Matt\’s Cuppa

My take on tea, technology, and our environment

Is Facebook Leading the Informality Charge?

Posted by telecommatt on July 22, 2007

We went to dinner with some friends last night. It was one of those things where we knew the girl organizing the evening, and a few others, and were introduced to others we’d never met before. My wife and had been there a few minutes when another girl walked in the door. As soon as my wife looked up, everything in the room stopped momentarily in the wake of one of those it’s-a-small-world-after-all moments. Turns out that the two had played high school volleyball together, but hadn’t seen each other in years. These sorts of moments can turn ugly rather quickly, but this one did not. We all had an awesome evening together and these two had a great time catching up on life, the universe, and everything.

Being a geek, what I found most interesting about the exchange was totally different. My (wonderful) wife understands the whole web 2.0 thing. She’s not tech-shy by any means. However, it doesn’t make her shiver with excitement like it does me. The other girl, it turns out, is much the same. Yet, during the first conversation these two had in almost a decade, the discussion turned to Facebook! Has Facebook really become so pervasive in our daily lives?

Aside from the fact that I’m getting rather tired of the whole Facebook thing, I’m completely amazed at the speed at which Facebook. along with other microblogging services like Twitter, have become mainstream. How long was it before Google became a verb? Suddenly, we don’t think twice when someone says they’ll tweet and Facebook someone. The adoption rate here is pretty much unprecedented. Facebook has entered the common vocabulary in what has to be near record time, if not faster. So, what does that mean for us?

The trends are pretty clear. Shorter communicae and shorter attentions spans. I can guarantee that there are people who won’t read past the first three lines of this post before their minds begin to wander. Some of this is good. Word efficiency is a valuable skill. I love the idea of the five line email. On the other hand, and my wife and I have discussed this a good deal, there is a culture of informality forming around applications like Facebook, IM, and SMS messenging. What will happen when this culture of informality bleeds into the formal world, aka the “real” world? College recruiters are already seeing evidence of this in entrance essays. The business world is seeing changes in what people are wearing to their interviews. Even my wife has noticed changes in the way clients interact with her on the phone. You have to wonder, where will it all end? And, perhaps more importantly, where do we want it to end?

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