Initially I was asked to join Facebook for networking purposes by some professionals that I had some affiliation with in California. I joined. My account sat dry and unmoving. I didn't get it at all.
Then, SpringfieldMoms.org asked all the advisory board members to join for networking purposes and as an alternative way to get the word about this excellent resource.
Not only did the Spfld Moms hit the ground running, networking on semi-professional ground, but given who we were-- many mothers with a variety of children and situations-- we had lots to touch base and connect about. And so a sweet little carousel of support has taken root.
My initial thoughts about Facebook were: how trite. It is a mere facsimile of attempting to have a relationship with no depth, no reciprocity and no genuine interaction. HMPH!
What I didn't realize was that just as face to face relationships have their own developmental progression, which cannot be rushed: so goes Facebook, your relationship with Facebook itself and your "friends" themselves.
As one friend put it succinctly, "As busy as I am, working full time and having three children and a partner with not much time to socialize-- it is nice to at least have a sense that I am connecting with other adults; even when the connection is superficial."
But now after several months of Facebook I have seen the support that comes from others to their friends when there are joys or concerns. I've witnessed the outpouring of support when people have a death in the family or a birth or had to put a beloved pet down. When someone is injured, having a bad day, dealing with a bout of seasonal affective disorder (you know who you are) and needing a rousing round of "let's pretend we are planning our trip to the tropics while it is subzero outside." Yes, people network, tell jokes and commiserate freely and there is something refreshing about it to me.
I know there are concerns that these next generations will lack an ability to have and sustain genuine relationships and let's face it: that takes work even with optimal ability and willing face to face participants. But in lieu of not feeling 100% at peace with this plugged in sense of community that is among us (we text, IM, email, facebook, myspace, blog . . .) does that mean we think we can really accomplish anything by sitting it out and saying, "HMPH. Not doing that new-fangled stuff. ?"
IMHO (in my humble opinion, spelled out for non-techies) that would be cutting off our relationships to spite our lack of communication. I prefer to embrace the trends, get to know and connect with people in whatever way our current societal climate supports and try, TRY, to bring something positive to the endeavor.
In the mean time, I do have a crazy-busy life and a set of circumstances that does not lend itself to being on many people's short list for spontaneous invitations or the means of holding down the fort to socialize very routinely.
I am a people-person and, honestly, I never would have thought I would have said this based on my first interaction with Facebook-- but I do feel it serves a pleasant connecting purpose in these frequently isolating times.
My verdict: Facebook may live.