Returning to Facebook

Waving goodbye

The above picture can be interpreted in 2 ways – as saying goodbye and waving hello. Today, it’s a hello as I return to Facebook

Believe it or not, I recently contemplated about returning to FB, though for a different reason than most might think.

Review of why I deleted Facebook

First off, just to clarify – All the original reasons I had for deleting FB still stand. When I deleted facebook, it was in Jan this year. A large part of why I deleted my account can be summed up to the following reasons:

  1. Facebook became a time-suck rather than a value-adding tool.
  2. As far as connecting with real life friends are concerned, I’m able to do that perfectly fine via other tools, such as via text messages, phone or email. Facebook served little purpose in this regard. If anything, it added a lot of “noise” in my relationships to others. There were too alerts and notifications, and half of which didn’t mean much in relationship building.
  3. Facebook was doing a lot of funky things, like adding a whole list of features which I have zero use for (Games, Events, Groups, etc), having an opt-out rather than opt-in approach which generated a lot of spam in the process, doing an average job in their spam management, and so on. I was getting a huge bunch of alerts that I had to repeatedly, manually unsubscribe from (due to the opt-out vs. opt-in thing). None of them had relevance to me.
  4. I had no use for the FB inbox and felt frustrated at the inability to turn it off. I felt like I had an extra inbox to check, and extra messages to process every day, all of which could be avoided if they just gave you the option to turn it off. But of course, FB wouldn’t want that as it would lose the appeal of having a FB account for others. FB wanted people to have a reason to repeatedly visit it every day.
  5. Due to #3 and #4, my FB account became a pain to maintain. I was using my FB personal account to connect with readers, and since the inbox/events/groups can’t be turned off for personal accounts, I was getting a lot of spam. Also, I was receiving a lot of private messages from readers; messages which have already been addressed on my contact page to begin with. With 5,000 friends, the problem was heavily compounded. Since most people don’t use FB for the same purpose as I do (to connect with blog readers), I recognize this issue is more isolated for me.
  6. The Personal Excellence Facebook Page (with over 3,000 likes) was made redundant after setting up Personal Excellence Forums. Readers were gathering in 2 different places, one at the FB page, and another at PE Forums, and it was dividing the community. As part of building the community, it made more sense to axe the FB fan page and direct everyone to PE Forums, which, as a full-fledged, dedicated forum avenue for PE, is a better place to enable everyone achieve excellence in life.

Improvements to my life after deleting Facebook

It’s now May and 4 months since I’ve deleted Facebook, and all of the things that I reported in Life without Facebook update are still valid.

Firstly, I don’t miss it at all as far as connecting with real life friends is concerned. After deleting FB, I suddenly gained a lot more clarity with regards to my relationships with friends, and where they stood. I realized that FB gave a lot of us an illusion of connectivity, because we’d be seeing each other’s wall updates and status feeds.

But when the dust settles and everything clears, you get a clear sense on how close you are with friends, which relationships have been lacking, which friends you’ve been drifting away from, which relationships require more work, and so on. It became apparent who I’d not been in contact with for a while, and that it was time to arrange a meet-up and catch-up, vs. using wall updates, status feed and profile pages as a sorry excuse for being in touch.

I feel like I’ve progressed so much more in terms of building authentic relationships with others in the past few months, vs. the 1-2 years when I was managing my fast growing FB list of 5,000 friends. Vs. managing my Facebook profile and checking who’s doing what, I now make it a point to meet up with good friends and acquaintances every week, and get to know each other on a more personal level than through surface-level wall updates.

Secondly, I’ve also been relieved of a lot of the spam and communication clutter, mostly created due to poor functionality on FB’s part. No more extra inbox to check, no more alerts on events/groups I’m not interested in, no more alerts of friend requests which I’m unfortunately unable to add because of the 5,000 friends limit on FB.

Thirdly, I’m able to concentrate on community development at PE Forums, now that there’s 1 single spot for people to gather. In the past few months, there have been strong bonds fostered. We now have 750 active members, many of them who visit several times a week, and many high value discussions brewing. The challenges from the past months (Apr 30DLBL, MDC, BIB) have drawn everyone together even more.

Why I’m returning to Facebook

Where Facebook comes back into the picture, is my realization that there’s a group of Personal Excellence readers whom I may be missing out on. While there’s PE Forums, it’s more catered for community building and meeting other like-minded people on the journey of growth. I realized there may be members/Personal Excellence readers who are just looking more to connect on a personal level with me, just as I want to connect with them as well. They may not be interested to be part of a larger community in growth and partake in all the discussions/value-added resources the forums has to offer (yet), so joining PE Forums will be irrelevant to them. Connecting on Facebook, however, isn’t.

One thing is I very much miss after deleting FB is the 1-1 connection with all of you on my old Facebook account. The regular wall conversations with you guys, how I can immediately pose a question asking for help on my feed and get your insightful replies within half a day, being able to get instant feedback on things I’m planning next and posts I’m writing now, etc. These were the great parts about having a FB account in the past; it was just that the spam issues were so serious that it outweighed the benefits.

But I love connecting with people. Most importantly, I love connecting with you guys and I don’t want to stop. The reason why I started Personal Excellence is because I want to connect and reach out to all of you. Where that’s missing, there’s little incentive for me to write any further. When I lost that personal connection with all of you with the closure of my FB account, many days I felt like I was writing to no one, like a blank void in the universe. While I knew that thousands of people would be reading my next entry, I had no idea who was going to be reading, for what, how they were like in real life, etc. The whole blog began to feel empty. Meaningless, in fact, like I was writing for the sake for writing.

All of you are people whom I’ll love to know better, put a face to, and connect as individuals vs. a blob of statistics on my Google Analytics / Statcounter accounts. The former is what motivates and inspires me on my path; the latter means nothing to me at all, other than for measurement and performance tracking purposes. I don’t blog to get higher numbers on my blog counters, though it may occur as a result of blogging. I blog to connect with all of you.

I also recognize that removing my FB and closing off my contact form from personal contact (for good reason) may have distanced myself away from all of you, and that’s far from what I want.

I want to be accessible to all of you reading at the blog. I want to know who you are and why you’re here. I want to know how you’re doing, whether you’re well, what you’re thinking, and how you’re feeling. I want to use scalable methods to remove as many walls between us as possible (i.e. can be extended to all other readers without serious spam issues).

This is why I’ve been thinking of a solution to address this. And I think I may have found the solution by way of a Facebook page. 😀

(Re)-starting a Facebook Page

Since FB is the dominant social media tool today, it makes the most sense to leverage on it as the platform to connect with all of you. Most people use FB as a tool of convenience, so it is the choice medium to reach out to the masses. As long as FB as a service delivers value to others, it’ll continue to play a role in my outreach to you guys.

So yesterday, as part of my plan to bridge the gap above, I created a new Facebook page. Click to view: My Facebook Page.

There are several things that makes me believe it’ll be different from my previous encounter with FB:

  • I’ll be connecting with all of you via the FB Page vs. FB personal account. This means previous issues regarding inbox, events and group spam won’t exist anymore. Finally, I get to use it purely as a platform where I can connect with all of you, without barriers – just the way I want it to be.
  • Since it’s a FB Page, there’s no limit of 5,000 friends. That means I can now connect with as many of you as possible. This was previously an issue as I couldn’t add anyone after 5,000 friends, and it was frustrating not to be able to approve new readers trying to add me.
  • There’s no need to manually approve new members to the page vs. a FB personal account, where you have to authorize each add. This makes it much easier to maintain.
  • FB has added a new function, where you can use FB as your Page account, not your personal account. That works out great for me, as I have no use for my FB personal account. In terms of administration, it’s a huge plus.
  • The FB page is for me as a person (meaning it’s a Celestine Chua page rather than a Personal Excellence page), since I’m creating the page to connect with all of you individually. It’s not a page for community building – Where community building is concerned, PE Forums is the one place for people passionate about personal excellence. In short, FB = Primary me connecting with you and vice versa; PE Forums = Everyone connecting with everyone else.

Hence, there’s sufficient reason to believe previous issues I experienced with FB wouldn’t resurface. As for the rest, I can only know when I start using it, which is what I’m doing now. I’ll be using the page a trial run for the next few months to see how it goes. Given time, I’m sure all will unveil itself. 😀

The unique role that FB serves here is that it is a great tool to connect with people who are not in your active circle (i.e., these people are not within your immediate reach). For example, friends who traveled overseas to study/work. Friends who are migrating to a different country. Acquaintances from work and business. In my case, it’s to connect with all of you out there. 😀

In light of the above, I do not see the use of Facebook as a backtrack at all, since I’m not returning to use FB in the same capacity as before. Rather, I take it as a step forward as I’m now clearer of the purpose FB serves in my life/business/work and how to best use it for that purpose, and I’ve learned how important connecting with all of you is to me.

Speaking of which, I hope you know that while this is a Facebook Page and most people use pages as a way to “idolize” or “cultize” a person or a celebrity, I in no way see this as such. My sole purpose for creating this page is to connect with you, one-on-one, person to person, human to human. It’s not to attain or gain some popularity status, or anything like that. I don’t see myself as a celebrity, or as a guru, or an expert, or higher than anyone, which is quite frankly, absolutely ridiculous and full of crap. I’m using a FB page because it’s most suited for what I want to achieve here, functionality-wise (for reasons cited above). I’m only here as someone who earnestly wants to connect with you and know you as a friend in life; someone who’s passionate about your growth and want to be with you in your journey of growth as well, just as I’ve been doing through the blog and everywhere else.

With regards to my FB personal account, I have no plans to use it at all. I only created an account because you need to have a FB account to create a FB page. My personal account has zero friends at the moment and will probably stay that way unless something changes.

If you’re a FB user, the great thing about “Liking” the page and being a part of it includes:

  • You now get a new channel to get instant updates on latest Personal Excellence posts (on top of the newsletter, which you should most definitely join if you’re not on it yet)
  • I’ll be adding exclusive content for the page, such as videos, vegan/raw vegan recipes, simple FAQs, etc
  • There may be special offers and prizes exclusive for the Page members from time-to-time (e.g. new, free ebooks)
  • By being part of the page, you’re giving me the chance and honor to know you personally, which I’ll be deeply be grateful for. I sincerely want to know all of you who read the blog, see your faces, and get to know you as people and common souls living in the same world.
  • You now have an easy channel to share your feedback/comments/appreciation on the blog and the blog posts. After closing the comments a year ago, some readers may have missed out on the opportunity to share their thoughts on the posts (if you don’t know, you can still comment on the posts in PE Forums, but it may not be convenient for non-forum members). With the Facebook page, blog posts are posted on the wall instantly, and  you can easily reply there.
  • We get to connect with each other on a personal level! I make it a point to review the wall posts and reply to each post where necessary.

“Like” the new page and Win a Copy of Personal Excellence Book!

Since the FB page just started, there are just 3 members currently. It looks like a ghost town!!

To encourage everyone to join the new Facebook page and as a special thank you, I’ll be giving away a free copy of Personal Excellence Book to a random member of the page! With over 860 pages, Personal Excellence Book contains over 130 all-time classics from Personal Excellence and is a must-have for any reader of the blog. It’s what you’d call as “the handbook to live your best life”.

To qualify:

  1. Simply “Like” the page and you’re automatically placed in the draw.
  2. RT the post: “Returning to Facebook (and Win a Copy of Personal Excellence Book!) via @celestinechua” to be considered for a separate, second entry (You’ve to include a link to this blog post and @celestinechua so that I know you’ve RTed it
  3. The lucky winner will be drawn on May 20! Winner will be announced on the Facebook page on May 2first.

If you already purchased a copy of PEBook from before, I sincerely thank you for your support. All the more reason for you to join the Facebook page – I’ll shower you with lots of love and goodness, promise. 😀

So, what are you waiting for? Head over to the Facebook page now and click “Like”. Share it with your friends if they read the blog! Thanks everyone – I really appreciate all your support and love. Look forward to connecting with you on a more personal level from now on!

Update May 21, 2011: The draw has ended and the winner is Meredith Wessels! Meredith wins a copy of Personal Excellence Book – your handbook to live your best life, with over 130 of the best articles at PE. Thanks everyone who “liked” the page in our first week of launch – We’ve 540 over 15,000 members now (as of Aug 2015) and growing strong! Join us at the page now: Celestine Chua Facebook Page.

Image: Waving goodbye