I am an unashamed social networker. I have heard all the horror stories just like you – and even know those who refuse to join something like facebook because of what they’ve heard.
A couple of weeks ago – my husband and I went to see the movie about the humble beginnings of Mark Zuckerberg and what has now become a multi-billion dollar company, facebook. It takes nothing short of a genius to create something like this and build and promote it to its HUGE success today. It’s really fascinating. I’m not so concerned with how Mark was portrayed in this movie – it may or may not be true and I’m sure he is NOT a big ‘people person’ – he may in fact be a jerk – but no one can argue that jerk or not – he is the youngest billionaire in the world.
I remember hearing about facebook about 5 years ago – but it seemed that even then you needed to belong to a University or at least be a student somewhere to join. None of my friends were on there. Myspace was the big deal then – and at first I resisted having my own page. I would look around on my daughters page and moniter like any good parent to make sure there weren’t any weird people talking to her. Then finally I gave in and created my own page – complete with music that I liked and pictures just where I wanted them. It was fun – and each day I was finding more and more people who I knew.
Facebook was always in the back of my mind though. I learned from one of my friends, from Australia, that facebook was the better way to connect with people and especially those overseas. She actually preferred it and urged me to try it. So about 4 years ago, I did. Not many of my friends were on 4 years ago – it was a little lonely being in my age group with a bunch of younger people – but I took a leap and just dove in. It was fun – and like Christmas everyday when someone new would ‘add’ me – or find me. The profile page looked quite a bit different in those days and it was fun adding little touches that made my page unique.
As the word spread about facebook to my age group – more and more people joined everyday – and what was once very sparse with people my age – is now impressively in the lead with numbers – I’m talking about those in the 35-55 age group. Go BABY BUSTERS AND BOOMERS!!
Here is my ‘2 cents’ about facebook:
1) It is a social network – created to communicate and find people. If you have a page – communicate and be social!
2) It is NOT evil or the antichrist – built to suck out your brains, your intellect and your time. If that is how you feel about talking to people online – you best not even email anybody.
3) It IS a tool designed for making it easier for people to connect, share pictures and information with people who you know from all over the world that otherwise it would be impossible to do. How many people do you still keep in touch with from 20 or 30 years ago that haven’t moved at least 3 times, changed their telephone number and email so many times you can’t track them anymore. Facebook allows you to find and stay in a person’s world and transcends moving addresses, telephone numbers and email accounts.
4) There are privacy settings for the paranoid and for people suffering from all forms of paranoia out there. I am being a little factitious – obviously none of us want our identity stolen (which I have had done – and it was NOT by information on facebook – but rather through credit card residuals). But information can be easily obtained – and most everyone can be accessed today – information and all through the internet. You just have to be cautious – like with anything else in your life – and use common sense. If someone wants your information – believe me. They can get it – I’m proof of that. We cannot live in fear – we just need to practice wisdom as with anything else.
5) For the ‘stalkers’ and people who do not want to ‘friend’ me – but want to look at my information – I’m not interested in you seeing my stuff – and I have employed the wonderful little ‘block’ application on my privacy settings. You’re either a friend and would be proud to be on my list – or you’re not. If there are people that you do NOT want seeing what you write about – to see pictures and things you do on facebook – then this is very handy and I must admit – I have had to use it. I figure if they are my friends – they will already be on my list and I will let them see anything I post – and if they want to be my friend – they will send me a request – but if they are not and have no intention of being so – then they don’t have any business seeing my page. Luckily I haven’t had to use the ‘block’ option often. But likely you may have cause to use this option – at least once or twice. There is also a wonderful little ‘X’ that you can click on – that allows you to ‘hide’ someone’s status updates and comments when they are rude or vulgar. Luckily I have only had to do this a few times. Remember – if you do this – the person will not know that you have done it. They do not get notified – much the same way if you have to delete a friend or even block someone – they are not notified. It is a safe way to keep your world more private.
6) Sometimes you have to do a little ‘house cleaning’ on your friend list. I had close to 1100 friends at one time. No one has that many friends. It’s crazy. And because people have their friend lists open to everyone – it did feel a little like my information was getting out to too many people whom I did not know. Therefore I went through my list and decided if I really knew that person and communicated with them – then they would stay. I would ask myself, – ‘Do they ever communicate with me? Even once in a while? Would they care or not care if they were in my ‘world’?’ And I started thinning it out a little. I got it down to under 700 and that is where it has remained for several months. I have left my name so that when doing a search for my name – it will come up – but everything else is very private. There is a good reason for this. And I know you have your reasons too. If you know me and want to be in ‘my world’ – then add me – otherwise I will not add you – if I don’t know you.
7) I have found people from days gone by that my husband and I knew 30 years ago and it has been a joy and a pleasure to welcome them and reconnect! This is one of the simple pleasures of facebook!
8) I love connecting with good friends each and every day – to know what they’re doing and they know what I’m doing too. It is the day and age of information exchange and this can be a very positive thing!
9) Don’t criticize what you don’t know anything about. I don’t know how many people I have tried to convince that facebook is NOT evil – but actually a great tool for communication – and those that refuse seem very critical and even negative – thinking that all we do all day is sit on the computer and waste time. Well – my computer is on all day but believe it or not I actually do have a life that is very busy and full. I teach 25 students a week and am preparing again to teach music to a theater class. I prepare lesson plans – listen to music – write on my blog – print out sheet music – practice the piano – prepare meals for my family – shop – socialize with my husband – etc. etc. etc….. Do I ignore my friends on facebook because I have so much else to do? NEVER. It is a choice. And it takes a moment to wish someone a good day – to give a word of encouragement and a smile. I am prompt at returning my emails and messages. Are people really saying they’re too busy to do this? We all know people that only check their email once a month – so FRUSTRATING!! I’m pretty busy and I still have time to answer my emails and messages and to communicate with my friends everyday. However – I do not show that I am online because for me – it is distracting to have someone break in and send me a message with online ‘chat’ – while I am working. But I never ignore a message and return everyone as soon as I can.
10) Limit yourself if you are not good at ‘time-management’. You only waste time that you allow to be wasted. I am not a time waster – so the idea of having to ‘take a break’ from talking or encouraging someone everyday seems crazy to me – but I hear about people doing this. Just can’t relate. I would never take a break from being a friend to someone. To me it’s unthinkable. And it gives facebook and those of us that love social networking a bad name.
And finally – if you see me online – say ‘hello’ – don’t just ‘quietly observe’ so I won’t know you’re online. I don’t know how many people have said to me, ‘I see you on facebook – you seem to be having so much fun – I don’t like to say anything, I just like to look” Make your presence known!! – Facebook is for connecting and being social. Stop by and let me know you’re there! I’m not too busy to have a quick word of encouragement or to see how you’re doing. No one should be too busy for that.
Have fun – brighten someone’s day today. You may be the only one who does!