Facebook sold stock in its company for the first time today. Excitement was in the air and the media coverage extended well beyond the NASDAQ exchange and the competitive beat for communicating success of companies here in Silicon Valley. This story was mainstream because Facebook, despite its eight young years, has already permeated most every family and most every neighborhood.
Some wonder if that is good or bad. Here’s my take.
I’ve been a fan of the facebook growth story for several years so most of the vignettes featured in this week’s news weren’t news to me. One that did catch my attention was the strong interest the ‘retail’ investment sector has taken, particularly interest for the stock was being seen at main street brokers everywhere.
This story was notable because it would take something as familiar as facebook to entice the many casual stock purchasers back to the throes stock investment. It also is a clear sign that mainstream people really want to invest in the communities they use. I doubt any of the women, men, or children who bought a share of stock today think of facebook as a mere product or a service. They are investing in the potential of the community.
I look forward to the better opportunities we will have to implement public investment in our physical neighborhoods too.
It might not happen in every town, but I imagine more than a few will develop stock vehicles that are more long term ownership stakes that go beyond the ho hum traditions of municipal bonds investing. These can capture citizens interest in future prosperity as the facebook offering allows. “Invest in what you know” couldn’t be a better mantra for the citizens of a town. I know people that can describe every sign and curvy road in the county. These people might take that knowledge to move the use of their physical community forward if given a more tangible ownership stake to do so. This will make for a more prosperous future in communities that do so. You’re right, some cities will stick to asking for taxes all the time.
Lots of naysayers talk about hype, privacy issues, or diets from social networking excitement. There are concerns in each of these areas, but it’s very obvious from the many blue bordered screens I see passing through the libraries and cafes that facebook is facilitating connection.
You don’t have to physically shake a hand or make eye contact to empathize with a voice.
Facebook and other online social networks allow us to empathize with more voices because we can hi-five our pals and kiss the babies virtually in a quick minute. Spending ten talking about the weather are minutes we can now donate to other priorities. Essentially, yes we can waste time online, but clever use of online social webs enable us to build camaraderie in the background with many at a time.
Nurturing those connections people have simply adapted new habits. I don’t have to send pen pals letters or open my mouth to the phone anymore. I can go to the theater by myself for the matinee because I won’t be going to see a show just to be around other people. (Exercising or going to church and poetry reading still seems to pass more quickly if I bring someone along.)
Has anyone told you the best secret? Online social networks allows us all the opportunity to simply spend more wonderful quiet evenings at home. What does this invite? More opportunity to dive deep into specific relationships you have with certain loved ones or or slowly love your meals or your loved hobbies or any other obsessed, loved business you’re building.
Not many signs of social breakdown in my opinion are caused by increased online social gatherings. I feel closer to the people I’ve known from all stages of my life because of the popularity of social networks. If they didn’t catch on I might still be searching for someone to care about the thoughts of a lonely thirty something.
Sharing photographs from vacations or a family gathering used to be rare – now it is an everyday, normal sort of opportunity. In the 1990′s when I traveled I only had the opportunity to shuffle the thick 4X6 photo stacks fresh from the 1 hour place with a few family and friends.
Now, even strangers can brave your home movies and scrapbooks. Now, both the casual and more intimate glimpses, the snapshots of life that are worth our boxes of keepsakes, are shared throughout the days with lots of people. How can this not be repairing some of our previous social breakdowns caused by longer work, study, and commuting hours? How can these opportunities for mutual understanding not solve any potential disillusionment?
Even if you have old time interests like knitting, banjo music, or making homemade cakes or paper; online social networking can bring your kindred interests together.