At a time in our society when technology is playing a bigger role than ever in our emotional health, one social media network bears looking at, in the context of women’s issues. Did you know that Facebook has arguably become the largest online social network in the world?
“Founded in February 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and fellow Harvard students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. In 2008 Facebook had 100 million users and as of March 2013 has 1.11 Billion. Facebook filed for a $5 billion IPO on Feb. 1, 2012 and valued the company at $104 billion,” according to statisticbrain.com. The number of monthly active Facebook users in 2014 now totals 1,310,000,000 people globally. Forty-eight percent of users login on any given day. On average, Facebook users like me spend 18 minutes every day there. Year-on-year from 2012 to 2013, there was a 22 percent increase in the number of Facebook users. 48% of 18 to 34 year olds who use Facebook check it when they wake up. This is interesting too; 75% of Facebook users are outside the United States. Every 20 minutes on Facebook, 2 million friend requests are sent.
How do women use Facebook: a list
According to Forbes.com in her April 2010 article titled, “What are Men and Women Doing on Facebook,” Jenna Goudreau writes, “ Facebook, the largest social networking tool in the world, is dominated by women.”
“According to BrianSolis.com and Google Ad Planner, the 400-million member site is 57% female and attracts 46 million more female visitors than male visitors per month. Plus, women are more active on Facebook. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says women on Facebook have 8% more friends and participate in 62% of the sharing. ‘The social world is led by women,’ she concludes.”
Is it true? Do women use Facebook differently than men?
Yes. Again, according to Forbes.com’s Goudreau,
“Women are the majority of users on many of the biggest social networking sites, including Twitter, MySpace, Bebo and Flickr. Men, meanwhile, are most active on sites like Digg, YouTube and LinkedIn, which are more content-oriented and promotional than discussion-based.
However, women don’t just visit different sites from men, they use social media differently than men. Experts believe the difference between how men and women operate online mirror their motivations offline. While women often use online social networking tools to make connections and share items from their personal lives, men use them as means to gather information and increase their status.”
In a nod to a great many Facebook users who are also talented writers (what writer would not be drawn to a clever new way to communicate with everyone from your aunt to your elementary school best friend who lives clear across the country?), this quote sums up the use, by both women and men, of Facebook sometimes.
People do not deserve to have good writing, they are so pleased with bad.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
There are women (and men) who, because research does show that women do tend to gravitate towards and grow by connecting with other women, may at times over-share their feelings, their daily activities, their frustrations and even philosophical quotes on their Facebook newsfeeds. It is important to understand that while social media is new, over-sharing is not. The introduction of Facebook into our lives simply gave individuals who are extroverted and energetic another outlet to express themselves. This might be an excellent place to practice tolerance and accepting each other’s differences. It might also be a good opportunity, if you over-share, to slow down the pace of your posts. It is a little like the wise advice that in accessorizing, it is often a smart idea to take one piece of jewelry off before you head out for that big job interview.
Bear in mind, on the other hand, this thoughtful quote by famous author, Barbara Kingsolver: “Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”
Fans of selfies
In a category of Facebook users related to over-sharers, there are women who post pictures taken of themselves, smiling, pouting, looking studious, even climbing mountains. To critics of selfies, it could be suggested that is this not what the social network of Facebook was created for exactly? The same advice might apply to selfies, as for over-sharing. That is to say, while it is not a mental health disorder to post pictures of oneself on Facebook or Twitter, less is always more.
In proving that “selfitis” is not a real thing, according to Snopes.com in its Satire news section, “the Adobo Chronicles published an article positing that the American Psychiatric Association had classified the taking of 'selfies' (i.e., self-portrait photographs shared via social media) as a mental disorder:
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has officially confirmed what many people thought all along: taking 'selfies' is a mental disorder.
The APA made this classification during its annual board of directors meeting in Chicago. The disorder is called selfitis, and is defined as the obsessive compulsive desire to take photos of one's self and post them on social media as a way to make up for the lack of self-esteem and to fill a gap in intimacy.
Soon afterwards links and excerpts referencing that article were being circulated via social media, with many of those who encountered the item mistaking it for a genuine news report.”
On a funny note, it turns out, according to Cosmopolitan.com, “making that duck face” in one’s selfie might not be as attractive as it seems when women are holding that smart phone at just the right angle in the bathroom. Apparently “getting all CIA” using Facebook is not appealing either, however here it might be pointed out that all is fair in love and war. Women, it turns out, might make very good private investigators and if they are looking out for their welfare, it makes good sense to be certain her trust is well-placed.
Everyone knows the “lurkers” on Facebook. They are lovable and might be introverted women or just smart enough to figure why risk posting anything on Facebook that might come back to haunt them. A favorite way of figuring out if a woman you know is a lurker is when you see her in person, she comments on your posts and Facebook news but you hardly ever see any status updates on her page. Lurkers also generally do not comment or like others’ posts. Yet it is by commenting or liking your friends’ posts that one encourages your Facebook friends to keep up the good work.
A related group could be those women who, cognizant of the importance of a prudent level of personal privacy, strictly post business-related status updates. The credible advice here is to only post one career-boosting update for every five personal updates. Although this could be debated, as a guideline, it does seem to fit with the current way people use Facebook.
It was in meeting a non-adopter recently who is a young female graduate student and writer that sparked the idea for this article. She steadfastly refuses to join the growing 1.3 billion crowd on Facebook today. Sometimes called “tech abandoners,” women like my friend are simply following their own instincts. Again, this is an opportunity to applaud our differences as individuals and not pressure anyone into adopting Facebook or any other social media network that does not feel comfortable to them. Even the developers themselves of these different technologies advise constraint.
As reported in the Aug. 6. 2012 Forbes.com article titled, “Beware, Tech Abandoners. People Without Facebook Accounts Are 'Suspicious,'” author Kashmir Hill writes,
“The sudden and dramatic advent of social-media-enabling technologies into our lives seems to be causing some mid-digital-life crises. Not only has Silicon Valley developed a guilty conscience about addicting us to screens, we the users are starting to question how technology is changing us: making us fat, making us unhealthy, making us depressed, making us lonely, making us narcissistic, and making us waste time worrying about whether it’s making us fat, unhealthy, depressed, narcissistic and/or lonely. That’s leading some users to consider abandoning the whole enterprise.”