Friday, October 26, 2012

The World's Most Valuable Brand?

According to a recent survey, Facebook has been named “the world's most valuable brand.” I am sure that this is a reason for a round of applause. I am sure that the big boys down at Facebook, Inc. are pretty proud of themselves, even if almost 10% of the profiles on Facebook are fake or held by a holder of another profile. And, even though the stock has plummeted since being listed, it probably helps to elevate the ego of those who have designed a product that has literally drained the productivity out of millions of individuals. In this dubious survey, Facebook beat out other companies; companies that create real tangible products. It's quite amazing to think that a passing fancy is said to be the world's most popular brand. And, yes, Facebook is a
passing fancy. 

Like MySpace before it, Facebook can not hope to remain relevant for as long as say, Coca-Cola or Apple. Unlike many other successful companies, Facebook has just one product, the (a)social network that acts as a temporal vampire, draining out one's time and productivity.  Draining one's living hours on the Earth. Coca-Cola has many products, products that are craved universally by people all over the world. Apple has multiple products that are in tangible form. While one could argue that Apple products are perhaps a “fad,” the reality is that computer equipment and programs will probably be relevant for quite some time. They provide utility to the world. Facebook arguably provides only negative utility in the sense that it drains time away from people that tend to obsess over it. 

Further, Facebook's success hinges on its popularity. Once the site becomes unpopular, the stock will plummet further. And there is no doubt that Facebook's popularity has reached a pinnacle, at least in the United States and Europe. While Facebook can enter new markets and ride on its hype for a while, the reality is that people eventually get bored of creating and babysitting an internet profile. People get sick of fighting with others on the internet and feeling anxious when they see something that they don't agree with being posted. People do not like the negative feelings that are brought up when they see others bragging about “perfect” lives that they may or may not have.

Further, internet addiction is being seen as a legitimate form of addiction. At one time addiction research stated that even sex could not be addictive. However, as time passed, society has come to realize that many products can provide their users with obsessive and addictive behaviors. Many people try to shy away from things that are addictive. To label something as addictive tarnishes its image. The reality is that Facebook is a
very addictive website that has caused incredible damage to many individuals.

There are stories everywhere of people leaving Facebook. If you are still on the site, ask yourself how many of your friends have left over the past year. I am always surprised to see how many people actually are starting to come forward and claim that they no longer use Facebook. It is proof to me that the site is on its decline. That being said, (a)social media is still a
huge industry, and people will move to a new site once it pops up. It's only a matter of time before something bigger and “better” than Facebook hits the scene, and I would not want to be holding Facebook stock when that happens.

The world's most valuable brand? I don't think so, and even if Facebook (or any (a)social networking site) is the world's most valuable brand, it won't be for long. The creators of the survey forgot that part of value is expected future value. Facebook's expected future value is unknown. The site could be vaguely spoken of in five to ten years. Do you think people will still be talking about Facebook in twenty years? I do think, however, that General Motors, Pepsi, and McDonalds will still be around in that time, likely to be just as strong as they are today. With that in mind, is Facebook really the world's most valuable brand?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

(A)social networking as a tool for validating your life.

We all need validation sometimes.  Some of us more than others.  Today, more than ever, we feel that, paradoxically, we need to be both the same and different as the rest of society.  We are told to conform but be unique.  We are taught that we need to fit in to be successful, but also that the successful are those who went out and did something different.  We are told that we need to dress a certain way, following the trends of fashion as they change in a random and arbitrary manner.  We are bred to think that the ultimate life is a life where we live in a suburb in a large house with two to three kids, a car for each spouse, and a career.  We are gauged by how much money we earn.  We are told that it is bad to earn too much, but you will not be happy unless you break another arbitrary amount.  We often do not know exactly what these amounts are or what society wants from us, but we have vague impressions. 

As a result of this confusion that we live with, we often feel perplexed and unsure of ourselves.  As we get older and find that our lives are not in conformity with this ideal, or with how we imagined ourselves as turning out, we start to feel anxiety and perhaps even anger.  We look at other people in society, and those who we were close to at one time.  Did our classmates make it?  Did our cousins and friends make it?  Am I ahead of them?  And one way in which we gauge our competition is through (a)social networking.

It is easy to feel that your life does not hold up against your peers when you log onto sites such as Facebook.  You are immediately thrust into a fantasy world where pictures of imaginary lives bombard you.  You are thrown into a world where people are competing with each other constantly, trying to maintain one's own self image and self-esteem.  It's a contest in self-validation that every poor soul who is a prisoner on Facebook is deeply involved in.

It's hard to see it when you are busy living it.  But when you step away from the site and consider it with an open mind, you will start to understand that Facebook was indeed a place that confirmed many of our self-created fears about our lives and what we were "supposed" to obtain.

Facebook is a smorgasbord of competition without purpose.  We are taught that there are always people in society who will "make it" and others who will not "make it."  But we are not told exactly what "making it" is.  Therefore, as a result, we go with our own vague impressions of what "making it" is.  We post pictures of us "making it," whatever that means.  These are pictures of the events we take in, our possessions (homes, cars, spouses, children, pets), our likes, our wants, our lifestyles, and anything that we do that is above the norm.

Being proud of one's accomplishments is not a bad thing.  Bragging about them incessantly over the internet is.  Facebook bragging quickly becomes something of an obsession.  I have known people who have bought new pets, later to be neglected, for reason to show off on (a)social networking sites.  People will show off anything they can when the obsession reaches critical levels.  Pictures of clothing, food, children's clothing, etc. are things that I have seen posted.  Is such behavior normal?  I don't particularly like to use the term normal, as humanity is varied in many ways, and it is the irregularities that make people wonderful (Facebook helps destroy these irregularities).  The better question is, "would the individual, if I went to their house, show me a full spread of their new clothing, or the food that they cooked last night?"  Before Facebook I never received an e-mail from a person showing me the contents of their plate.  I was never sent a picture of a meal from a restaurant by any of my friends.  Yet now, on Facebook, such behavior is commonplace.  I had a multitude of friends who would take a picture of their food and show it off.  I was one of those people.

Eventually, I stepped back and realized that there was something seriously wrong with this activity.  I was spending a lot of time, my life, involved in this activity.  I was spending my life merely validating myself as a human.  I should not have to validate myself over the computer.  I should not, as a human, have to validate myself to anyone.  I am my own person.  What I want out of life is personal to me.  I should not feel compelled to search for some vague idea that society seems to instill in me.  Yet, when I was on Facebook I noticed that I was not the only person searching for this life.  Virtually everyone I knew had these wants and desires that they searched for, and pretended to have achieved, but were, in reality, not moving toward them.  Their lives, in the end, were at a standstill, as if they were trapped in one time period.  And that time period was the moment they let Facebook control their lives. 

I recently downloaded a new alarm clock program for the iPad.  It got favorable reviews, and I wake up early for school.  I was horrified to find out that the alarm clock had an option to wake you up and have you logged in to both Facebook and Twitter so that you could start your day with your Facebook and Twitter feeds.  There is a problem when a person becomes so obsessed with (a)social networking that they have to have these sites be the first thing that they see every day.  Is it that important to feel liked and accepted to others?   

Are you really willing to trade your life for (a)social networking? 

It is truly sad to see people wasting what could be called "the best years of their lives" on these sites.  How many people die every year driving while trying to check their status updates on these sites?  How many people would forgo time with their families to use (a)social networking sites?  I am always amazed to see people, every day, in class using Facebook instead of listening to the lectures that they are paying (or will be paying) thousands of dollars to attend.  What is the price of being obsessed to these sites?  What are we, as a society, paying, in sum, for people to completely live their lives addicted to (a)social networking?  Many laugh at such a message, saying that such sites are harmless, but when they become such an obsession with not just people in this country, but around the world, there is an epidemic.  When people have to see Facebook first thing when they awaken, when they drive, when they are in class, and lastly, right before they go to bed, there is a problem.  When a person virtually lives their life, wasting years, on (a)social networking, you have to kind of wonder, what is the point of life.  You have to ask, "what good comes out of these sites?"  In the end, I have never been able to find much that these sites give back to the world.

What has Facebook given you?  What have you achieved since signing up from Facebook?  Have you left, later to find out that your life has progressed since leaving Facebook behind?  Has Facebook interfered with your life goals?  Has it made you feel happier with your life?  Would you go back to a world without (a)social networking?   

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Has LinkedIn got you that job yet?

With today's high unemployment, one may think that doing everything that they can do to secure a job is important.  Some think that networking is the key, and will go around talking to everyone they can in order to get a job.  While this may not be a bad strategy, and one that is considered a viable job strategy, others are taking that idea of networking online using a site that has been peddled hard by the media.  And that site, the bane of the employment hunt, is called LinkedIn.

Now, I will admit, I had a LinkedIn account, and I got a lot of spam from the site saying that someone added me or wanted to put me in their list of contacts.  Sometimes it was from a person who I knew, but usually it's someone who I didn't know, often from another country.  The reality is, our connection would have never helped either of us find employment.  In essence, we were both kidding ourselves by linking up.  For example, a fisherman in Zimbabwe is probably not going to help me hook up with a job here in the United States, and I am not going to help him line up employment in Africa.  While stranger things have happened, I am not about to spend my days playing the "LinkedIn lottery."  Truth be told, LinkedIn is the kingpin of waste. 

If you think LinkedIn will land you a job, you might want to go down to the local clinic and get a lobotomy. 

(A)social networking is good for making a fool out of yourself online.  It's good for alienating you from the real world.  But it's not good for obtaining real life objectives.  That's because time spent on (a)social media is inversely related to accomplishing things out in the real world.  I say the real world, because the online world is largely imaginary. 

As an employer I would have a very hard time taking people's profiles on LinkedIn seriously.  The internet is known as the land of lies for a reason.  It's easy to fudge the truth.  People do it all the time on a regular resume, but on the internet it's even easier.  Plus, you're not just showing a piece of paper to employers, you're showing off your wonderful credentials to your friends, family, acquaintances, and those who you are competing against.  Who sends a copy of their resume to a person they don't like?  Only on LinkedIn can you add that guy from college who annoyed you and show him you got a big management position or an elite engagement happening overseas.

Other than making people jealous, LinkedIn has very little utility.  Sure, you may be able to find job hunting tips on their "amazing" forums.  So what?  You're just advertising yourself to LinkedIn "predators" who are searching for fresh blood to add to their bloated profiles.  And, like Facebook, the more people you are connected to on LinkedIn, the less of a professional life you probably have.

Say what?

You heard me.  It's hard to grasp at first.  People tend to want to think that if you have a lot of internet friends you must have a life.  But the internet is not real life.  It's just a bunch of pixels.  Sure, those people are real.  Well, sort of.  People are generally not that real on the internet.  People are far different behind closed doors and behind the light of a computer screen than they are in person.  People will write and say things online that they would never say in person.  There are little consequences to be had for lying, being a jerk, acting like a fool, or padding your LinkedIn resume with outright bulldandy. 

Do you want to make it all better right now? 

I have an amazing way for you to fix the problem with LinkedIn.  Unlink yourself from the disastrous site right now.  Delete your profile and never look back!  There's no reason for you to be there.  You're not going to find a job on the site!  Heck, you're not going to find anything on LinkedIn or any other (a)social media site except for a bunch of time wasted, heartache, and mental anguish.  You'll just upset yourself looking at the competition: competition that is built on lies. 
Are some people ready to end it all for (a)social networking?

People have a hard time deleting things from the internet.  Many have invested countless hours, sometimes hundreds of hours, in building these profiles.  Some people have invested more time in building a Facebook or LinkedIn profile than others spend building their own homes!  That just shows the extent of the problem.  But that is only the beginning.  Morning news shows have toted these sites, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, so hard that many people have been duped into believing that they are positive additions to their lives.  Some people honestly believe that they are better off by virtue of having profiles on these sites in their arsenal.  Hell, some individuals claim that sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are NECESSITIES. 

Recently I read a Weekly World News article about Facebook being shut down (a joke, obviously).  The comments were lined with people stating that they could not live without Facebook. 

Comments included:

"If this is real please kill me now."

"I can't believe it! All my data on FB! Now my aunt will never see pictures of her beloved baby again.... :'("

"no my birthday is on the 22 i will kill who ever is making this happen"

"if yall shutdown fb how can people contact to their relatives"


This was just a taste of what I found in about 2000 pages of comments.  Some people are literally (claiming) that they are ready to lay their lives down for (a)social networking.  Some claim to be ready to die for Facebook (which is highly unbelievable, but crazy nonetheless). 

Perhaps you have followed this blog for a while now.  Maybe you are new to it.  Either way, as you read through the posts you are probably thinking that there is something wrong with the way people obsess over (a)social networking.  Maybe you think that you have invested a little too much time in trying to babysit your profiles.  Maybe you don't agree with how everyone thinks that life should revolve around sites like Facebook and Twitter.  Maybe you are sick of seeing these sites listed everywhere you go.  Maybe you don't have a profile on them and feel like you are left out of something that everyone thinks is overly important.  Maybe you wonder if your LinkedIn profile will get you that job?  No matter what you are thinking, I hope that you are starting to understand that (a)social media -- media that brings people AWAY from real life interactions and AWAY from real life relationships -- is not as good as everyone claims it to be.  Maybe you are actually seeing (a)social media destroy the lives of your friends and family.

Do you notice that your once creative friends now spend time on Facebook instead of creating?  Do you notice that your friends now try to compete with others on the internet and proclaim the mundane?  Do you watch in horror as your family and close friends stop growing as individuals and just seem to rot behind the screen of a computer?  Maybe you wonder if you are behind that glow rotting as well.  Turn it off and do something with your life right now!  Don't waste your time creating and babysitting a LinkedIn profile with the false hope that (a)social networking will find you a job.  (A)social media doesn't give you anything, it only takes things away.  If you want that allusive job, you must take the job search to the streets.  Sometimes the old fashioned ways of doing things are better than the newfangled ways that people flock to like angry birds.  Pounding the pavement will probably always be better than making a LinkedIn profile.  It may not be as much fun, but you're only fooling yourself if you think that LinkedIn is going to somehow "link you in" to a killer career. 

Wake up from the dreamland and get yourself off that chair and onto the streets.  If you are unemployed and you need to find a job, the harsh reality is that you have no time for (a)social media.  That's the cold hard truth.  LinkedIn may be a way for those who own some stock in the company to make some money (in the short term at least).  Further, you can bet that the same media sites that were out there advertising LinkedIn like a flower advertises pollen to a bee, were big investors in the site.  News and media programs don't advertise this stuff out of the goodness of their own heart.  They advertise it because they have a financial interest in the site.  So, the next time you see a program advertising an (a)social media site that is probably going to do you no good (or worse), you might want to ask what they are getting out of it. 

I'm not saying that it's bad that a website brings in revenue.  But you have to take into consideration the cost to you.  Is the site bringing in revenue because it offers a genuine service, or is it bringing in revenue because people are becoming addicted to it?  The reason (a)social media makes billions of dollars is because it is addicting.  Just like cigarettes, gambling and pornography.  Those things take more than they give back.  (A)social media is no different, and LinkedIn is there with the rest of them.

There is no job out there that is "just waiting for you."  You have to actively go out and find it.  Now, print out a few copies of that resume, go outside, and look for work.  Chances are the companies will send you back to the computer to do an online application with a personality test (a nice little invasion of psychological privacy that has no real bearing on how a person actually is as an employee).  But, at least you will get the chance to apply for the job.  You won't get that by virtue of having a profile on LinkedIn.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Let it burn...

Sometimes I think to myself, wondering, what it would be like if there was a switch that could be flipped that would end the internet.  A switch that could be flipped that would shut off sites like Facebook, Twitter, and the rest of it.  A switch that would obliterate cell phone internet connectivity.  Wouldn't it be nice to wake up and go to log onto the internet and see a blank screen saying that it was all over?

Of course, there are some good things about the internet.  E-mail is nice.  Also, selling and buying on the internet is sometimes wonderful.  I used to live in a very rural area and could not easily get some items that I searched for, many of which were Japanese made or obscure.  Now, living in a large city it's a lot easier to find things, however it's still nice to compare prices on the internet and save money. 

However, I wonder if the good outweighs the bad, or if it's the other way around.  We live in a world where people are oblivious to "the real world."  We live in a world where people look down at their cell phones as they walk, as if they are missing an all-important Tweet.  We live in a world where self esteem rises and falls like the stock market.  Where one judges their popularity on the number of likes their posts on Facebook get.  A world where people's mood is decided by their morning Twitter feed.  A world where people think that they are doing something for the world if they share that they are against animal cruelty or breast cancer aware (and otherwise do nothing about it). 

I can't help but feel that it would be great if I woke up and saw the masses perplexed that their internet was gone.  I would feel perplexed for a moment, but then the gladness would set in.  I would jump for joy at the thought of Facebook being gone.  At people having to once again having to form real friendships.  At the thought of people not thinking they can say horrible things to others and hide behind their computer monitors.  Wouldn't it be great?  A world where all the garbage that the internet has created would be gone?  Garbage that started with the first chat rooms and internet forums that caused "trolls" to rise up.  And then continued with the advent Myspace, Friendster, Facebook and Twitter, the (a)social media sites that consumed people's lives.  Let it burn! 

Imagine opening a newspaper and not having to read about Facebook or (a)social media?  Imagine not having to worry about a loved one being killed or killing someone due to checking these sites while driving?  Checking a website in itself is not evil, but being consumed with it to the point of having to compulsively check it, and putting your life and others in danger is.  And what is the point of checking these sites constantly?  Why can't they wait?  Why do people feel the need to compulsively check (a)social networking websites?  Is their self-esteem truly tied that much into it?

Yes.  The idea of the internet going down and the world reverting to a simpler time really appeals to me.  I don't hate technology.  But, I loathe the world of (a)social networking.  I loathe how people think that (a)social networking is all-important.  I don't understand how people can be so consumed by it.  I know that I am not alone in this way of thinking.  Yet, (a)social networking is out there, so loud, consuming the entire world.  Oh, how I would love to watch it all burn.  How I would like to see the websites all fail.  One by one.  A world without (a)social networking.  If there is a day where the Twitter feeds all fail, where Facebook flickers to nothing, and where nothing new rises in their places, oh if there is such a great and wonderful day, I hope that I am alive for it.  I will run into the streets and sing.  I would love to live in a world where people can celebrate personal relationships -- where people can be thoughtful without having to share it with the rest of the world.  Where one can feel good about themselves without having the things they did receive a like. 

Will the world ever be like that?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Talking about life vs. living life.

Is it better to talk about your life and share the little tidbits of that life with others, or is it better to cultivate your life, to develop yourself as a person and actually live your life?  That is the dilemma we face every day when deciding whether we should be glued to (a)social networking, discussing our lives and interests with others, or if we should be moving towards our goals, engaged in actually better ourselves and the world around us.  The latter usually does not involve (a)social networking, because being (a)social networking has little to do with improving one's self and one's abilities.

Recently someone close to me had me look at their Pinterest account.  In case you don't know, Pinterest is a site where one can share their interests and pictures that they like to the rest of the world.  For some reason it is more popular with females than males (I could not really find a justifiable reason for this).   That being said, I enjoyed looking at my friend's Pinterest and for a few seconds I may have even thought about setting my own Pinterest up.

But then I realized I would not.  Why you ask?  Well, first, I realized that I don't need to share my interests to the rest of the world.  I have found that there are either two things I can do.  I can talk about something, such as my interest, or I can spend my time actually improving my abilities and cultivating that interest.  In the time it would have taken me to set up a Pinterest account, I could have spent time engaged in my own endeavors.

Recently I have thought somewhat about going back to Facebook.  I won't lie.  Sometimes the draw of returning to the site seems substantial.  But then I remind myself of just how much my life stagnated while I was a member of Facebook.  I recently got this comment on my blog:
All of the above comments are from people who don't have a life interesting enough to share.... pure lames, haters. My advise is to stop hating on facebook and get a life. obviously your probably Ugly, Anoying, and plain uninteresting so you blame Facebook because people who like there lives are proud enough to share with the people they love and who love them. So PLEASE get a life and stop hating on Facebook!!!
I think that it's interesting how this person has began by coming up with a bunch of conclusions about who I am.  He/she states that "obviously" I'm probably "Ugly", "Anoying" and plain uninteresting.  How does this person know that?  I did not leave Facebook due to my looks or how interesting I think I am.  Further, right before I left I was told by two separate people that the only reason they were on Facebook was because of me and another individual.  In fact, many people enjoyed me being on the site and were probably perplexed when I left.  The real reason I left was because I saw that my life had started to stagnate.  I saw that I wanted to be more than just a person who sat around on an (a)social networking all day long.  I realized that in order for me to get the most out of my life, as well as maximize my close relationships with others, an exodus from Facebook was in order.  I realized that Facebook provided me with no real benefits in life.  In fact, I was really getting nothing at all out of Facebook.  Further, I saw that many friends and family members of mine were literally wasting hours upon hours every single day on that site.  I don't mean just checking it, but obsessing over it.  I noticed that people around me, at school, and on the streets were obsessive about checking their accounts.  I realized that to leave the site and go back to living a life without Facebook would make me better able to achieve my goals.  It was partly an experiment, but one that I immediately saw results from. 

I never felt like I was inferior to anyone else on Facebook.  To be honest, of everyone on my friends list I was more educated, had traveled far more extensively, lived in some of the finest cities in the country, and have accomplished a great variety of my life goals.  This does not mean that I felt superior to others.  In fact, I don't like to think that people are inferior or superior to each other.  We all have faults and talents that make us unique.  Further, everyone rises and falls and pride never can last forever.  I found that I had no want to brag about the things I had done, nor did I like that the site makes people feel compelled to be narcissistic.  I would often not share my travels or attainments out of not wanting to make others who are unemployed or struggling to feel bad.  In short, I had absolutely no place on Facebook.

The author of the above comment obviously can not seem to understand that not all people leave Facebook because they feel "ugly" or "inferior" to others.  Further, I venture to guess that the author of the comment above has a serious inferiority complex.  Many people who "have lives" are not on Facebook and have no use for the site.  Many of the world's senior citizens, many of whom are very talented and educated individuals who have a lifetime of knowledge and wisdom have absolutely no need whatsoever for Facebook.  Do you think that many of today's biggest creators and inventors spend hours a day on Facebook?  If you think that being on Facebook means that you have a life, you are completely wrong.  The reality is: Being on Facebook means the opposite, that you probably don't have as much of a life as you want.  Either you can talk about your life or you can actually go out and live it.  Which do you think that many people on Facebook are busy doing?