Getting More Than You Give

I’m not exactly what you’d call an early adopter. When my husband and I were on vacation in Turks and Caicos, he was the first one to jump overboard into the vast ocean equipped with snorkel gear. I had a full report on what he saw down there (no sharks right?) and knew the temperature of the water before even so much as one flipper got wet. When my peers dropped their old-feature phones for newer, sleeker, and more versatile smartphones, I watched, waited, and eventually upgraded.

I suppose this cautiousness is a fundamental part of my personality. It explains why I studied at PennState(only after my brother went the year before and LOVED it) and why I haven’t splurged on Lasik eye surgery (is it really safe?). It’s easy to see how this cautiousness has infiltrated my decision-making process.

I approached Facebook with the same level of caution. Friends and colleagues were fast to sign up and fast to put it all out there for the world to see. They posted pictures from Nona’s 90th, updated their statuses by the minute (“at the gym … doing laundry … napping”), and found every person they crossed paths with from grammar school to their current position and sent them a friend request. They were on fire!

I was intrigued … from the sidelines. I was suspicious of the shy introvert with 1 million friends and a little taken aback by the colleague who posted her vacation pictures (poolside with piña colada).  I created an account and logged on once a week. For the most part, I was enjoying what everyone else was saying. I was happy when old friends sent friend requests. I giggled at their ridiculous comments and enjoyed the pics they posted. Seemed that I was, dare I say it … having fun? And as someone who put so little out there, how was this possible?

A recent article posted on the Pew Research Center website explains this phenomenon. In summary, the article’s findings are that a segment of Facebook power-users (roughly 20–30% of total users) allows the majority of us to receive more than we give. Power-users send more friend requests, send more messages, and post and tag more photos that the rest of us.

They make it possible for people like me to sit back and enjoy the show! So while in most cases it’s better to give than to receive, that might not be the case for the average Facebook user. This week, take a look at your own use of Facebook and ask yourself what kind of user you are. You may actually learn a little bit about yourself in the process.

Author: Cori Eriksson

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