Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Facebook: The new smoke break?

We are born into this world with a finite amount of time to do both what we need to do and what we want to do.  And a lot of us are either needing or wanting to spend a tremendous amount of that allotted time on Facebook. Including me -- of course -- as WMRA's official Facebook Maven and Fan Wrangler.

Hmmmm. . .

This was posted recently on CNN Tech.
We already know that Facebook is the web's biggest time sink. If you look at the average amount of time (according to Nielsen) users spend on the social network, Facebook is a clear winner over sites such as Google or Yahoo.

Now, according to comScore, Facebook is also first when it comes to the total amount of time users are spending on the site.
In August, U.S. web users spent 41.1 million minutes on Facebook, which was about 9.9 percent of their entire web-surfing time in that month.
In this same period, people spent 39.8 million minutes on all of Google's sites, and those include another huge online timesink -- YouTube.
comScore puts Yahoo in third place, with U.S. web users spending 37.7 million minutes on its sites, which was about 9.1 percent of their web surfing time in August.
The numbers are even more impressive when you consider that Facebook had just overtaken Yahoo in July, and in August last year U.S. web surfers had spent less than 5 percent of their online time on the social networking service.
Still, it hardly comes as a surprise: Facebook has been growing steadily in the last couple of years, and in July it announced it had over 500 million active users.
If Facebook keeps growing, a year from now Google may find itself far behind Facebook when it comes to web users' minutes.
Reading this, and thinking about my own Facebooking, I had a little mini-epiphany; mini in that it was not about anything approaching cosmic, but an epiphany, nonetheless, in that it was "a sudden, intuitive perception of, or insight into, the reality or essential meaning of something."

Facebook, I realized, is the new smoke break.

Allow me to illustrate my mini-epiphany with a personal story.

My first job in journalism was at the now-defunct Houston Post. I was hired as a researcher for "Action Line," a consumer column. My office was a cubbyhole off  the main newsroom --  an enormous, window-less space with rows of wooden desks, on which sat black, upright Underwood typewriters, and over which  hung a pall of cigarette smoke.  My own office, sad to say, puffed when I opened the door.

I was 19 and smoked at least a pack-and-a-half  a day.


Well first of all, I was born attached to cigarettes, straight bourbon, and black coffee. All but the black coffee are gone, but I did enjoy the other two mightily for a time. Until, that is, I came to grips with the sad truth that bourbon and cigarettes were, for me, equally poisonous.

Cigarettes in those days, I think, functioned as my think breaks.

Let me explain.

I have always worked in herks and jerks, periods of intense concentration followed by periods of noodling around.  Back during my  Houston Post days, everybody I knew smoked. And viewed it as a legitimate and pleasant way to goof-off for a minute or two.
Isn't that the need Facebook fills today? It certainly does for me.  I mean, when I want a reason to put off doing what I need to be doing for a minute or two, I jump on Facebook?
Of course, as WMRA's official Facebook Maven, it's my job, but still . . .
Facebook as the new smoke break. I like it . . .

You with me, or what?

Of course, cigarettes are highly addictive. Anyone, besides me, ever wonder whether Facebook might be, as well?


  1. My problem is that FB becomes as needy as a dog with a bladder problem. The emails and alerts that a comment, event or suggestion was made about someone's status often pulls me off a project that is more important, and in need of my full focus. My position requires me to be online, but that also means that I have to discipline my habits to ignore the chatter and let it all pile up like the inbox on your desk during your Newsy days.

    Being connected to such a huge number of friends and relatives means that they already have a foot in the door when it comes to my attention... Before Facebook (BFB) I'd never been so wired into that level of connection, other than my wife and kids. It requires a new set of filter and response rules.

  2. Smoke break, water cooler catch-up, hallway run-ins ... yep, I think your analogy works! And as a currently unemployed person, FB can be as dangerous as crack cocaine. Definitely have to moderate the intake. ~ John Mc