I’m a bit of a Facebook (FB) junky. I’m single, I live alone, and I live far from many that I care about. With those factors in place, FB is a true gift to me. It gives me a place that I can keep in touch with those that I care about, though somewhat superficially, but who are often geographically distant. FB also helps to fill my need for feeling connected when I’m a little too hermit-y. This could probably be viewed as a bad thing as much as a good, because I sometimes (often?) use it as a substitute for “real” connection. And, of course, I scroll through it a little too often, and for a little too long… I try to be mindful of that and back off from it from time to time.
But there are certain examples that show the positive potential of FB. I’ve had a couple of those this week.
I posted about when I played football as a young, middle school gal. All of my blog posts go to Twitter and FB, and I tagged some of my old school chums in the FB post. That got a bit of a conversation going, and I received the below feedback and encouragement from my old school mates. Here’s an excerpt.
Curt (He is the one pictured in the blog post. We are FB friends, but don’t really keep in touch or keep in touch via othe rmeans.): “Christy you have been an inspiration to me ever since that hitting drill. That moment proved to the entire team that you had the heart, will and toughness to be a player. EVERYONE on that team became stronger physically as well as mentally because of your “never give up” attitude.
I didn’t know that that drill had such an impact on you that you still reflect on it today, nor did I realize that you almost broke down after. I almost want to apologize for overdoing it, but I am proud to have had you as a teammate, and I’m also proud of you for never losing that attitude towards life.”
My response: “That frickin’ hurt, Curt! And it wasn’t so much that I broke down after, but I was hurting enough that the tears started to form… Sometimes you just can’t help it. You guys did exactly what you were supposed to.
Thanks for the other feedback. Though it’s been so long, it really means a lot. Maybe I wasn’t as much of an outsider as I imagined myself to be…”
So, Facebook can get a bad rap for being a negative place. But I think just as often, FB is a positive place of support. It’s a place where people from your past can catch up with your present, and maybe even resolve some of those weird feelings about the past. I had the same sort of experience when my divorce was going on. Quite a few people I went to high school with reached out to me through FB messages to show their support and to offer advice about how they coped with their own divorces. These were people I largely did not keep in touch with. Yet them reaching out to me was still incredibly powerful and inspiring.
My second “FB is wonderful” example pertains to a different aspect of divorce. When I was, perhaps, 10-years-old, my uncle (my mother’s brother) and his wife divorced. I was really fond of my aunt, but as is often the case with a divorce, she didn’t stay in close contact with our family. I’d often thought about her over the years, but I wasn’t sure quite how I should contact her, or if she would even welcome it. Well, my uncle just put me back in contact with her through FB yesterday! There’s decades of time separating us, but I’m so glad to be back in contact with her even though it’s only through FB…
So there are a couple of my FB joys. Sure, people can spread negativity on FB. Or people can feel poorly about themselves, because they feel their lives are crappy in comparison to others on FB. If you ignore that, or just quit comparing yourself to your peers, FB can be a lovely place. It can be a tool to help connect past with present, near with far. I like that.
Dear Mr. Zuckerburg,
If you’d like to send me a check for writing this blog post in support of your social networking website, I would not turn it away. I am a graduate student, after all. I’ve got bills and student loans to pay off. I’d even like to write a book! Your sponsorship would be most appreciated…
(Hey, you never know! I thought I’d throw it out there… 😉 )