Can you all believe Facebook has been around since 2004!? I looked back on my own profile to see when exactly I started using Facebook, and it was August of 2008. And I’ll never forget how I started, it was after I saw one of my best friends, a university professor in California, using it. Of which is the main reason Facebook started. It was started by a group of college friends at Harvard as a way to interact socially and network amongst college students at Harvard. They then expanded it to other area colleges in the Boston area (of which did you know there are 37 colleges in the Boston area!?), then other Ivy league schools and Stanford. It then expanded to other colleges and down into high school, and in 2006 opened it up to the wild, unknowing world for consumption in 2006. As of 2018, there are 2.2 billion active users. 2.2 billion!
The difficulty and conundrum was, as my wife taught me, Facebook was laid out there to the uncontrollable world for all of us unknowing vultures to put to use, consume, and ravage without any set of ground rules. It was a literal free for all, much like cage fighting, no rules, virtually anything goes, and win at all costs regardless of emotion, consequences, feelings, and negative effects.
As with anything in life, there are cycles of emotions that must be gone through which builds great wisdom, higher character, improved insight, and a hopeful opportunity, but in order to get there, we must individually experience some tremendous, drop to your knees reaching out for help from above life-altering moments often times involving severe tragedy. These sort of experiences tend to be the death of a parent or child, divorce, loss of a job, bankruptcy, any sort of drug addiction, partnership conflict and dissolution, workplace abuse, or loss of a long time friend. These events or happenings most often leave deep emotional scars never forgotten. And for the life of Facebook, it is going through a life cycle, only being guided by it’s 2.2 billion active users.
In its life, the negatives far outweighed the positives due to us competitive vultures. From my experience, they began with us keyboard ninjas arguing or debating University superiority given whole hearted almost fight to the death behind a keyboard allegiance to one’s alma mater. I can remember one of the first times I typed something negative and “hit send”, about KSU vs KU, and my words were something such as “You are casting stones from a glass house!” And I’m pretty certain he unfriended me right away, and I was like “Oh well!” The college teams debate continued to evolve, but then it expanded into politics during the BO era. And boy did that get ugly! We would “share” or post however our political persuasion guided us and under the “no holds” barred rules of Facebook. We could gut a person with surgical precision, based on a political post with one post generating virtually hundreds of intense comments, and each person looking to get the last word, and the unspoken victory! That era was then followed up with and the Hiroshima bomb of Facebook was dropped in the last Presidential election. There were lifelong friendships broken, family members not talking to each other, and worldwide divisiveness created with a pile of ashes taller than the Willis tower following that election. It was at that point that the hate, the negativity, and the digital cage fighting reached it’s peak and tipping point for me. It was at that point in which my own emotional experience cycle reached the point of, “this is nuts, I’ve had enough, this has to change.” And my facebook time, and I believe many others facebook time, greatly decreased.
Facebook was started to interact socially and network with others, but a literal social experiment with absolutely no ground rules, the power of greed and money has us where we are today. Several years ago, I began to wonder, what if Facebook would have some rules. Rules such as posts to share or not share, what we can post and what we can’t, how to comment or engage in debate, and something as simple as no posting if under any influence of anything. The top rules being and are non-negotiable or you are kicked off are as follows - #1 All Posts and Comments need to be constructive, not destructive. #2 – No depictions of violence. #3 – We have zero tolerance for hate speech of any kind. #4 – Sharing of ideas, acts of kindness, and words of gratitude will be “pushed” to the forefront of all timelines. #5 – the Fifth and Final Rule – Simply follow the Golden Rule.
These rules could have had the power to change the entire world if the Facebook Leadership would have known the tragic effects of their product, but they had no crystal ball, and I don’t think those were their initial intentions. So now, it’s up to us, one person at a time, to live by these non-negotiable rules of social media. And it is up to us to broadcast those rules for others to choose to live by. We are all just one butterfly, but if we can create the Facebook Butterfly effect, we can change the world of social media, one butterfly at a time. That’s one reason of several as to why this Leadership Thursday blog was started. It all starts with each of us. One person, one choice!