There is no question that in its first ten years, Facebook has transformed the way we live. There is no argument.
We may now know more details of people we met only once in our lives, than we do of our neighbors’ lives next door or across the street. Our kids can interact with “friends” across the world and may know more about them than they do about the ones they see everyday at school. Our employers know more details about people they are recruiting than they ought to know. The community is the world, but it is not the neighborhood.
It took almost these ten long years to adjust to our new “toy.” Judgment mistakes were made and, because of it, lives were bruised. Still, to be fair, we had no precedence for this. Traditionally, we learned from our elders’ experience – grandparents, parents, teachers and mentors. With Facebook, there was no trusted counsel to advise as to what baby steps to take. Instead we followed the vision of a kid, who had an idea, guts, perseverance and lots of real life friends around him that understood that he, Zuckerberg, was on to something that even major corporations had not thought of…
And now we cannot do without it. But let’s put all this celebration into perspective…
If in fact, as is often said, that there are no new ideas, just old ones that evolve and eventually transform into new concepts and ideas, then there is never a reason to celebrate a company’s birthday, except to mark the day as a personal accomplishment for the founder. For in truth, there is no company birthday. As Dino Grandon wrote so brilliantly in The Huffington Post, when does one mark the day?
In the case of Thomas Edison, it was easy. The light bulb went on. But seriously, how do you define a company’s birthday? By the day it incorporated? By the day a germ of an idea happened in a shower? By the day when the company first opened its doors, and in the case of a website company, a site? How did Apple celebrate its birthday? The day that Wozniak and Jobs connected all the “dots” in the computer they were building in the garage, or the day they invented its new operating system?
So after the brilliantly executed PR blitz of the birthday celebration dies down, we are left with a communication platform whose diminished novelty, has become an activity as intrinsic to our lives as any other, let’s say even brushing teeth. So after the brilliantly executed PR blitz of the birthday celebration dies down, we are still left with a communication platform that may have lost its newness, but that has become an activity as intrinsic to our lives as any other, let’s say even brushing teeth. Facebook follows in the footsteps of Xerox, as well as many other companies, in becoming a verb.
And so, let’s continue to Facebook each other but maybe now do it, collectively, a bit smarter, recognizing what we did not realize when we first marveled at our new toy that opened up the floodgates of communication — that our posts have a world stage (or world billboard) and not all needs posting – just some of it.
Still, it is all very deserving of a Happy Birthday on any day, even if it is not on the arbitrary day of February 4. But let’s not make it a lonely substitute for that real life talk we were planning to have with a friend and never did.