(Random bird photo that has no connection with the story!)
There once was a train. A little blue train. It was small compared to the other big snooty engines in the yard, but he worked hard, he worked steady, and he got a fairly good reputation for himself. He consisted of a smiley engine, one utility car, and a caboose with a big dark blue FB painted on the side. Why the name was on the caboose and not on the engine was anybody’s guess, but that is what I noticed when I first met him.
Well, being small and of little strength did not mean that FB was of little brain. No. He actually had been milling about, toying with some great ideas–grand bigger-than-small-ideas that would make his role in the yard more indispensable.
He started carrying messages from some of the more cumbersome engines to the station master and other interested parties. The black, sooty engines started depending on this communication vehicle more and more. They had not realized just how out of touch they had been with the other engines and boxcars hither and yon. As the message traffic grew, little blue FB added more cars–some for messages, but just as many for the fun games and ads folks seemed to enjoy.
Big Black had not known how empty his life had been before being able to update his life status with Sleek Silver. He updated now daily. Sometimes even on an hourly basis. Rocket Red got so involved in Steelville and Scribble that he kind of forgot a few important runs that his owners had negotiated. He figured with the extra brain cells he was generating from the games, though, he would in the long run become an asset to his bosses.
With all this bustle, the little FB-that-thought-he-could huffed and puffed, shuffling information back and forth, adding more cars as needed–red cars, blue cars, yellow cars. Most carried company logos now and advertising slogans since producers had noticed all this activity and saw it as a great chance to make money. In the process, FB kept earning more and more money himself from these advertisers, so much so that he opened an offshore bank account in the Cayman Islands to avoid having the greedy station master skim off too much of his profit.
Because the initial messaging service was free, more and more engines came on board–some who had only had a vague recognition of each other to date. Some thought they may have passed each other on some run at some time in the distant past. Or at least they knew someone else who probably had. They began exchanging photos and prayer requests and commenting on how the yard was being taken over by radical extremists.
But some engines grew disgruntled because what used to be a manageable short list of friends and postings, now became so busy and cluttered that it took valuable time to read through. And many found they had to post more often so as not to have their important posts lost in the myriad trifling posts carried back and forth.
FB huffed and puffed and added still more cars, trying to make his constituents happy, but even so many seemed dissatisfied. What at first had been fun and informative, now seemed disappointing. Before FB’s service, there was no expectation of relationship, but now all that access had created higher expectations of what those relationships could be. With higher expectations and higher volume of activity, came higher disappointment. Some even stopped using FB and started sending letters and emails or making phone calls. Some even started reading books with all the extra time they had.
FB grew concerned that his new purpose and his new income stream might dry up. What would this reduction in activity do to his late night TV interviews or his kids’ burgeoning college fund? He finally came to the conclusion that his clients were really not telling him they needed less information. What they needed was more–and faster! So he thought. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can launch Tweeter!
And so he did, and folks are still trying to figure out if they are living in a happily ever after.