Thursday, July 9, 2009

Facebook...Friend or Foe?

I blame it on my friend Frandy. She approached me months ago wanting to play online Scrabble - on Facebook. Facebook? Isn't that for those young kids looking to hook up and posting drunk pictures of themselves? I'm waaaayyy too old for that social networking thing. I'm still trying to figure out texting lingo (lol, btw).

But I did it - if only just to prove I could kick her butt in online Scrabble. And what I've found in the six months or so that I've been "connected" is that Facebook is a whole world unto itself - it can be kind, and it can be cruel, and you need to approach as carefully as you do any relationship - with respect, discretion and a sense of humor.

I have a very eclectic "friends" list of about 130 people. Some are family members, some are friends, some are acquaintences or business associates. I probably only communicate directly with less than 1/4 of them, but who knows how many read what I post on a daily basis. I've added a few, I've deleted a few, I've blocked a few... and learned many a lesson along the way.

Perhaps the one thing that blows me away more than anything - and I've heard this from other people as well - is who you "find" on Facebook. Through a series of six degrees of separation, I've found a couple of childhood girlfriends, some high school chums, a college buddy or two and some former co-workers. These are people I may have NEVER spoken to again had it not been for this social medium. And I am discovering that in my case, these people have reminded me why they were my friends and brought me full circle.

See, I have a tendency to wear my heart on my sleeve, or in the case of Facebook, my heart on my status. So at this point, if you keep up with my status, you know what's going on in my life. Why should you care? You shouldn't, necessarily. But when I read someone else's status and find out things like, "My husband just got laid off from Cat" or "Does anyone know of a good roofing contractor?" or "My daughter just cut her hair...anyone want to meet for a drink?" I realize that we are all in this together, and we need each other so very much.

In that same vein, it's important to remember that you are in a social networking world. I've read comments directed toward me on other people's "walls" - not cool. I've read very strong political or religious references that could be taken the wrong way. Some may argue that it's their right, and I'm not going to dispute that. It's just not how I view this particular medium with such a diverse audience. Again - it's the six degrees of separation. Most of the people recently I have found - or have found me - have been via another Facebook member. It's a big, small world, and believe it or not, you can get a reputation in this virtual social club.

Facebook has been - overall - a positive experience for me. It's been an outlet for my frustrations, my humor, and my thoughts. It's connected me with people that I feel blessed to have in my "circle". It's allowed me to get to know old friends and new in a more intimate, almost etheral way. And with this whole six degrees of separation thing, I'm thinking it's only a matter of time before Kevin Bacon shows up on my friends list. Here's hopin'.

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