Say what you want about Facebook, but the recent $50 billion valuation by Goldman Sachs is nothing to laugh about. I joined the site almost four years ago, uploaded some pictures of myself and checked the site only occasionally, as only a handful of my friends were on the site at the time. Today, almost everyone I care to know (and several in which I don’t) are on the site. Contrary to what I initially believed back in 2007, this has been no fad, like Bebo, Friendster or MySpace. And the site had perfect timing as well. If it were not for mobile devices the site would not be as big as it is. Let’s be honest, I only check the desktop version of the ‘Book once a month or so, but since I have my phone with me at all times, it doesn’t hurt to check quickly once or twice a day as I am waiting in line at Costco, waiting for my train or watching a program on TV. What the site has created is incredible because of its sheer numbers. If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest country in the world. More people spent time on Facebook in 2010 than other website in the world. And the company keeps innovating, which is crucial for its survival. It is creating a generation of people, young and old, that are used to living their lives subject to constant scrutiny and comment by anyone they are friends with, including those they don’t know so well. When I joined the site back in 2007, there was no way I would have imagined that I would still be checking the site four years later. I wholeheartedly expected to upload some info into the cloud, only to have it drift away as time went on. But the site is real and has had more staying power than I ever would’ve guessed. Whether you like the company or not at this point, everyone you know is on there and once you join, escaping is futile.
As much as I love this city, and know I will miss it the day I leave, I sometimes feel that enough is enough. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy commuting into the city for work and have enjoyed the innumerable sources of entertainment the New York City streets can freely offer, but I wonder sometimes what we are doing here. On New Year’s Day I came into Manhattan with my family. Parking was a disaster, although we eventually managed to find free street parking thanks to the hard work and quick thinking of my wife. After lunch at a friend’s house, someone had the brilliant idea to head to Times Square with our two young kids. We made it out alive, but not without the added stress that the City can bring. My two young daughters enjoyed the stimulation that the hustle and bustle provided, but I longed for the suburban sprawl that has overtaken so much of the country, where I can drive from parking lot to parking lot and enjoy the same stores as found in New York with less hassle. I dare to say that I am getting old. When I was younger the glamorous streets of New York City called my name and eventually lured me to its opportunities and excitement. As a family man, New York City is pushing me out, as it makes little sense for me at this point to remain tied to the metropolis, the costs involved, the deteriorating infrastructure and the hassle. And this year is the year we will try to do something about it. After almost seven years here we will attempt this year to make the move back west later this year. Stay tuned to see how it turns out.