We all know the downfalls of Facebook. It is a total “time suck,” for sure. It does lower productivity, for sure. (I’m sure most of us have heard of at least one boss forbidding Facebook on company time.) It does prevent many of us from being out in the “real world” of nature, of face-to-face social interaction, of quality family time. For instance, how many of us know couples who are each on her or his own computer responding to each other on Facebook? I know at least three. Crazy! And yet, there are very real blessings to Facebook as well.
When we are separated from our friends or family – by distance or circumstances beyond our control, it is a beautiful way to keep in touch. I can simultaneously let all my friends know when I have reached the destination of a two thousand mile car trip, for instance. Or that I’m okay, the flooding or fires have blessedly not occurred in my immediate vicinity. Or that I have started a new job. Or that I’m feeling down.
When I was cooped up, feeling alone and isolated while taking care of my elder parents, having the opportunity to vent via Facebook or to lose myself in the postings of my friends was a blessing I cannot overestimate. It helped keep me sane. Even though I was ensconced in a home not necessarily of my choosing (without a car for a significant portion of the time,) I could still feel connected to my social network. When I needed it, I got tremendous support from oodles of friends from all over the country. And now, four years later, my network extends across the globe. I am so grateful for each friend.
Facebook can be cheap therapy (if you have quality friends like I do.) It can be cheap entertainment (dancing dog videos, funny cartoons, beautiful photos, games.) It can mean fewer minutes on the cell phone. (Thanks to chats and private messaging.)
When I am lonely or bored or tired, I love Facebook. Unlike TV, it can be interactive. Unlike a party, I can just turn it off when I get tired. I don’t have to dress up to visit my friends. In fact I don’t have to dress, period! I don’t have to put in my contacts or brush my teeth. I don’t have to use gas driving anywhere. I don’t have to find a babysitter or abandon my dogs (if I had kids or dogs.) It’s a wonderful way to visit without extending more effort than I have the energy for.
Also, I get to be friends with people I might have otherwise had to attend five hundred parties or workshops or networking lunches to meet in person. I love that I am friends with a very sweet woman in Australia, several people in Africa, a whole slew of people in my hometown whom I have yet to meet in person, and a few well-known people who lead workshops all around the world. (And yes, we actually do talk with one another. We are not simply another “friend” in the contest to see who can get the most “friends.”)
I love the private groups on Facebook. I love that via these groups I get to stay connected with what’s going on in my hometown (both my current and former one.) I can know what events are happening and who is moving or who was just in an accident and needs prayers, food, babysitting, support. This is the way I like the world to be. When we need one another, in a few seconds, the word can go out to hundreds of people. It’s the next best thing to telepathy.
Someday I may get too busy or maybe even too “evolved” to visit Facebook so much. But for now, I am profoundly grateful.