These seemingly completely unrelated giants have one fundamental thing in common. They both made and continue to make a fortune by capitalizing on the physical isolation in suburbia. The boredom and lack of actual social scene in our suburbs was an opportunity for Starbucks to move in and create some kind of venue for social engagement and interaction. In many places, Starbucks is still the only or the dominant venue for social congregation. As pathetic as it may sound, in many smaller towns, Starbucks is the only place you are going to see any sign of human life, besides malls and gas stations.
At the same time, Facebook allowed people who are stuck in their car all day to enjoy some kind of social life, as substandard as it might be. Instead of walking around and enjoying what they get to see and observe, they have to settle for walking around busy streets of life virtually, after they get off that boring freeway and don’t find much to look at on the depressing streets of their towns. Joining groups, posting, tagging, and commenting on photos, checking in, etc… are all surrogate ways of living actual life while sitting at home and not having much actual contact with anyone outside your family.
I am not hating on either Facebook or Starbucks. I admire their ability to see the void in our society and culture and capitalize on filling it the way they did and continue doing.