I've been thinking a lot about Facebook lately, perhaps because I've been more active this summer than normal; perhaps because I've been talking to people (in real life) about Facebook. I've come to discover that Facebook's utility is very subjective. Some have indicated to me that they use it to keep in touch with people they no longer have contact with. Some people really enjoy being able to see what's going on around them. Some feel like they are always connected. Some like to share and enjoy having a platform.
I think that, fundamentally, Facebook is for all those things. However, as much as I appreciate those sentiments, I've very much come to view Facebook at my own personal newspaper. Friends and pages that I follow provide me with a nearly endless stream of articles, blogs, videos, pictures, and statuses that I use to know what's going on.
The wider context is that print media is dying. In particular, young people aren't subsribing to their local newpaper or national journals of record. Despite this, I still have a desire, like most people, to know what's going on in whatever communities I identify with. Some of these communities are geographic, such as finding out what's going on in Québec or Ottawa or Kitchener. Some of these are imagined, like what's going on in feminist, socialist, or queer circles. Some of it comes in the form of more 'traditional' articles, usually actually linked to a real newspaper article. Some are opinion pieces from friends, such as blogs or memes, which are similar to editorials. I very much enjoy reading that original content.
I feel like I have acess to a news feed, which is like a newspaper. Ostensibly the more important stories come first, followed by whatever is next in significance. While this doesn't necessarily always follow, it's similar to a newspaper. I get to choose what I like to read and I get suggestions based on my preferences. In some way it's like picking a newspaper based on its particular slant.
I feel like I use Facebook a fair amount - at least an hour every day. It's rather active use, scrolling through and clicking on external links. I get the impression that I'm a moderate user of Facebook, and I don't feel like I use it too much, mostly because I feel like it's time that I would otherwise not use in such an enriching way. I hope that in the future Facebook remains accessible and that my friends still continue to make me think!