one only: Giving you that ego boost which real friends never managed to provide. Facebook finally is our way to “ask” for attention where none is given. Our eternal quest to make valuable or meaningful statements is undermined by the number of those people willing to listen to us. Facebook is the perfect platform to accumulate “friends”, shout those statements and “make” them listen.

Honestly, why would anyone care if you’re having Cajun chicken for lunch or your “eyes are smiling but heart is crying”, or “if you have a sister and love her, post this on your profile”? And the worst of all is how we found in Facebook the ultimate podium to express how politically stupid we are by displaying our sheepish attitude.

But then again, people love it, use it and… abuse it. Millions of users, including yours truly, have turned Facebook into the largest cyber-city ever created. That’s good, until it turns ugly.

I recently witnessed a “wall” row over some stupid political topic between two “friends”. The ping-pong went on for days. Suddenly, email, telephone, face to face and decency were lost on the “wall”!

One more thing I noticed is how people want to become your friend for one reason, spying! Thank God you can put them on that limited profile thing. But why do you have to do that? Why can’t you simply ignore their friend request? I mean, in real life you would simply ignore them and make them fade away. Why can’t we do the same on Facebook?

The psychology of Facebook is an amazing web of intricacies that has been weaved by our insecurities, crave for fame and lack of self-confidence. What’s worse is the fact that even organizations and businesses are suffering from those symptoms. If a business can’t get its Facebook page right…..

And what’s with the groups thing? It started in the form of small and cute “alumni” and ended up having a group for every saint, politician, geek, nerd, jerk and sick topic you could ever imagine. You join the group because you’re too shy to say no, and that’s it! You never visit or interact. It’s like being a junk collector. Your profile ends looking more like a junkyard.

Oh, and applications and games! Amazing, if your monitor your friends, you’ll find out that most of them play games during work hours! Go ahead, check it! Productivity at its best.

I can tell now that Facebook has lost its raison-d’être. And for me, this is the first sign of decline. How interesting can it keep getting? Every hype reaches a ceiling ultimately. If I were to foretell the future, that’s what I would see:

  1. Facebook will migrate to become a big tunnel, a corridor, through which people come and people go. This will defeat the purpose of long-term online friendships. Your friends will get bored and sign-off, eventually you will too. If you don’t, you will start seeing your wall slowly degenerate into an empty space populated by random boring posts.
  2. You and your friends would have depleted all your stock of tricks, jokes, gimmicks, and bragging. You will all lose interest and Facebook will become a cemetery of wishes.
  3. more older adults, businesses and senior citizens will be the dominant users. In the U.S. currently users above 25 years old, all the way to 65 and above constitute 65% of all users. Those between 35 and 44 are 17%, and those between 45 and 54 are 12.5%.

  1. Other formats of social networking are taking over the worldwide web by storm. Twitter is becoming a favorite of interaction which is more intellectually rewarding, less cluttered, and definitely less full of junk. The concept of “following” people is by itself a different concept than accumulating friends. You actually choose who you follow based on their positive input on your intellect and positive impact on your life.
  2. You will be less interested in when your friend burps and more interested in where they are now or what they are doing instantly. Augmented reality, geotagging, locational networking such as Foursquare will become dominant because they provide instant reward and help hook you up with your friends based on both your behavior pattern.
  3. Facebook still lacks the bridge between what you’re doing right now and what you publish. Most of the time, you either publish what you intend to do or what you have already done. This time-gap will be felt as a handicap compared to other tools that publish your immediate happenings.
  4. Your iPhone (or any other smart phone) are becoming sophisticated gaming devices with in-app purchases and online scoring, etc. Facebook apps and games will slowly become redundant. Their aim to mainly generate income through advertising will be the cause of their demise. Advertisers are becoming more interested in pushing ads based on where you are and what you are doing now, and how you do it. Advertising through mobile apps eventually will be more effective.
  5. With higher bandwidth and better online-desktop integration, photo, video and music sharing, some of the core tools of Facebook will migrate to those websites that are more dedicated and can provide more effective management means (Flickr, YouTube, Ping, etc.)
  6. If you notice, Facebook is becoming more and more a business tool. I, for example publish to Facebook most of my business tweets. Many of my friends have suddenly started doing the same. This leads to many if your friends deciding to open Twitter accounts and start following you and vice versa.

Facebook will surely be here for a while. Undeniably, it has reshuffled all our pre-conceptions of social networking and has paved the way for the new era of connecting people online. The way it has impacted our cyber-lives will be the foundation for all new ways and means to interact. It took the internet years to reach 500 million users; it took Facebook just 2!

For now, please, for the sake of the collective sanity, refrain from publishing when you undergo colonoscopies, have fever or simply have been dumped by your lover. If you insist on publishing pics of you that hardly look like you, remember that most of your so-called “friends” are actually mere acquaintances.

Last but not least, recruiters are using more and more Facebook to analyze the psychology and social behavior of their potential new staff. So, if you badly need that job, don’t put on your status what you think of your current job or what how drunk you were the night before…

©2010 – Ibrahim Lahoud

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04
Aug
10

To be Four and square!


I joined Foursquare a while ago and started fiddling around with it. Then, one day, it struck me; that’s one hell of image-building tool.

When I say image-building, I do not say good or bad. All I say is that by publicizing your whereabouts, people can start slowly profiling your personality. Elements like “when” you get to work, when you leave work; what time you go out at night, and what time you get back home (if you do…).

Our self-branding is conditioned today not by who we are. In the digital realm, very few people of our virtual entourage know who we really are… (Yes, I am talking to you Mr. 55 years old who pretends he still is in high-school) What counts in the digital reality is what we do and how we do it. Real or fake, our online behavior is the embodiment of our personality. Don’t you just love those Facebook status updates like “Off to France tonight”. The poor guy is traveling coach to a presentation in the suburbs of the French capital, staying in a 2 stars Auberge for one night and flying back home the next morning! But hey, who cares? He never said that! All he said was “Off to France tonight”; and everyone thought -with jealousy that he’s going to Cannes for the awards!

When I started with Foursquare, I noticed that most of my check-ins where home and work… Yeah, yeah, pathetic I know. And that’s when I saw the light and heard the Wagner music… People will think one thing: Pathetic!

I humbly know that I am slightly above pathetic and working hard on it, and I did not want to be perceived wrongly via a small app on my iPhone! (yes, I do have an iPhone and that’s why I said “slightly” above pathetic!) I later realized that I can check-in at virtually every location I head to and started making things better! Now I am getting more and more friends requests on Foursquare and my virtual self-esteem starts to measure in megabytes instead of bytes! I am even a Mayor of two locations…

What? Which locations? Damn! Ok, it’s my office and… my mom’s home. Happy?!

Another amazing fact is how the integration of social media and location-aware tools is helping people build more accurate profiles of each other. However hard we try, we can  never be fully consistent across all the social mediums we use. We reveal different bits and pieces of ourselves every time we post something. Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare etc. force us to behave differently, to display hybrid aspects of our persona, sometimes even clashing ones. On Facebook, you see yourself interacting more intimately with your friends, while on Twitter things could get a little more public and, there you try to retain a more composed attitude especially if you’re a business tweeter. On Foursquare, we get the feeling that the location-aware tool is more tailored for the outings rather than the whereabouts. You want to publicize more going to Gemmayzeh for the evening (and the night) than going home or work or a meeting (like miserable me).

Is that good? I guess it is. It’s like asking if it’s good to spend more time on a computer. 10 years ago, the answer would have been yes, but today? What else can you do? Computers run our lives. Hell! They are our lives (aaaah shut up you “go out and live” advocates!); so are social media. Retrospectively, you can notice how important the impact of Facebook was and still is on your life. Twitter helped connecting me to wonderful people it would have taken me a lifetime to meet otherwise. Thanks to Twitter, I know more about my business, I discover things, insights. It’s pure revelation.

Facebook kept me in touch with my favorite universe, my students. It’s like watching your own children grow. You see them find a job, get engaged, get married (morons!). It’s beautiful! (well until you get to the married part 😉

Them came Foursquare! They used to know what I feel and what I do. Now they know where I am. I guess the loop is closed. We live in the Matrix! I am not going to strategize on whether it’s good or bad. But, since we’re there, let’s make the best of it!

So go, update your status now and tell people a nice white lie and get that ego off the ground for the rest of the day.

Throw some nice tweet (from your cellphone, it’s cooler) and enlighten everyone with an insight about your job.

And while doing all the above, tell us where you’re doing it from (No toilets please).

The biggest revelation of the digital universe is the fact that we call it a “Universe”.

© 2010 Ibrahim Lahoud

02
Aug
10

Is your stationery too stationary?


How many first contacts have you done lately through an email? If the answer is one or more, you should have a serious look at your email layout template.

It is surprising how much we neglect our emails. Signatures, fonts, format, even language tone are becoming very essential elements of branding an organization through email. Given the fact that nowadays, we send emails more than any other form of communication, it makes sense to invest more effort in making sure emails sent out of an organization are consistent with the brand and with each other.

The language uses is one of the most neglected elements of correspondence at large. With emails, and since they sometimes act more like a chat conversation exchange, we have a tendency to get more casual or intimate with our interlocutor which, is good if we respect the boundaries of business and the organization’s brand.

Signatures and layout are another very essential element of an email. With the advent of html formatting, creating appealing emails became an easy task… Sometimes too easy it creates a mess by allowing anyone to apply their own formatting… depending on their mood. Nothing harms a brand like personal branding initiative. Although sometimes done with good will, these alterations can prove sometimes detrimental. Emails are usually one aspect of the corporate stationery that gets neglected the most.

When we used to write letters, we somehow used to be more careful. This is because we had full control over many elements like the choice of paper, writing tool, our own handwriting which personalized the whole experience, and of course the “warmth” associated with hand-writing a letter. With the advent of email, and the accessibility and speed of delivery and reception, it ended up becoming more of a conversation rather than a correspondence tool. We all know that conversations always create a casual sense of intimacy. And thus emails end up using more slang, abbreviations and casual tones. The danger behind that is the fact it sends mixed and sometimes misleading messages.

We should start looking seriously at our email system as the most important tool of correspondence available and give it the attention it needs. Today, most branding firms have included the email template development in their offering as an intrinsic part of the corporate stationery.

The design and development of email templates are not anymore an option. Come to think about it, they are more a necessity than your letterhead!

©2010 Ibrahim Lahoud. No part or whole of this article can be published without prior consent from author



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Reason To Believe by Ibrahim N. Lahoud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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