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Friday, January 14, 2011
Facing up to Facebook: Won't you be my friend?

I AM GETTING SOCIALIZED.  Over the last months I have become expert in the new social media such as Tweeter, MyFace and Spacebook. [Excuse me for a second.]  I'm sorry. My wife says it's Twitter, MySpace and Facebook.  Anyway, you knew what I meant.

But here is how it is settling out.  I inadvertently got LinkedIn but I am now trying to get LinkedOut.  My MySpace page is a vacant lot.  I think I need a lot more readers before I really try Tweeter. (Admit it, Tweeter does sound better than Twitter.  And further why do they call it Twitter if what you send are Tweets anyway?)

In any case, Facebook is the place for me.  I am friending, befriending, defriending and being unfriended all day long these days.

I realize now how disconnected I was from the world around me.  But, with the help of Facebook, I am now friends with dozens of people I never met.  With the assistance of marvelous social networking tools, I get to re-live my years at Robert E. Lee Junior High School without undue risk of getting beaten up again by the 15-and-a-half-year-old hoods with the slicked-back hair in gym class.

It is a good thing that my wife is not the jealous sort, what with now-ex junior-high-school cheerleaders chasing after me again. (Just like back in junior hi.)

And, through Facebook, not only can you get together with old flames from high school, but you don't need to go out on a single actual date to be reminded why you broke up with them in the first place.

Furthermore, Facebook is an intergenerational treasure trove of information that just a few years ago would have taken a small army of private investigators to uncover, but now is delivered to my digital doorstep free of charge. Last semester I could know which bars in Buenos Aires my niece was happily hopping amongst. (Boy is Franklin Street going to be bore, bore, boring this semester for her.)

Now I am told, by a reputable source, that my mother-in-law is on Facebook, which is causing me to re-think this whole intergenerational transfer of information thing.  Gotta go.  Need to check if I have any new friend requests.


The $50 billion question

Facebook is a privately held company, so it would normally be hard to know what it is worth.  Its most substantial asset is me, and, also, people like me, i.e., Facebook users.  Recently that changed, and the Wall Street Journal Online posed this question: "Goldman Sachs and Russia's Digital Sky Technologies have invested $500 million in Facebook Inc., a deal that gives the social-networking site a valuation of $50 billion.  What do you think?  Is the company worth more than eBay, Yahoo and Time Warner?"

Here are some selected online responses to that question.

Maciej Janiec wrote: "$50 billion means that every Facebook user is valued at about $100.  I wonder how to extract this money out of the users?"

Stephen Borsher wrote: ". . . That valuation is absurd. Looks to me like we are headed for another dot-com bomb; or, more likely, a meltdown of unclear [Editor’s note: perhaps this is a typo, and should have said ‘nuclear’] proportions."

Tommy Butler wrote: "If your marketing strategy is ‘pump and dump,’ then the current value is irrelevant. You simply have to locate a gullible buyer. . . .You can't be serious. Surely these shares were purchased with the thought that they will be re-sold at a higher price, soon."

Justin Murray wrote: "Reminds me of 1999.  Soon it will remind me of March 2000."   [Editor’s note: March 2000 is when the dot-com bubble first began to burst.]

Gary Gaddy says: "Please friend me on Facebook, so I can help these poor investors out and have a Joy-filled New Year!"


Gary D. Gaddy really does want you to friend him on Facebook. Please do mention that you saw him first in the Chapel Hill Herald.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday January 14, 2011.

Copyright  2011  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:00 AM EST
Updated: Friday, January 14, 2011 10:06 PM EST
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