facebook Tim Leffel

I broke down and started a Cheapest Destinations fan page. Come like me if you like me. Or if you just like what I write about.

From the start I’ve been a reluctant Facebook user. I liked the movie and do I admire the ability of anyone to build something that addictive that fast. We haven’t seen such a concoction since the crack epidemic started. Instead of giving your money and your health though, you give all your personal data and a big heap of all your friends’ data. It’s an advertiser’s ultimate fantasy and everyone is still voluntarily signing up by the millions.

I avoid spending much time on there for a more prosaic reason though: it’s a massive time suck. TV is a productivity black hole too, but after a while you go, “Man, there is just nothing on.” With Facebook that never happens. Every minute there’s something new, designed just for you! Your college buddy just posted vacation photos. Your old boss has a birthday. Your sister got a new job. Your work colleague just posted a video that is hi-lar-i-ous. There’s a half-off sale at your favorite shoe store. A special on your favorite beer at the bar down the street. And look at what that cute cat is doing! Plus it’s not passive: there are groups of people obsessed with exactly what you’re obsessed with and you can talk about it any time of the day, wherever you live.

If you’re unemployed and have nothing to do, great fun. If you’re trying to run a business and support a family, half a day can go by interacting with all this and you’ve gotten bumpkis done.

Facebook addict

…and this is from 2012.

The Trouble with 1,000 Virtual Friends

While I’ve long had pages for the websites I run (links on the home pages if you’re interested), my personal one has been, well, personal. I see updates from real people I’ve hung out with and shared jokes with, in person. Relatives I’ve seen 10 times. People I’ve traveled with. You know, friends, not “friends.”

This has long made me an oddball minority though. One day a well-known Travel Channel celebrity host sent me a friend request and I mentioned it to my wife because it seemed odd. “You accepted it, right?” the wife asked.

“Well, I’ve only seen her on TV. I don’t know her,” I replied. “Not even by e-mail.”

“So what?! Just accept it!”

I did, but it bugged me because it broke my rule. There’s a constant push-me, pull-me tug going on from me trying to promote my projects but also trying to keep some shred of my personal life shielded from my work life. I spent seven years working for a record company where my work life was my only life. It was great fun partying with the same crowd I worked with, but when I left that job, I left my entire social structure and nightlife schedule on 6th Avenue in New York. There was no separation between “colleagues” and “friends,” something I didn’t truly grasp until I suddenly had lots of time on my hands. I may be an entrepreneur now, but that doesn’t mean I have to be selling 24/7.

Leffel working

So I’m bowing to the need to have fans and likes in a way I can’t do on my “friends and relatives” page. I’ll probably post more often on this new page because I won’t feel like I’m boring my friends and relatives who don’t travel—or rubbing it in their face that I’m in a new country every month or two for work. And it’s my job to stay at beach resorts and go hiking through the Andes Mountains.

Come join me on the Cheapest Destinations page and we’ll talk about cheap travel, living abroad, and where to get $1 beers. Hey, if you only pop in once every week or two, believe me, I’ll understand.

Who’s with me?