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Facebook and SEO: Blogging about Facebook.

BREAKING NEWS has long synonymous with a story that is anything but immediate or important. Nowadays, something as trivial as what airport a has-been sportsman has been spotted in makes it onto the list of stories that are deemed newsworthy enough to announce with a megaphone.

Every so often, a story will actually have some significance and the media, with their boy that cried wolf tendency to shout a lot about the little, will have to devise some ingenious new method to get our attention. Usually, this involves words like ‘epidemic’ or even worse, ‘pandemic’ and various experts from various fields of research spouting spurious hypothetical claims that are reliant on a million conditions coming true before the world immediately ceases to spin on its axis and implodes into nothingness. A lot of conditional and subjunctive moods are euphemised into a credible sounding situation and professional bollocks announcers like Kay Burley can trick us into thinking we have fifteen minutes to live because a cattle farmer in North Yorkshire has found a mouse in a barn that has the sniffles.

Like most people, I can pinpoint where I was in the world when I heard about the big stories of my lifetime. With one exception, I have never actually been tuned-in to the news to see a breaking story. I don’t sit poised in front of the TV waiting for something to happen and besides, with social networking, there really is no longer any need for news channels as we currently know them.

I have heard about several recent big stories on social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook long before the news channels have even realised there was a story. And that is the point: social networking is no longer just about talking to friends; it has become something far greater. Some workplaces are reliant on Facebook to carry out their day-to-day business and some simply couldn’t operate without the multitudinous streams of information we are offered by such sites. Social networking has made the ‘geek chic’ image tolerable and in some cases, even attractive: YouTube gave birth to Justin Bieber by sellotaping some facial features to a potato and look how far he’s managed to get.

Like it or not, social networking is a huge part of our lives and a huge part of the current world we live in. It has helped oppressed countries in the Middle East to revolutionise the way people communicate and to bypass autocratic crushing of the individual voice. It is a truly magnificent tool, as long as it is used responsibly. With as many global users to fill the USA twice, there is a huge voice behind Facebook, not to mention other platforms available for users to sign up to.

Of course, social networking does have drawbacks. Let us not forget that recent riots in England’s cities were largely organised using social networking. Unlike places such as Libya who staged valid protests over their government, or lack thereof, while the ones held on our soil were not a result of oppression by shitty, amoral kids wanting some freebies.

The only danger I can forecast is if we actually substitute our own lives for a social network reality. Some people get a little carried away building an online version of themselves: an avatar that is slimmer, fitter and better looking than they are. We become fascinated with our profiles and this can only lead to one end – a bad one. Without anything other than perfect avatars in cyberspace, it’s only a matter of time until Facebookpocalypse.

Picture the scene: 2015. I tentatively edge to the door of my newly appointed counsellor, walk in and lower myself down onto chair where I sit, nervously waiting for him or her – let’s go with her – to enter the room.

She walks in with a wry smile on her face and feigns concern to the best of her ability. But I’m the third she’s seen today. “So, what seems to be the problem?” she enquires, flicking her hand over my notes that she’s been hastily handed moments before. It makes no difference; we’re all the same. She rolls her eyes, thinking I haven’t noticed.

Then, the confession pours out of my mouth. I can’t stop it. Once I begin to speak, I go from a state of tongue-tied lassitude to verbal chaos, with the confession of my addiction moving faster than my mind can compute.

Of course, I’m forecasting the Social Network Pandemic that we are heading towards. Every day, millions of people’s routines have been adjusted to incorporate a relentless refreshing of whichever social networking site they obsessively check.

It starts with something small – you sign up for Facebook and think little about it. Sure, you don’t mind it; you only really signed up because your friends were doing it and you didn’t want to be left out. You set up your page, eager to get to the 100% mark on your profile completion. It’s almost too late before you’ve even started. Then you find yourself logging on more frequently; once a day is no longer enough. You find your fingers typing F-A-C-E-B-O-O-K-.-C-O-M, almost without realising they are moving. You check every few minutes to see if anything has changed. Nothing for the first three clicks and then bang! The forth click reveals an update. You flick between ‘Most Recent’ and ‘Top News’ and hope desperately that someone has invited you to an event or a friend request has come through so you can snoop around the applicant’s profile before accepting or rejecting them.

Then, Facebook is no longer enough. You need something more: something with more updates. You log onto Twitter and sign up for an account. You start following friends and celebrities you know and love. You look what’s trending and use a hashtag or two in your own tweets, hoping for a retweet or additional followers.

You wake up one day, pick up your phone and click on Facebook, then Twitter and then Facebook again. “I think you need some help” – The rational voice of a friend offering support. What do they know? Your dependency starts to annoy you. You can’t concentrate without logging on at every given opportunity.

Days later, you tap your pockets to remind yourself where you put your phone. It’s not there! You panic and look around, paranoid you’re being followed. Someone must have taken it. They will sabotage your profile! You start accusing friends. “What have you done with it?” – You cast aspersions left, right and centre. You alienate yourself from your peers and you see yourself, for a moment as your friends do. You discover the error of your ways, but it’s too late for you now.

It turns out your phone was in your jacket pocket. Keep in under control, hey?

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