Even though my job is in educational technology, I have been slow to adopt Facebook. Last year I finally set up a page because I was doing a workshop on social media and felt I needed to have a page to be mildly competent. I limited my “friends” to my nieces, nephews and son. I checked it once every couple weeks. I just didn’t “get it”. My thoughts about Facebook mirror what people often say about Twitter: I don’t want to know what you had for lunch or what your “status” is. (An erroneous characterization of Twitter, by the way. I'm an enthusiastic Twitter user and stay up to date with my work colleagues and network through Twitter all the time.)
Gradually, though, I have seen that for a lot of folks Facebook is their “home on the net”. It’s their personal web page and it allows them not only to communicate with friends and family, but to be creative—post pictures and videos, for example. It is a place to share something of themselves. I have a blog if I want to write something to the world. Others use their Facebook page for that. I am in favor of anything that increases people’s ability to be creative, so I started seeing the value of Facebook.
I didn’t get the real power of Facebook until recently, though. My eighty-something mother-in-law asked my husband to set up a Facebook page for her so that she could communicate with her grand children and children. In helping with the process I “friended” my mother-in-law. Within a day or so… in some cases within minutes… I had invitations to be friends with that whole side of my family. I made the leap and said yes, to broadening my friend-base. Within hours of becoming friends with them, my son had reconnected, through me, to his cousins on the other side of the family. That I count as a real benefit.
I’m still negotiating how much I want to get into the Facebook culture. I’ll probably never run to update my status with every little life occurrence but I can check every few days for family news and stay in touch, add the odd thought or question. I find it’s not so much about faces as it is about hearts.