Untimely celebrity deaths aside, what is also noteworthy about this weekend is I heard the news just minutes after it was announced — all because of Facebook.
Not from television. Or the radio. Or a newspaper. Or indeed, even an Internet news story.
I heard it first from Facebook.
I suppose I should not be surprised, but I suspect it marks a new turn in my relationship with Facebook. Now I’m getting my news directly from my social network.
In reality, my online social network is just the digital version of my real-life social network. You know, the one where I talk to real people on the phone, in the grocery store or at a dinner party. Assuming, of course, I still do any or all of those things.
Only now it’s all digital — my friends are sharing the daily news via Facebook. And, what’s more important, I’m listening.
(I think I just made an entire class of Marketing 101 students shiver in excitement with that statement.)
I’ve long believed that the underlying genius of Facebook — the very essense of it that makes it so popular — is that we become the center of the world while we are logged on. Facebook gives us all these little tidbits about and from the people we know and (mostly) like in one place. We are interested in them, and the things they share are interesting to us, partly because of our relationship.
That’s why so many of us spend so much time on it. News that I really care about (new babies! new jobs! old songs! fun pictures! the occasional celebrity overdose!), right at my fingertips.
Sidenote that illustrates my point: Have you ever logged on Facebook as someone else? The experience is totally jarring. I looked over my husband’s shoulder the other day while he was on Facebook. It was all wrong. I wanted to elbow him out of the way, grab the laptop and log on as me. Ugh.
So Whitney Houston died, and I found out from Facebook. Somewhere, Walter Cronkite is turning over in his grave.