A friend of mine recently wrote a blog post about Facebook. She had a bad experience with the social networking site and decided to cancel her account, much to the surprise of her 354 "friends". I have been thinking about her post for a few days and decided to write my own.
It's kind of funny this is actually the person who invited me to join Facebook, more than a year ago. I thought the request was kind of strange, to be honest. Why would I want to do that?
Facebook is persistent. It doesn't give up, even when real people do. So, it sent me one of its automated friendship requests, and in a weak moment, I gave in and joined.
Since then, I developed a love-hate relationship with Facebook that now has just evolved into an acceptance of it as part of my life.
At first, I found Facebook annoying and yet, oddly addictive. Why would I want to know that a friend I haven't seen in 10 years is making a cup of coffee at this very moment? And why do people who barely speak to me in real life want to be my online friends? Do I really care what 80s TV mom they most resemble?
As the weeks went by, I started to gain more Facebook friends, as is inevitable. It seemed that some people were just trying to increase their "friend count" by asking me, someone who sold them Discovery Toys two years ago, to be their FB friend.
I became more comfortable rejecting friendship requests of people if I couldn't remember who they were, had never talked to them in real life, or simply didn't want to communicate with them.
But as my friendship count increased, I also was pleasantly surprised by a few things.
I was learning about exciting news. Friends from high school were getting married. And having babies. My nieces and nephews in their teens had really funny or encouraging things to say. Long-lost friends wanted to get together after years of not seeing each other.
I could view photos of people I hadn't seen in years. I enjoyed seeing photos and reading updates of friends who live in the same town as I do, but with whom I had lost touch.
I also realized that more and more people in my life were suffering serious hardships. Life-threatening diseases. Family members with terminal illnesses. Challenging pregnancies. I wouldn't have had access to frequent updates and prayer requests, if it weren't for Facebook.
I went through some tough days myself and was encouraged by the quick responses of my Facebook friends.
Of course, we all run into the danger of letting Facebook and other sources of social networking take over the real relationships with flesh-and-blood people we need in our lives. I will admit that this has always been a challenge for me, with or without Facebook.
I prefer written communication over talking on the phone. Even back in grade school, I loved to write notes and letters and send postcards. With or without social networking sites, I have to make a deliberate effort to communicate like a normal adult by picking up the phone. And I've learned to do so!
I have finally accepted Facebook as simply an extension of my regular relationships. I'm thankful that I have been able to get to know people better through this source of communication. I have been able to keep in touch with people almost daily, when normally I might only see them a few times a year.
When I see how the younger people in my life use it, it also makes me realize that this is how younger generations primarily communicate. If I don't join in, they will continue to do what they are going to do. I will be the one who will miss out on possibly improving my relationship with them.
I think Facebook and I have sort of reached an agreement with each other. I rarely, if ever, take a Facebook quiz, and I don't play any of the games, only because I'm sure I would quickly become an addict! I also have my boundaries about who I will "friend".
On the other hand, Facebook often makes me laugh, cry or smile. If someone is driving me crazy, I can choose to "hide" them, and I'm sure many people have hidden me. Facebook and I are getting along pretty well these days.
What do you think? Have you purposely avoided Facebook and other types of social networking? Are you an addict? Or a reluctant user? I would love to hear your thoughts.
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