This week, CEO and co-founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg was inducted into the California Hall of Fame. Then, he was named TIME Magazine’s “Person of the Year”. Well-deserved universal acclaim, right? Well, not to everyone. I was perplexed when I heard mixed reaction to the 26 year old claiming these top honors. People asked “Why? What did he do?”. To that I have to retort, “Are you serious?”. He’s changed lives. As TIME Magazine puts it, “what Zuckerberg is doing is fundamentally changing the way the Internet works and, more importantly, the way it feels – which means, as the Internet permeates more and more aspects of our lives and hours of our day, how the world feels.”
I remember the moment I first heard of Facebook: A worried Mom called me at the station where I worked in Detroit, warning me how this new social network might somehow trap kids – like those unsavory chatrooms that were the focus of a report I’d just aired. Then, the college interns at the station started sharing how they used Facebook to check out guys they’d met out on the town, before they’d decide if they wanted to date them. It’s come a long way since then.
After I moved to Northern California, and had to say goodbye to so many friends once again, I started to get tempted by the idea of reconnecting online. But I wondered, how would I ever find the time? Apparently, it wasn’t hard. I now log on several times a day and have connected with everyone from my first boyfriend in 6th grade to friends from overseas I haven’t seen in decades – even people I work with now but don’t really get to talk to much. And I am so happy!
People and my relationships with them have always been the most important focus of my life. But I now have a very busy life. Mornings are spent with my kids, carpooling and then doing Mom-errands. The rest of my day is spent at work. Weekends I try to catch a glimpse of my husband but we also have sports, birthday parties and sleepovers to coordinate, plus taking care of the house and all those grown-up responsibilities that come with it. So, I don’t have much time to call or e-mail individual friends, even when I really miss them. Now, I get a quick catch-up and pick-me-up after just one peek at my Facebook page.
I also find that I learn so much more about people. When I’m at work, I’m connecting with co-workers on an entirely different level because I now know what their hobbies and interests are. We don’t get much chance to chat about things like that as they hand me my scripts just before yet another deadline. I’ve also discovered I have more in common with people I knew in high school than I ever knew back then. And I’ve connected with my viewers without ever having to set foot outside the studio (which I don’t get to do that often!). I find out who’s watching, what they like and don’t like to see on tv and even get some story ideas.
One critic of Facebook told me he thought it would be a distant memory in ten years. I don’t buy that. As the article in TIME pointed out: “One out of every dozen people on the planet has a Facebook account. They speak 75 languages and collectively lavish more than 700 billion minutes on Facebook every month. Last month the site accounted for 1 out of 4 American page views. Its membership is currently growing at a rate of about 700,000 people a day. What just happened? In less than seven years, Zuckerberg wired together a twelfth of humanity into a single network, thereby creating a social entity almost twice as large as the U.S. If Facebook were a country it would be the third largest, behind only China and India. It started out as a lark, a diversion, but it has turned into something real, something that has changed the way human beings relate to one another on a species-wide scale”.
Couldn’t have said it better myself.