Is Facebook just a huge time suck?

You may know who Mark Cuban is.  He rose to prominence as the co-founder of, an internet radio company acquired by Yahoo for just under $6 billion dollars (he is purported to be worth 2.3 billion).  He spent a cool $285 million to buy majority ownership in the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, a role that thrust him into the collective consciousness.

It turns out that Cuban is the perfect storm of a technology CEO who is engrossed in social media and who has the courage to tell it like it is.  And he’s got a pretty strong opinion on the current state of social media.

Acknowledging a certain type of courage

This week when embroiled in a Twitter spat with some Lakers fans, he said something so awesome that it changed my lexicon forever:

“There is just more Twitter courage in Southern California than probably any other part of the world.”

Just by the numbers, there probably is more Twitter courage on the east coast…. but ignore that aspect of his statement.  “Twitter courage” is the perfect description for the affliction that causes some people to post wildly inappropriate or disturbing things on Twitter that they otherwise would never dare to say.

I share this not only because it was entertaining but also because it led me to a bigger insight.

Facebook as a huge time suck

As I researched more about Cuban’s statement, I found a blog post where he also made some critical and valid remarks about Facebook’s self-awareness.  Here are a few excerpts:

“FB is an alternative to boredom. FB is far more like TV than it is Google Search”

“…for some reason FB doesn’t seem to want to accept that it’s best purpose in life is as a huge time suck platform that we use to keep up with friends, interests and stuff.  I think that they are over thinking what their network is all about .”

 “IMHO, FB really risks screwing up something that is special in our lives as a time waster by thinking they have to make it more engaging and efficient.”

“FB is over complicating a simple issue.  A user can govern his/her newsfeed far better by hitting unlike than an algorithm like EdgeRank ever can.”

When Cuban says that he is “de-emphasizing” Facebook for his businesses, that’s an important insight.  When he articulates the problems that Edgerank presents both personally and professionally, those are important insights.  And the next insight he publishes will be worth listening to as well.

It certainly doesn’t mean that you have to agree with everything that he says, but he brings a unique and necessary insight to the conversation.

What do you think about Cuban’s insights about Facebook?  Do you think Facebook is self-aware or do they suffer from severe blind spots?   And how much Twitter courage do you feel today?  :)

Photo Credit

Jim Dougherty

Jim Dougherty

Writer and chief of miscellany at
I'm the guy that wrote the article you just read. Sorry for the typos.
  • Shonali Burke

    I love that phrase – “Twitter courage!” More on the FB question later…

    • Jim Dougherty

      Ha! Me, too. Thanks for the comment. As for Facebook – I think you use it more effectively than most people I know so would be interested to get your take on his comments.

  • Bojan Djordjevic

    I think people misuse Facebook in marketing and in personal use as well.

    • Oz D du Soleil

      Bojan, I think “misuse” assumes that a person is consciously building something and is going about it in the wrong way.

      In a roundabout way, Cuban’s post invites us all to wise up and get present to what the heck we’re building and what our relationship to Facebook is.

      Giving it some thought … Facebook, for me, is like a digital version of Times Square in the 80s. Cool place to go out and be around people, but beware because you’re subject to encounter ANYthing.
      The way to misuse it would be to take it too seriously or try to contain it.

    • Jim Dougherty

      Agree! Thanks so much for reading and for your comment, Bojan!

  • Jack Durish

    I have had success driving traffic to my website/weblog using Twitter. How much success? I can’t say. I don’t have anything to compare it with other than day-to-day analytics. In other words, I’m doing better today than I did yesterday. Facebook? I don’t know. Friends have encouraged me to create a “fan page” on FB. Of course, that will be another “time sink.” I don’t mind investing the time if I get a decent ROI. But time is more precious to me now than when I began experimenting with Twitter. I don’t have so much to spare anymore. Mark Cuban’s words as you have quoted them here, give me pause.

    • Jim Dougherty

      Thanks Jack! You’re a great example – there is such a fraternity of veterans who can relate to your posts (I read your Memorandum of Understanding yesterday and nodded the entire time) – there should be utility for people to find this, but if I were your fan on Facebook in all likelihood I would have missed it. Of course with Twitter the same thing happens proportional to how many people you follow. So to Cuban’s point, the allure is the people but the system makes connecting quite difficult. I can’t say that I know what my point was with this except to say that I think more veterans should be aware of your stuff. Thanks for commenting!

  • Bradley Howard

    This completely misses the point of Facebook. I know people who don’t use email any longer – they only use Facebook messages. Their entire digital life is on Facebook – photos, videos & messages. They don’t use any other services. Facebook is a communications platform which provides all the features for using the Internet in 2012.

    To say, to the vast majority of the 1 billion users, it’s a time waster, is like telling car drivers that cars are unnecessary – they can walk or get a horse.

    • Jim Dougherty

      Thanks Bradley – point taken. Of course, Cuban’s issues with Pagerank would be even more valid in that case if they missed 86% of messages, and other people missed the same amount of theirs. Thanks for commenting and reading.

  • Jacob Curtis

    “FB is an alternative to boredom. FB is far more like TV than it is Google Search”

    What a great quote. I’ve never thought of it that way, but when I sit down and think about it, it’s totally true.

    I find that Facebook and Twitter are the first tabs I open when I hop online.

    However if a user is bored and on Facebook. It still means they are on the platform and could possibly see your business ad or update.

    • Jim Dougherty

      Thanks Jacob. I agree that it’s a pretty insightful way to approach Facebook. Appreciate the comment!

  • Greta Boris

    I definitely find Twitter to be better for business and for connecting to new people. Facebook is for keeping in touch with old friends in my book. I think Twitter courage could be labeled Twitter foolishness, often.

    • Jim Dougherty

      Thanks Greta! I agree. The one thing I appreciate about Twitter is that you can go back in time rather easily, whereas the sorting that Cuban discusses leaves a lot lost. Thanks for commenting!

  • Oz

    Cuban’s is one more voice that reminds us to keep things in perspective–whatever Facebook thinks it is or isn’t. Who cares what Facebook thinks it is? We should really be concerned about the social media “coaches” who want us to set up a zillion accounts that we can’t maintain, want us blogging when we aren’t inspired to blog, and to resist is certain damnation. That stuff can be the real time suck and highly stressful.

    But I can see Cuban’s point. As Facebook throws more stuff at us and tinkers with their product, it can be unsettling. I wish I could turn off Zynga rather than block every new game that comes out each day.

    • Jim Dougherty

      Great insight, Oz! I think that trying to be Scott Monty on a Jim Dougherty budget is a recipe for failure, and the unrealistic expectations that many coaches promote for social media adds to that stress. And to the point about Facebook, if Pagerank isn’t intuitive enough to know that we don’t want to be inundated by Zynga, it probably isn’t very effective. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • Oz

        You’re welcome. I like what you’re doing here. Helps me keep perspective. :-)

  • HowieG

    This is great. Yes I am cautious about those sponsored tweets for brands. There is a very dark and nasty underbelly to twitter. Just read the conservative hashtag #TCOT and that is the mild one. You get racists, neo-nazi’s, haters, etc just where you want your Skippy Peanut Butter add showing up next too.

    As for Facebook that is very astute for Mark Cuban. I agree 100%.