On Saturday morning, I woke up to find a picture at the top of my Facebook homepage that reminded me of something from six years ago. My roommates and I had taken funny pictures around the old La-Z-Boy recliner in our kitchen. It was like our Christmas card family portrait.
I’m glad Facebook reminded me of that memory. I presumed that Facebook also posted the same photo to the homepages of my old roommates. In a sense, it kind of brought the four of us together again in some magical, existential way—us all remembering the fond memories of that evening and our life together that year.
If recalling that fond memory wasn’t enough, Facebook even told me that it cared about me.
“John, we care about you and the memories you share here,” Facebook wrote, above the picture.
But as nice as it was to re-live that memory, I don’t think Facebook pinned that photo to my homepage only to make me feel good.
Nor do I think it was there because they care about me.
Rather, they care about the memories that I share or the pictures that I post because the company wants to grow.
Another example might be a store that advertises that, because it appreciates its customers, it is offering a big sale.
But is that accurate?
Would a store offer a special discount because it appreciates its customers? Or is it because the store wants to increase its sales?
Certainly, companies want to connect with their customers. They want to make us feel good. But they also want to increase their empires.
I think we all know that.
To what extent is it accurate, then, for a company to tell me that they care about me?
Furthermore, is it even possible for a company (a non-living thing) to care about people?
Maybe a better question is, What does it mean to care for someone?
I suppose Facebook’s note wouldn’t have sounded the same if it would have said:
John, we care about the money and growth your participation on Facebook brings to our company. We want to grow and continue to make money, so we are showing you this nice picture in hopes that you will share it and increase social interaction which, inevitably, benefits our company.”
I have to hand it to Facebook, though.
At least when they told me that they cared about me, they also added that they care about the memories that I share on Facebook.
That part is absolutely true, ultimately, because of the benefits it brings to the company.
But maybe I have all of this wrong.
Perhaps it is possible for a company to actually care about its customers without any other reasons or intentions attached. Perhaps it is possible that Facebook cares about me because of who I am, not because of my (very small) role in enhancing its growth.
I think all of this leads to this takeaway:
Let us be mindful of the reasons we say what we say. Let us be aware of not only what we say, but why we say it.