Facebook is everywhere. From 10 year olds to grandmas, everyone is friending everyone. Unfortunately, the bullies have a new playground to trounce upon and the adulterers have easier access to fool around. Big Brother is tracking us even more efficiently. While this is true, sad, disturbing and in need of a voice - can't we also find the good in Facebook among all the bad and the ugly?
I think we can. Let's get real. How many of you have a Facebook account? That's what I thought. I know there are some of you arching your neck ready to say 'Oh I only have it because I like to check in with my kids." Mmmhmm. That may be true. And then there are the other Facebbookers, the voyeur-only types. Those of us that post pictures, but not too many. We hit 'like' occasionally, but resist posting comments. We kind of hide behind our screen, look around and judge the over-posters, but love peeking around their profiles. There are some of us that post pictures, comments, likes and follow 'public figures'. Some of us use Facebook as a way to market a business or cause. And some of us are the Facebookers that love to Facebook, and have no shame in using it in all its social networking glory. We invite mass amounts of friends to dinner, post about morning dental hygiene habits, have complete conversations about who knows what on each others walls....
So we're on Facebook. Why not embrace it? Why be ashamed? Let's enjoy it while we're there. See it for whatever it is (to you) and leave judgement out of the equation. So what if Friend 62 is going to another poetry reading. Who cares if Friend 129 is going to have a mole removed today. Shake your head and move on and get back to stalking your ex's pictures from his/her recent vacation to Italy. Admit it, you've done it - I know I have. And it's fun. Especially when an ex is balding....(OOOPs!)
I love when people post funny links from television shows and post comments about their perfect or hellion kids. My favorite? Snarky commentary about anything - who knew there was so much wit behind a screen. How else would I know that a grammar school friend is now a 51 time marathoner and Ironman? I love her daily motivational posts. And another high school friend is so politically active, I enjoy reading his commentary more than reading some of the Op Ed pieces in the Tribune.
Where else can you get questions answered about people you haven't seen in forever without actually picking up the phone or sending an email? It's all as safe and harmless as we make it.
I have reconnected with people I knew eons ago and have gotten to know them better through Facebook. I didn't even realize how much I'd missed them. How cool is that? According to Drew Barrymore (am I really quoting Drew Barrymore?) "If I haven't talked to you in 20 years, there's probably a reason." I agree with this to an extent. I do. And the people I don't want to talk to I don't. In some cases I've tried, but remembered why we parted ways the first time and decided to leave well enough alone.
But the people in our lives who just slip away because of life, location and distance? Why not enjoy their online company from time to time? I had one of the biggest, loudest belly laughs recently while Facebook chatting with a college classmate I always liked, but never really got to know. As one of my favorite Facebook friends we chuckle often about our kids, life and Prince. Not William, just Prince.
I also enjoy getting to know acquaintances better through Facebook. I get an inside peek at people I normally wouldn't have the opportuntiy to chat with walking around town. It makes the 'hello' at Jewel mean a little more. I had no idea my neighbor's favorite dog has his very own Facebook page. Cracks. Me. Up.
Don't get me wrong children of the 60s (and 70s, stinkers!) I prefer to talk with people live, see them in person and enjoy a glass of wine or two-together. Sometimes though, with middle age, children, spouses, responsibilities and a country dividing us, virtual friendships can be a nice pick me up.
It's a new world for my generation. One I have tentatively embraced and am glad I did.
For another take on one of the perils of Facebook, check out the wonderful Marjie Killeen's piece at Make It Better: 'The Dangers of Facebook Friending Your Old Flame.'