For those of us of a certain age, Facebook seems to bring about strong reactions. My brother refers to it as “drinking the Koolaid”. I think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Of course, I’m right and my brother is wrong, but that’s to be expected between siblings.
Actually, I’m sure both of us are a little off. Well, I know we’re “off”. But that’s another topic altogether.
I came across this link this evening which supports the use of Facebook among middle-aged people.
One of the benefits stated is that you can reconnect with those you’ve lost touch with and I can attest to this. One of the greatest joys I’ve had recently has been reconnecting with people I went to elementary, middle, and high school with. I was a particularly shy, unsure child, and it’s great to get to know these people again as a confident, outgoing adult. We recently spent two days commenting on a fourth grade class picture one of my classmates posted. It led to great stories about teachers and classmates from long ago!
Another benefit for those of us baby boomers who graduated from college and headed for adventures that took us away from home and family is that we now have a way to stay in touch with the family and friends we left behind. I have watched my great-nephew grow from baby to toddler to little man from 1500 miles away. And now I’m witnessing his beautiful baby sister transform from a newborn to a happy healthy baby girl. My daughters and I have regular conversations, both by phone and by Facebook, whether we’re in the same town or a thousand miles apart.
Facebook has also provided me with an amazing network of colleagues, some from work, some who are family, and some I’ve met through other family and colleagues. What a great support system to have! We share our experiences and I find myself relieved to hear others with the same stresses and triumphs as mine.
If God and I are on the same page, I plan to retire and travel extensively in an RV sometime in the next decade. This will take me away from my children and grandchildren for months at a time. I am counting on Facebook, or whatever social networking giant is in place at that time, to keep me in regular contact with my kids, my grandkids, and my local friends.
Like anything, Facebook has its downfalls. It can be a huge time suck. If you friend everyone who knows someone who knows you, you can end of with hundreds of “friends” who are total strangers. And if you aren’t diligent about your privacy settings, strangers will have access to information you never meant to share.
Having said that, TV is also a huge time waster, going to parties where you know one person just so you can say you mingled with lots of people is just as ridiculous, and people who leave their cars and doors unlocked, or fail to shred sensitive documents before putting them out in the trash provide dangerous access to themselves every day.
All in all, I think the benefits make Facebook worthwhile for those of us over 50, especially those of us who have moved a time or two. I keep in touch with people across the country. In fact, during our little Facebook elementary school reunion, I had a two-day long conversation with former classmates living in New York State, California, and Japan! Not bad for a service that is free to use for as many minutes or hours I’d like, twenty-four hours a day.