Since Mark Zuckerberg first introduce the world to Facebook in 2004, its phenomenal climb in the social media circle has caused me to pause and look at how I communicate with others.
I have been an avid Facebook follower for many years, though initially, I hesitated to join because of the controversy surrounding it. I succumbed to the pressure when my daughter, Caryn, posted pictures of my grandchildren on Facebook and invited me to view them.
Immediately, I had 5 friends, then 10, then 20. It wasn’t long before I hit the 100 mark, mostly because of old classmates, co-workers, and family members. A newly acquired friend was met with the question, “Are you on Facebook?”
I now have 242 friends on Facebook and I’m proud to say that I personally know 95 percent of them. The ones I don’t know have become my friend through knowing someone who knows someone who knows someone….well, you get the picture. Their cause to befriend me had an ulterior motive; one that has something to do with marketing. I didn’t mind. I would soon be using the same technique.
I have noticed that since I started using Facebook, that my way of looking at the whole act of communicating has changed. Cell phones, texting, and e-mails have certainly played a huge part in the “faster is better” concept that is sweeping the U.S., if not the world.
But Facebook is more than just a way to communicate. It’s also some people’s social outlet. Introverts, busy stay-at-home parents, and those who are physically incapable of leaving home have a link to the outside world. Some may argue that could be a bad thing, but really, what would these people do without it? Sit home and watch TV all day? Probably.
Facebook and computers in general have opened up a whole new world for people who don’t have access to a social life otherwise.
But there are two sides to everything. Facebook might cause those who really need to get out and join the world, to be reluctant to do so. For those kids who would rather be on the computer instead of spending time outdoors, Facebook could present a problem. And for that reason, like everything else, parents need to know what their kids are doing and monitor their computer time.
I like Facebook because I learn a lot, not just about my friends, but what’s going on in the world. I have a menagerie of friends with different interests; political, community-oriented, sports, music. They keep me up-to-date as to what is going is going on hat I may not be aware of. I learn about the death of celebrities, scores of athletic events, even reviews about movies, books, and videos. I also keep tabs on family members thousands of miles away.
Is it information overload? Some people have stated that maybe our age of technology is creating a society that is based on convenience and productivity, rather than using our brains to problem solve. While I understand their position, I also wonder how it can be avoided. When we started putting computers in the kindergarten rooms, what did we expect would happen? Did anyone think that through?
Communication is evolving, not changing. Is it more or less effective when we used the old-fashioned telephone or snail mail? I don’t think so. It still comes down to what it is we want to communicate. Now we just get it done faster. However, it does worry me that so many people are becoming impatient when they have to wait in line or get stuck in traffic…or their computer isn’t working properly.
Maybe we should think about the days when all we had was black and white TV with four channels, no video games, no cell phones, and no computers. Those were the days when we watched our parents sit on our porches waiting for a cool breeze while we played with the neighbor kids. We took the time to enjoy life. We could all use a little of that these days.