Project for the Holidays – Make Facebook Personal Again

When I first joined Facebook in the early summer of 2007, only a handful of people I knew were using it. Unlike Myspace or Friendster (remember Friendster?) I was really impressed with the ways it actually could be used as a social tool. I found people I hadn’t talked to since high school or college, and I had meaningful communications with them on a regular basis. I was able to keep in touch with people I rarely saw as if we still lived on the same block, and to me that is the entire purpose of social networking. The “networking” aspect is misleading.  The “social” part is what I think is most important.

For that reason, at first I vowed to keep my FB “friends” only to people I was actually friends with, or at least had been at one time. But then something happened later that Fall that sort of ruined that. I published a book. Now that I had a product to push, I was willing to friend anybody and everybody on the offhand chance that I’d make another two dollars of royalties as  result. It’s ludicrous. I probably set status updates for 75% of them to “ignore” so I wouldn’t have to look at pictures of their babies or whatever else they had to say that had nothing to do with me.

I could still use Facebook to keep up with the people that mattered most to me. I made “friend groups” so I could filter status updates based on who I was interested in hearing from or interacting with at any given time. This is useful, but it’s gradually gotten so it’s hard to tell if anyone is really paying attention to anything anybody else does on there. I know I’m missing a lot of interesting things that other people post because it’s harder and harder to sift out the content. So mostly I either feel like I’m missing something or I’m speaking into a vacuum.

So this is what I’m proposing–between now and Christmas, I plan to leave a personal message for each of the 626 (and growing) friends I have on Facebook. Just a quick connection, which I hope will spur a lasting conversation. If it’s somebody I don’t really know, I hope to learn something interesting about them. If it’s someone I rarely see or talk to, I hope to reconnect in some meaningful way. If it’s someone I see all the time anyway, no harm in saying hello.

I guess I will approach this systematically, contacting my friends in alphabetical order. I’ll need to contact about 15 people a day to finish by Dec. 25. I don’t know if I’ll use the wall or send private messages. That may depend on the person. Anyway, I hope that this will catch on and others will have a desire to make Facebook about positive social interaction.

22 thoughts on “Project for the Holidays – Make Facebook Personal Again

  1. Charles W. "Charley" CAMP

    Hello David,
    Chris is teaching English as a 2nd language in Istanbul, Turkey. He’s been there 4 years now and seems quite content with life and work opportunities there.
    Chris’ Mother and his Aunt Carolyn recently visited him in Istanbul! They had a great two weeks touring much of the Country and learning about Turkey’s history, culture, educational system, family dynamics, etc. Of curse Chris was a terrific host!
    Now to your question about me: I retired from Dothan’s B/G Club 10 years ago, completed a Master’s Degree in COUNSELING AND PSYCHOLOGY, then worked about 7 years as a Mental Health Therapist. Just over a year ago, I decided to totally retire and stay home. Thus far I’ve been satisfied. Just as soon as a Health issue is resolved, I’ll get busy trying to write a book.
    It’s always good to hear from Friends. Thanks for caring and sharing.
    Blessings, Charley

  2. carolyn

    Hi David,
    Nice to hear from you, and thanks for the birthday invitation. I have to go out of town for work that weekend, unfortunately. Hope to see you for something else soon!
    Carolyn

  3. Caren

    Hey David!! I think this is a really sweet project. I should do something similar, although I know most of the people I’m friends with.

    I imagine you friended me because I am a writer too. I always like to hear from other writers, especially those who love words as much as I do. Or maybe we have a mutual friend. Or friends.

    I just want to say, M. David Hornbuckle is a lovely name!

    Feel free to click on my site above to read more about my silly writing. Hope to talk to you more. Great project you have!

  4. Pingback: Facebook Holiday Project Update 1 « There Will Be Blog

  5. Eddy Gregory

    Thanks David (or M. if you prefer). This is a great idea. My involvment with the Artstars is always too tangential, so this is another good way to keep connected. I also need to restart my blog. So maybe I’ll be following your lead at some point.

  6. Ken Schlager

    Hi David:
    Personally, I have never been motivated to share much on Facebook. It’s a nice way to find people, but once I do I tend to try to connect directly, rather than in public.
    But in answer to your question, I’m closing in on two years as editor of New Jersey Monthly. Happy to have a gig — and happier to have one that is so much fun.
    Best,
    ks

  7. Pingback: Holiday Project Update 2 « There Will Be Blog

  8. Laura

    Hi David,

    I love this idea! I tried reaching out to friends for Thanksgiving and wished many a happy day. Like you, I have a heap of friends on FB, so I couldn’t reach everyone in one day. I think I’ll follow your lead and write a personal note to everyone. Thanks for the inspiration, David.

    Have a blessed holiday season!

    Laura

  9. mary evrard

    Hey David,
    I am sorry we will be two ships passing in the night in NYC this week, but am looking forward to seeing you at common grounds. I wrote my first poem in MONTHS this am, and it was awesome. I am in school as well as working and having a pretty good year in RE…but with holding writing. I am a binge writer. I get in large groups of writers in distant lands while on vacation and one thing leads to another….someone asks me, “uh…hey: I have this great exercise back at the lake….you want to…eh….write a little?” and the next thing you know, POOF! a novella.
    It’s crazy. Something takes over and I am whirling around in an adjective storm. I wake up in the middle of the night wrestling a poem and jump out of bed and go lean over the kitchen table by lamplight with a jack russell on my foot and a steaming cup of coffee in my face and I don’t leave till the last vowel, letter, and punctuation pop out and onto paper.
    Now don’t get me going. I always go to NY to write…
    Mary Evrard

  10. Maggie Tedder

    Yes I did FINALLY figure it out. I am trying to learn how all this stuff works before my oldest child leaves home and is not here to do it for me. He is a senior this year.

    My FB story……I fell to peer pressure locally. Then enjoyed hearing from folks I have not seen in years. You know, what happened to folks after high school. Then I started finding folks from my military days…..this has been the best. I like seeing and sharing pics with friends and like to see their random posts….Roll Tide…..! I hate all of the stupid apps and crap!! I try not to do any of them. Other than the birthday calendar.

    My biggest complaint lately is that local friends only communicate on FB….they stopped texting, emails, phone calls….I do not think this is appropriate for important things….like someone dies, in the hosp, sick, whatever…….I am missing things about people right here in Dothan, right here in my darn neighborhood. All because I do not get on here everyday. I try to, but as a home schooling mom of FOUR, it is too easy to get bogged down in digging through days and days of post. Maybe I will try what you did and set up some groups of friends.

    Anyway, I have enjoyed following you and hope that your books does well. What age is your book geared to. My 18 year old loves reading and was fascinated to hear that you proof read books….wondered if you were reading anything good….that would become the next Harry Potter or Twilight.

    Interesting that you sent this today. I have been thinking about how to address the issue with my local friends.

    Have a great week and talk to you again soon.

  11. Matt Brink

    Not sure if this is what you meant.. should I respond on FB? Well anyway, I think it’s a good idea. I’m not sure how many people in my “friends” are actually people with whom I’ve shared space on the physical plane. It was fun changing my “status” to “married”, though… not something I ever thought I’d be doing.

    It’s good hearing from you, Dave. I hope you’re well. Keep in touch.

    –Matt

  12. mdavidhornbuckle Post author

    Hey everybody. Thanks for commenting. I will get back to you all soon. There are two updates so far about the project if you scroll through the blog entries.

    @Matt — My intention was for people to write me back on Facebook, as that way, we can continue our conversation one-on-one, as opposed to out here in front of everybody. Also, you probably won’t get notified if I respond to your comments here, so how would you know? You probably don’t even know that I’m saying this now.

    Leaving for my December road trip in a couple of hours. I’ll post about that tonight.

  13. Mike

    I thought I would be first!! A-#1-mato! Pesky first names.

    Yeah, I have the same lament. I wish it were a tighter group but my fame ambitions make me accept people from the Philippines who don’t even type in my language. On the other hand it has been a useful tool in reaching lots of people at once.

    Remember when we used to gather at places and bond in person?

  14. patrick bucklew

    hi david! i think this is a great idea! i have felt the combination of good personal feelings and tech disinterested coldness from facebook. i really like the idea of crashing through the wall of chill… keep up the good work! sincerely, patrick

  15. Regina McCarthy

    David-
    Good idea about keeping in contact.
    Interesting about your book and looking at baby pictures. When I retired 7 yrs ago I quickly learned those ‘friends’ that I thought I had weren’t. My big title and all of my hard earned notarity in my field disappeared really quick. We are NOT are jobs or careers.
    I will try to keep up but must add my 92 yr old dad just became ill and I’m not always near a computer.
    Road trip? Where you going? Yellowstone at Chr

  16. Regina McCarthy

    Yellowstone at Christmas sounds good to me. What happened? got cut off….oh, well it’s been that kind of day.

  17. Rosalind Gnat

    Never blogged before, so David, I’m copying the message I wrote to you this morning – my first blog!
    David,
    What a terrific message to wake up to. I applaud your effort to bring us back to the origins of Facebook. Everything seems to devolve into marketing in our culture. I can’t even abide the Linkdin site and phraseology.
    And you are someone I always tell myself I will catch up with: so this is a little beginning.
    You know, I was only born in Dothan. My maternal family has been in Florida, along the St. Johns River, since before the Civil War: real Crackers. Actually I have some written on what will ultimately be a book (maybe also a play) based on the Old Florida stories of my family – rivaling anything Tennesse Williams had to tell. I’ve also been working on a solo theater piece with Gretchen Cryer based on one of the stories.
    My parents, musicians at Fla State, lived in Dothan because it was cheaper than Tallahassee!

    My other performance involvement is that I will be doing a showcase performance – part of an evening of showcases the first evening of this year’s APAP conference, Friday January 8th, 9:15 at Don’t Tell Mama. Laurel Masseé (Manhattan Transfer), Paul Trueblood, Matt Brown, and my own beautiful 19-year-old daughter Emily, will be performing a 15-minute snapshot of the War Songs theater/music piece I wrote 2 years ago and performed at Ethical Culture and at All Souls Unitarian Church.

    I’d like to buy your book – a gift to myself. What’s the simplest way to do that?

    Best of luck in Dothan, and with your new book, which I look forward to reading. I hope we can keep this up!

    Rosalind

  18. Steve Ware

    Hey David!

    It’s been far too long between visits (NYC and/or GNV). Still busy with work and music, and look forward to seeing/hearing you this Wed. @ Common Grounds! Safe travels, and take care,
    Steve.

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