I love Facebook. I love looking at profile pictues, whether they are snapshots of a sleepy baby, or a wedding photo, or a picture of a new puppy, or a webcam shot of someone trying to look sexy. I love reading my friends' status updates, and I am particularly thrilled now that I have figured out how to block the Farmville/Mafia Wars crapitude from showing up on my news feed.
I sometimes sit for a happy half hour and search Facebook for everybody I've ever known, and it's like a jackpot when I find someone. I was very excited to reconnect with my third grade teacher. She was the first person who encouraged me to write, and she was one of the kindest teachers I had. She still remembered me, even though she moved away a year later and I haven't seen her since I was seven. I was happy to see that she is still a teacher, and has a big family up north.
I've found a lot of cousins and other miscellaneous relatives who are scattered around the south, and Facebook makes it so quick and easy to stay in touch, to see pics of their kids, or the amount of snow piling up in their yards.
I know some people are all hatery on Facebook because they think that this kind of fast, convenient, electronic communication replaces actual human interaction. I can only speak for myself, but I find that Facebook adds an extra level of communication that wasn't previously there. My cousins, for example, might send me a Christmas card once a year with a family photo or two, but I wouldn't be getting to see dozens of pictures of their home renovations, their new kitten, or their backyard barbecue with neighbors. I feel closer to them than I did before.
I am sure some would find this in bad taste, but when a co-worker in a different state recently became very ill, I knew what was going on right away because a family member logged into her Facebook account to post frequent updates from the hospital. When she passed away, Facebook became a quick way to communicate the funeral information, and I really appreciated it.
It's sad, but I am kind of glad that they haven't deleted her account. Even though we never met in person I used to speak to her frequently on the phone at work, and now when I occasionally see her name on my friend list, I take a moment to miss her, and remember her fondly.
I tell my mom about Facebook, who I've found recently and what people have been posting, and she's just fascinated by it. I'll print out photos that our relatives post and mail them to her, so she can see how much snow they're getting in our home town, look at photos from birthdays and events and such. For a minute there, I thought I might possibly be able to interest her in learning how to use a computer but... no. It would be so awesome to have my mom on Facebook, I can't even imagine. :(
I've also found a lot of people that I went to high school with. When I moved away from Virginia after I graduated from college, high school was a recent memory and since I was planning to return to Virginia eventually, it just didn't occur to me that I would be losing touch -- possibly permanently -- with some of my oldest friends. When I moved to Florida in the dark ages before cell phones and the internet, I couldn't afford many long-distance phone calls, so the one or two friends that I cared enough to actually sit down and physically write letters to became my only remaining contacts. Now all of a sudden two decades have somehow whizzed past me, and I realize I have completely lost touch with people who were very close to me at one time.
I've lost touch with a girl who was one of my best friends all through high school and college. I was very close with both her and her older sister. I have been Googling them periodically for years now, with no luck. I bitterly regret losing touch, and am just dying to know where they are now, and what their lives are like. But numerous searching has turned up nothing. Curse the unhelpful custom of women changing their names when they marry!
Then the first week of January the older sister showed up on my biannual Facebook search. Yay, right? Not so much. I sent a friend request with a little note saying how excited I was to have found her, and two weeks later she accepted my friend request. Two weeks! Apparently she is not an obsessive check-Facebook-at-least-once-a-day-and-more-often-if-possible person like I am. Imagine. Anyway, she accepted silently, no message or return note or post on my wall or anyting. So I sent her a message, expressing my delight at reconnecting, and asking how to get in touch with her sister. No answer. Weeks pass. I'm trying not to take this lack of glee at reconnection personally. Then I see that she has logged in once, she's posted stuff on other's walls, but no response to my message. I'm thinking that maybe she is not very Facebook savvy, a lot of perople are confused by the private message system; maybe she didn't even see it. So, I post a message on her wall telling her that I sent her a message to her Inbox, and I would love to get in touch with her sister. No response, another week goes by. Then yesterday I saw that she just changed her profile picture, but still no answer.
Geez! She is not answering me, her sister is not listed among her friends, she has no email address or phone number or physical address listed, so... Dammit. Plus, I am starting to feel slightly stalkery, frequently checking her wall for recent activity. I am going to post on her wall again, but I'm not sure what to say. Should I ask for an email address or phone number? If she's not internet savvy, she might be worried that it isn't safe to do that. I could post my email address or phone number on her wall, and ask her to contact me. Argh! So close, and yet so completely far.