I recently had a purposefully muted discussion with some folks about the use of Facebook specifically, or more generally the internet for sharing information. The discussion made me pause to think why I find Facebook so enjoyable and who the other folks are who either love it or hate it.
I’ve never had a problem with others knowing my “business”…meaning what’s going on in my life, good and bad. I grew up in a culture where people didn’t discuss divorce or illness (especially the big C) or their family’s accomplishments or challenges. I think my mother hid the fact that Walker had Down Syndrome from her own mother…my GRANDMOTHER…as if it were something shameful. There were women’s gatherings back then where ladies would sit and sew or play bridge or work on church activities and exchange news, views, and helpful information, and somehow the grapevine worked perfectly well for their purposes.
After high school, I immersed myself in a new life, making new friends and regrettably, letting some old friendships escape me. There was always a core of close friends and relatives that I kept in a well worn address book, carefully…or sometimes not so carefully…recording each change of address or phone number. We exchanged Christmas cards and baby announcements and occasional letters and phone calls, but we were scattered. I’m a lot better organized now with an Excel sheet of those same friends. I'm more likely to send a get well card or take a meal to a friend who is ill if I find out about it and timely notice means that I've been able to attend a few funerals that I might not otherwise have been able to follow up on.
When I began to piddle with Facebook a little bit, it was partially in quest to locate some people I truly cared about once upon a time and determine how they were doing (actually whether they were still alive) and perhaps reunite with them. I had mixed luck with this venture. The people I was most interested in did eventually turn up in a search, and I have had delightful on line relationship with a few old friends, along with a cold dismissal by a few. That’s life and I'm totally at peace about it. I've offered prayers during cancer treatments and recuperations from surgery for people I haven't seen in over fifty years...because I care.
One of the arguments my discussion revealed was that the people I was talking with already had enough people in their lives and that if they hadn’t kept up with someone for a number of years…so what. I suspect that their attitudes might change with age and maturity. My empty nest means I have more time to be interested in a vast number of people. I am interested in hearing chit chat from friends and acquaintances. Instead of my old friend Katie reminding me of when it’s time to plant my daffodils or trim my shrubs or buy wrapping paper half price, there’s probably going to be someone on Facebook who mentions things like that and nudges me into action. There are people in all parts of the country who recommend books and movies that I might never have discovered. I see posts for people looking for a local handyman or wondering who else remembers business long gone, triggering happy memories along with a bittersweet nostalgia.
I love seeing that Ken has taken up art again and seeing his increasingly impressive work. I love knowing who is having a new grandchild, or who might need a prayer for someone they care about or themselves. I love seeing Jan’s trip to Europe or my daughters vacations in real time. I love getting a recipe from someone far away, along with a picture, tempting me cook something prettier or healthier. I especially love watching the babies grow into children…even those I may never meet. Heck, it’s fun and it’s FREE!
I will try to withhold judgment on the FB bashers if they will in turn just leave me be to check in on my friends from afar now and then and not label me a snoop for doing so.
P. S. Please feel free to leave comments on this page or send them directly to me. You might have to sign in, but I love hearing your opinions.