Facebook: Building a Business for Someone Else

Back in the Golden Age of the Internet, circa 2004, everyone who had a connection to the web had a blog. Or two or three. That’s just what we did with the web in those days, as MySpace was annoying and AOL had run out of CDs to mail us.

We were creating content en masse. Not always great content, I admit, but we were self-publishing like nobody’s business. Writing about our day, posting pictures of our pets and children, that sort of stuff. The same stuff we do on Facebook every day now.

But back then, we were the owners of our content. As some of us wrote hundreds and thousands of posts, that had a real payoff: Google saw that we were creating loads of content and decided to reward us with good rankings in their search results.

Some of us were reluctant to start Facebooking. The whole idea of keeping in touch with people from high school you didn’t like back then, and getting to know intimate details of their everyday goings on was just not all that appealing. But then we all slowly realized that on Facebook, you’ve got a very real audience. You can see people interacting daily with your posts, your content on there has validation. Sure, there are ways we can know this on our blogs, too, but let’s face it: few blogs get as much commenting and interaction as your Facebook News Feed.

So we began participating on Facebook. And blogging less.

We’re still creating loads of content, but we’re building a better website for Facebook, not for ourselves. We’re all collectively creating something that we will get no real reward from. We’ve indeed built the largest website in the world, and really have nothing to show for it. We’ll never convert our Facebook friends to customers, we aren’t increasing our mailing lists or taking our businesses to the next level. We’re just making Facebook money.

Which is fine, really. Most of us didn’t start blogs to make money from it, even if an online business grew out of those blogs. But I think it’s something worth being aware of: you could be creating something for yourself, but instead you’re likely just adding to the pile that is someone else’s accomplishments.

It’s quite similar to how society as a whole has gone. We used to build our own houses, grow and hunt our own food, mend our own clothes, teach our own children. We were almost completely in control of everything, and I’m not referring to the Roman Empire or the Stone Age here, this is what life was like for most of America even in the early 1900s.

We’ve since moved away from being able to support ourselves, and instead converted to a society where we all fill specific roles. We’re bank tellers and graphic designers and pizza delivery boys. And at the end of the day, most of us have nothing to show for our hard work, for the things we’ve built, because we’re building them for someone else. A teller at a bank doesn’t own the bank. When they lose their job or quit or retire, nothing about that bank is there’s. A graphic designer creates things for other companies, other entities. They are not left with anything really, truly there own. And so on for nearly every other profession.

Sure, we may have purchased homes with the money from those jobs, but even those are not truly ours. If we fail to pay taxes on that land, we lose it. I know I want to create something that is mine, that I own, and that can only be taken away from me if I choose to get rid of it.

Up Next: Evil Empires