Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Power of Facebook to Reconnect

Oh, Facebook. It never ceases to amaze me. Some people love it, some hate it, but everyone agrees that the concept behind it is nothing short of genius. Back when Facebook was founded in 2004, I was still a senior in high school, and when Facebook began to take over the world later that year, I was starting my college years at QU. So, in a weird way, Facebook has grown as matured as I have. Back in the day (hey, in Internet years, it's been a long time!) you could only join Facebook if you had a college e-mail address. Then they expanded to high school, and eventually offered company networks and the "no network" option. Over the past 5 years, Facebook has endured a litany of criticism on various issues (especially the infamous news feed), but it has continued to suceed, expand and prosper.

Okay, I bet you're wondering why I'm giving a Facebook history lesson here, so I'll get to my point. The reason I love Facebook is for what it was originally created to do: connect people. As someone who has always had friends all over the country, FB has allowed me to keep tabs on the people I care about. "Facebook stalking," creepy though it may sound, is actually a very useful way to stay up to date on your friends lives. Let me make it clear that I don't believe Facebook (or any other social networking site or application) should replace real person-to-person contact, or the phone for that matter, but I don't agree with those who say social sites prevent young people from learning how to communicate. It's just a different way of communicating.

Just recently, an old friend who I hadn't spoken to in a long time wrote on my wall to say she's been thinking of me and hopes I'm doing well. It made me smile, and I'm glad she had a way to send me this message. A few weeks ago, I became Facebook friends with a girl, now young woman, who I used to babysit for when she was younger. I'd been wondering for a long time how she was doing, and when I found out she is now a college freshman, I thought I'd try to connect through Facebook. (Once I got over the shock, of course.) I can leave messages whenever I want, even for friends in different time zones, I can play a game of Scrabble with someone across the country or across the world, and I can get a life update on hundreds of friends in a matter of minutes. At CPX, we're using Facebook as another way to get our name out there with a fan page.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think that Facebook is without faults, and some of the changes haven't been for the good, in my opinion. For example, I'm not so keen on the idea of my parents getting an account, fortunately they're not either at this point. But, I will always be grateful for the invaluable opportunity to reconnect. So, the next time you're annoyed at FB for some reason, think about all the people you wouldn't be in touch with otherwise. Everyone has a story.

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