Sunday, August 17, 2008

Have you discovered Facebook yet?

I am concerned that my August newsletter for my website won't come out timely this month. I could tell you its because I have been crazy busy getting ready for Allie's birthday party at the beginning of the month, or getting ready for the start of school last week or working on my blogs and websites and still trying to figure out what in the world Twitter is all about. Or maybe I can tell you its because I am co Vice-President of Social at Allie's school and the PTA has just sucked the lift out of me at the beginning of school. But none of those reasons alone would really be true - instead I have one thing and one thing alone to blame it on. . .FACEBOOK.

I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. It has come the biggest time suck of my day lately. But yet, I keep going back for more.

In case you are one of the rare people who don't really know what Facebook is (I can say that because I was one of those people just 2 months ago!), it is a useful on-line vehicle for millions of people worldwide seeking to network with like-minded individuals and to see if they can "find" former classmates, neighbors, friends and even old flames.

In the last month, I have reconnected with at least 50 friends from grade school, high school, my teen youth group, my childhood camp that I went to for 16 summers, long-lost friends from college and buddies from law school. Some of these friends I have not seen in over 20 years when I was last their camp counselor and they were going into 10th grade and I was a big college kid. Now most of us are married with kids - some have even been divorced and some have remarried.

I love reading about every one's life and what they are up to. I love looking at all my "friends'" pictures. Its absolutely amazing that other than some hairstyle changes and perhaps a wrinkle or two, I could recognize most of them in a dark alley. Even more so, I love the connection with my past. I love the fact that some of my camp friends have little girls Allie's age and we are all hoping to send our kids to camp together in the next few years.

I love and treasure my friends that I have now more than life, but as one pointed out when I sent her a picture of me as a camp counselor from 1988, she had no clue beyond the basics about my life before we met in 2000. Now, this same friend told me she had no interest in Facebook and reconnecting with people that she wouldn't do more than trade an email with every now and as she barely has time to keep up with her local friends. I respect where she is coming from , but I don't get it.

Reconnecting with my past has been good for my soul. It has reminded me of amazing summers I spent at my most favorite place on earth (summer camp in Malibu, CA), a fabulous 4 years in college and a challenging but very likeable law school experience. These people are people who knew me before I hit puberty, were with me when I had my first boyfriend and my first broken heart, the people I experienced "stuff" with, pulled all-nighters with, drove cross country with, spent Spring Break with, went through Greek Rush with and attended many formal and semi-formals with. First crushes, first boyfriends as a little girl and then first boyfriends as a college girl.

After you reconnect, you don't have to work hard keep the connection alive. You can write a simple message on some one's "wall" that everyone will see, you can send a quick/long private message, you can update your status to let everyone who reads your profile know what you are doing RIGHT NOW, or you can challenge your friend(s) to a word game and perhaps see whose college loan was better spent!

What I have realized is that as the years go by, everyone moves and/or moves on, our immediate circle of friends grows and evolves, circumstances change - all making it more difficult to maintain contact with the wonderful people with whom we've shared fond memories. Just because the logistics of your friendships change doesn't mean you have to lose touch completely. Modern technology such as Facebook is making it easier than ever to reconnect with old friends.

My close friends that I see and/or speak to everyday (or most days) are unquestionably my "family" that I have chosen to surround myself with and as I am now I mommy and wife, I have connections with them that I could never duplicate and I would miss dreadfully if I no longer had them. But it has been really nice lately to know that there is nothing quite like reconnecting with someone from your past - its like a dormant warm fuzzie that has come to life.

Am I going to start emailing and calling everyone that I have reconnected with? I'm pretty sure that won't happen with most. Will we continue to stay in contact and update each other - hopefully yes, and thankfully, Facebook sure makes it easier to do that.

And while I was certainly never popular in high school (if only I had been content being myself instead of striving to belong to that proverbial "in" crowd), I look now and see all these fabulous connections from my past and realize now what I should have known then - I had some really amazing friends in my life and I was a pretty lucky kid to know them!

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Hopeful said...

I agree there is nothing quite like reconnecting with your past. Without coming to terms with one's past, there is a hole in one's heart that never gets filled no many how much we try. Good luck on your journey.


Heather said...

The addiction to Facebook will wear off eventually. I used to be one to log in multiple time per HOUR, but now I check it once a day, if even.

One thing I've learned in reconnecting with folks via Facebook is that the Facebook relationship tends to echo the real relationship. It's sort of like high school on a global scale. For instance, one of my best high school friends tended to be a little narcissistic and put very little effort into our friendship. When I hooked up with her on Facebook, I again found myself in the role of being the giver with getting almost nothing from her. It didn't take me long to drop her from my list of friends. Some relationships just aren't worth resuscitating.

Suzanne said...

Meryl ~ I really enjoyed this post about Facebook! I'm on there but haven't spent much time yet understanding it or looking for anyone I know ... but this has inspired me! I will use it for business and hopefully reconnect with some friends from my past too. I'll let you know how it turns out ;) *SmiLes* Suzanne

Kelly D said...

Sometimes I get lost in Facebook and some of the other technologies. It is fun to connect with people and to share my story or share photos. But has Heather said, the online relationships do tend to mirror the "real" relationship. I'm not so interested in reconnecting with the past, although sometimes that is fun, I'm more interested in connecting with people who share my same interests today.

Tiffany Aller said...

Beware of Facebook! It's a black can go intending to just "check in" and find yourself waking from a stupor after spending 4 hours there....yikes! :-)

JenniBeanV said...

I have had similar experiences with Facebook! It's wonderful, isn't it? Great post!

My Vision said...

Reconnecting with friends is a lot of fun. Great you are able to experience this with Facebook. I havent' gotten into that much yet. Will have to check it out a bit.