Saturday, February 11, 2012

My name is Deborah and I'm an addict.....

I'm a Facebook junkie. Who would have thought, especially for someone who isn't 20 any more? I get up in the morning, turn on my computer on the way to the coffee pot and then spend the next 30 minutes catching up with all my "friends" and their lives. At least as much of their lives as they want hundreds (thousands?) of people to know. I usually post a status update about the day ahead of me or the one just passed, and then sit back and wait for comments to my post. Or their requests for a reputable auto mechanic or plumber. Or they pass along inspirational or motivational quotes. Some great photos or unusual music. And on it goes, like an unending coffee shop conversation. Where the whole coffee shop gets involved.

It's easy to send the Facebook page up into the minimized folder as I sit down at my office desk. Every once in a while I sneak a look to see who else has signed on and what they have to add to the conversation. And heaven forbid a political topic comes up, because everyone starts weighing in with their two cents and away we go. 

I realize I'm a bit out of the norm here. My age alone, at least in the studies done about social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace (is that even still around??), indicate that most of my peers are not joining me here in these cyberspace neighborhoods. I won't bore you with statistics; let's just say that I'm closer to social security than most of you. Take my word for it.

But I have found a community on Facebook that defies what most people believe about it and similar sites. Mainstream media routinely trumpets headlines about the lack of social and relationship skills young people will have due to texting, emailing, and Facebooking. It is kind of creepy to watch a group of 20-somethings sitting together in a bar and see them all texting. To whom? (Hopefully not each other. Then we really do have  a problem.) The art of conversation might actually be taking a hit here. I'll leave that to the social scientists, though.

Yet, I have found that my network of acquaintances has actually grown and been strengthened as I follow up on former classmates (notice I didn't say "OLD"?) from high school or college, one leading to another and then another. My college roommate was friends with my first husband on Facebook, which put me back in touch with him, too. I didn't even recognize his photo. Don't know what that means, but it was a shock, anyway.

Then someone suggests someone else who has common interests and maybe some valuable contacts in the world of those interests. I have also reconnected with friends I used to work with and then we continue to stay in touch. Sometimes Facebook "friends" become real friends. I have several that I didn't know other than through my computer screen and then we got together in person, thus widening our circle in very real ways. I have some whom I have never met in person, yet feel very close to, even though that sounds kind of creepy. We share a passion for something, in my case it is usually other writers or creative types, and we commiserate, critique, and commemorate each others' work. Over time, I will probably meet some of these people in person, too. And who knows who THEY know? Networking at its best.

No, I don't own a piece of Facebook, although that will soon be a possibility. All I know is that is has widened and strengthened my own community and has added an interesting dimension of camaraderie to my life. 

Even if I am old.

The thing that we are trying to do at Facebook, is just help people connect and communicate more efficiently. Mark Zuckerberg

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