1. Social Media

Building a Better Water Cooler

I’ve been hanging out on Facebook a lot lately, which is somewhat unusual for someone who graduated before Facebook was born, but I can’t help it. Ever since, on a whim, I set my status to "I am engaged" (you can put anything you want after that "I am" to let people know how you feel, what you’re doing, or where you are), I’ve been caught up adding friends, writing on people’s walls, and just doing the Facebook thing.

Compared to MySpace, Facebook is much better at facilitating communication. It’s easier to talk about what you’re doing, show who you’ve recently befriended, read others’ conversations, label people in photos, and, in most ways, simply communicate. It’s especially useful for public communication, and for its base of college and high school users, everything’s public.

MySpace is good for communication to some degree, but it doesn’t feel far removed from writing on people’s Geocities guestbooks in the 90s. It takes more effort, even if that’s just a click or two. You can’t share as much about how you know people or how you feel. Its success as a social network stems more from how users can add more personality in terms of featuring videos, music, wallpaper, icons, and other types of content.

Ultimately, Facebook is a better water cooler, while MySpace is a better dorm room. Both of course have their place, but after opening myself to the experience, Facebook grabs me as the much more interesting, compelling social destination.

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