A few friends of mine (okay, probably more like a few acquaintances of mine) have recently made the decision to quit Facebook. That’s all fine and dandy, but their reasoning got me all defensive. One of said acquaintances even wrote a tongue-in-cheek newspaper editorial on why she finds Facebook to be less of a blessing and more of a curse. So, naturally, I got even more defensive…
Say what you will about Facebook, but I have never felt more in touch with people (friends, networks, contacts, old co-workers, and everything in between) than I have since joining. I agree that in-person interaction is always better, but for someone like me, the stark reality is that there is no way I can stay so personally up-to-date with that many people. Facebook makes it easier for me to stay involved, despite all our busy and dynamic lives that often cross borders and timezones.
It’s a great supplement to phone calls, emails, letters (as if anyone still writes letters, lol), and actual visits. Plus – I don’t know about you – but my phone calls rarely touch everything going on in a friend’s life, and certainly not in mine. They are more like overarching, general updates, because there’s only so much time either of us has to just shoot the breeze like we were neighbors again.
Facebook gives me windows into the little details that someone may forget to include in a phone conversation. While there is such a thing as oversharing on Facebook, I love reading about a friend’s (or even an appreciated acquaintance’s) thoughtful insights, funny quips, recent adventures, and random rants. Whether I’ve known the person for years, recently met them at a social gathering, or fell out of touch but still have fond memories of the person, I genuinely enjoy seeing what they are up to.
My editorial writer acquaintance explained that Facebook leads to jealousy, competitive comparisons, feelings of inadequacy, and drama. Okay, so maybe there are one or two individuals I’m connected with that make me feel a little jealous and inadequate, but overall, I love to watch people succeed. It can be motivating! Or maybe, it’s just fun to see the many different paths my friends have taken. I have learned a lot from many of my connections, and I love information sharing – articles, images, blogs… you name it. I love hearing opinions, because they help me hone and develop my own, and challenge me to consider alternate perspectives.
As for drama – well, we all know drama existed long before Facebook, and will continue to exist long after. That will just depend on the user. And even if I wasn’t on Facebook, I probably would still eventually find out that Jane Doe got her Ph.D from Harvard, a diamond way bigger than mine from Tiffany’s, and a 5-star vacation in Paris.
Anyway, for the occasional annoying/obligatorily-friended person that clogs my newsfeed, Facebook has made it much easier to control what I see with the “hide” and “block” features. It also continues to allow me to limit what I share and who I share it with, to protect my own privacy (and I have learned many such lessons on sharing in my 8-odd years on Facebook!) But I will always love virtually staying involved with friends, family, and contacts from near and far via Facebook. I will miss my acquaintances who are leaving – because they are two that I do actually love to follow and interact with from afar. One is an insightful young mother with a knack for making vegan diets look yummy, and the other is a budding political commentator with a killer sense of humor. I’ve learned something from both of them.
Maybe someday I will change my mind and find it creepy just like many of my peers, but for now, I will continue to involve myself in my little virtual Facebook community – because I know that unfortunately, without it, I would have lost touch with too many pretty awesome (or at least interesting!) people.