So January has come and gone, 2012 is well on it’s way, and everyone is full swing into work mode again.

There seems to be a pervasive air of optimism around. Everywhere I go, people are talking things up. All very different from last year, when we all suffered from the 2010 hangover.

So facebook is worth 20 billion US dollars? Wow! That is a huge amount of paper millionaires that are walking around. All of which got me to thinking….

What is facebook really about? Is it about sharing photos with friends? finding old school chums? keeping tabs on ex girlfriends? playing some games?

I think  (and this is my opinion so feel free to disagree), that facebook is all about the ‘I’. How popular ‘I’ can be, how much ‘I’ have done, where ‘I’ have been, look at me, see how great/bad/happy/sad/etc etc. ‘I’ am.

facebook is a personal broadcaster of me, and my life. And my ‘friends’ can either ‘like’ the things I say about my life, or like the majority, remain silent. Ah, yes, the silence…

So when I post about the fantastic work day I had, and 12 people click that they ‘like’ it, the rest of my friends are notably quiet. Why? ’cause they had a bad week? ’cause they hate their jobs? ’cause they suck at what they do? ’cause some of them don’t have jobs? And so on and so on. I guess m point is that facebook has become a way of making a part of our lives visible. A part we choose to ‘share’ with a circle of ‘friends’. And not all friends are going to ‘like’ what you have to say about yourself.

facebook raises many questions while answering a startling few. So how are you doing? bought a new car? you must be doing well then! moved into a new house? nice new furniture dude! And people read things into your life, the way they want to, and make assumptions based on what you post. mostly.

facebook opens your day to day world to people you would normally have limited access to. People you may have seen once or twice a year. With Time such a precious commodity, how many people can we really connect with in any given period? 12? 6? 4?

We are all part of the system now, who can say that they will no longer post updates to facebook? Not many. I too have tried going off facebook, only to return again. I also tried other things, like removing toxic friends, people who shared my status updates with my ex, and tightened up on my profile security and so on, but I guess what makes facebook so alluring and keeps pulling us back is that it is driven by our personal need to share ourselves, a version of ourselves, that will make us popular, even if its only for 12 people, 6 likes, or 4 approvals. We return, each day, to see what our friends have been up to and also to tell them what we have done, or are planning to do. We share pics of things we see, places we go to, friends we spend time with. And then we wait, patiently for a comment, or two, or 4 or 6 or 12..

Another way of looking at the facebook valuation is to say that you and I and our ‘friends’ lives are valued at 20 billion US dollars. Our reputations are now worth so much and is so valuable, and yet we share this information freely. We open ourselves to our facebook friends in a way we seldom do with our real world, day to day friends. And facebook friends are neatly segregated into categories, some need be seen only every now and again. And if you have enough of a person, disagree with a post, then its really simple, you hide them, or better yet delete them. Easy. 1, 2, 3 and they gone. No messy emotional scenes in coffee shops, no phone calls, just delete, gone, no goodbye.

What are you doing to protect your online reputation? Are you choosing your ‘friends’ more carefully? Mixing work  and friends? Perhaps its time then  to head over to facebook and check those friends settings…catch your updates later (or not…)