All the recent uproar about Facebook’s latest changes reminded me of a piece I wrote for The (Stamford) Advocate and Greenwich Time back in 2008, when I was the features editor there. Back then, I had – finally, grudgingly — given in to using Facebook (sometimes at my desk at work, :-) ), and found myself entranced.
These days, while I’m not quite so effusive about it, I can’t imagine a day without a chance to check in with my many friends. Only Facebook lets me see what’s up with elementary school chums, Pace University friends and professors, Jazzercise of Southwestern Connecticut buddies, extended family and the many wonderful people I’ve gotten to meet throughout my adoption search — all in one fell sweep.
I marvel that my friend list includes a nun, a woman who once posed nude in a men’s magazine and just about every type of person in between.
Yes, keeping up with the changes Mark Zuckerberg‘s team keeps throwing at me can be frustrating, but I find at my age, change keeps me sharp. Plus, I don’t know about you, but I have too many really important concerns to focus time and energy on. I can’t waste precious moments going on and on about the newsfeed or the bigger pictures or the schizophrenic new layout.
Here’s what I wrote about FB back in 2008. I think it holds up pretty well:
It’ s no secret that friendships are the glue of life. The connections that hold us together in good times and bad. I’m reminded of the importance of these relationships daily, now that I’ve caved in and joined the Facebook revolution.
As with so many things in my life, I am late to this party, but friends putting together our 25th high school reunion prodded me to sign on to the Internet social networking site so I could keep track of the plans.
I did so reluctantly, figuring I already had enough to do. Turns out, I didn’t.
My husband, Basil, pokes fun at the amount of time I spend online now, but the truth is, I’m getting a lot out of the experience. Friends from various facets of my life are all in one place and I can keep up with them just by clicking my computer mouse.
Since opening an account about a month ago, I have reconnected with friends from high school and college, been found by an old boyfriend and discovered that one of my high school peers is now related to me through marriage.
What fun it is to check out everyone’ s family photos, learn about their interests and see what my grade-school friends are doing now that they’re grown up (more often than not, their career paths are exactly what I imagined).
Individually and in groups, we’ve been reminiscing about old times, and just about every exchange involves loads of laughter.
One of our schoolmates ignited a raucous series of discussions by posting photos from our days at King Street Elementary School in Port Chester, N.Y. Needless to say, the ’70s were not the most fashionable times, as our photo day outfits – with their stripes and paisley prints – readily attest. Still, it brings a smile to my face to see us frozen in time, free of the many responsibilities we now shoulder.
My Facebook experience is not unique. Online and in person, I’m finding increasing numbers of people who use the site to connect with people they might not bother to telephone, or keep track of in their social calendars. Interestingly, the age range of people using the site is from teens to sixtysomethings. Who knew?
Most fascinating is that in spite of all the technology that allows us to “see” and “talk” to each other, the experience comes down to the simplest thing: People crave and thrive on human interaction.
In the past couple of weeks – afraid my family might find me alone at the computer for hours in my bathrobe – I arranged to meet up with a couple of old friends.
In one case, we had dinner and talked for several hours about where life has taken us. It was an easy, pleasant conversation, and I felt as though we picked it up from the previous day, not two decades before. In the case of the second friend, we met for a cup of coffee and spent time doing the same.
Amid the fun and games taking place online (virtual snowball fight, anyone?), several of us have commented on how much we’re enjoying the chance to be in touch again.
Midlife crisis jokes aside, I’ve been trying to sort out why it means so much to us all. Especially important, it seems, are the ties among my elementary school friends. In pointing this out to my friend, John Pontillo, I noted that we probably all know each other as well as our families do since we met in kindergarten and first grade.
Pontillo summed the experience up perfectly, saying: “We’re all brothers and sisters.”
He’ s right, isn’t he?