Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Facebook--more than social media

The term social media implies to me light gossip, catching up with the latest star news or maybe recipes or fashion trends. Occasionally you see posts on Facebook about how much one's FB friends have meant to them, but many people scorn the site and claim they are too busy doing important things to be bothered with trivia.
For me, I've decided that Facebook is not trivia. I first enrolled as a way to keep up with my grown children, though I soon found that one child's penchant for telling what time he went to the gym, what time he left, what he ate for lunch got a bit tiresome. I love him dearly and want to keep up with his life, but really? He doesn't do that any more.
Then I rationalized my Facebook participation as promotion for my books...and, yes, I think it works well for that. But I also think it does much more for me. I'd been thinking this for a while, but it was driven home to me this week by the kind expressions of concern when I posted that my oldest son was hospitalized (thanks folks, he got out at 10:30 last night and went to work today--talk about a hard head!). People on Facebook have come to mean a lot to me, and many of them are people I knew casually in other connections, but now I have a different bond with them.
There's the woman who was my colleague in publishing--we had a casual, passing acquaintance and met occasionally at meetings. Who knew she shared my love of dogs and, more recently, my passion for grandchildren? And there's another woman from my publishing days, younger with a young family, with whom I had only a joking telephone relationship. Now she has her own business and spends much of her time raising three apparently adorable, well-behaved children. I've seen a whole new side of her, and we have a different relationship.
And there's the Tea Party advocate I exchange messages with. Funny story: a friend from a previous existence told me I ought to friend this guy, gave me a couple of clues to appearance, and I did. Then the friend wrote and said, "I think you friended the wrong guy." He was right--this guy is at the far opposite political and religious spectrum from me. Somehow I felt obliged to show him that he had swallowed a bunch of baloney hook, line and sinker--and he wrote back to say he was amazed at how far apart our beliefs were but wasn't it nice we could exchange opinions in a free country. Now, really, who couldn't count somebody like that as a friend. Sometimes his friends get kind of contentious, but he remains sweet and civil...and so sincere in what he honestly believes. I count him as a friend--and I gained a new FB friend from his list, someone who also can't abide his views.
Sometimes FB is where I first learn major news--Wendy Davis' announcement she would run for governor, the end of the government shutdown, Joel Burns announcement tonight that he would not seek office as a state senator but stay in his city council position. Yes, you have to take a lot of Facebook with a grain of salt--or a big dose of research, but I find it informative, rewarding, and fun. No, I don't want to advertise, play games, or any of that. But I appreciate the fellowship. And like others, I spend way too much time on the site.

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