Giving Thanks – Day 6: Facebook Friends…

So, you probably wouldn’t be reading this without Facebook.  It doesn’t matter if you are one of my family members or you are someone that I have never met – without Facebook, the cosmos would not have connected us here and now.  There’s a limit to human connection in “real life” but Facebook lets us avoid those boundaries and stay connected even when we can’t see each other in person.

I know the criticisms of social media – believe me, as a teacher, we hear about them all the time.  Too impersonal.  We don’t really communicate anymore. We just keep “friends” around to make us feel better about ourselves, even if they aren’t really friends.  Pick up the phone!  Write a good, old-fashioned e-mail!  BTW no 1 uses the -> words bc it takes 2 lng tho.  Go to a family reunion (it’s every July).  It has polarized the political realm even more than it used to be (I say this even as I read even more ridiculous tripe on Facebook today).  Make REAL connections.

To be sure, there is validity to each of these arguments.  Many of our FB relationships lack the depth that our real relationships have… but let’s be honest: we can’t have 500 best friends and keep in touch with the entire family tree.  When our friends move away, the relationship usually weakens given that we cannot tend it with the care it deserves.  Only so many family members can get together on Christmas and Thanksgiving, and family reunions require travel plans and cash money, which can be in short supply.  Old friends from high school?  See you in 2016 for our 20 year reunion (if we make it).

I don’t know about you, but I am so grateful for FB allowing me to keep these connections alive between face-to-face meetings.  Heck, some of you reading this I have never even met – you have been connected to me because someone else was connected to me through some form of social media.  I think that is absolutely wonderful.

Why?

Because it means we are a part of something bigger than our everyday lives.  When I am excited, I can share it, and you will get excited too.  When you have something bad happen, we can all commiserate and offer whatever support we can.  When our days are mundane, at least we can share that experience with others.

I know all the negatives, but I still love Facebook.  I’m glad that those of you I haven’t seen in months or years or decades or ever are a part of my life.  You might only “like” a picture of mine or make a “comment” here and there, or possibly only wish me a happy birthday, but your life intersects with mine.  You took the time to acknowledge me and my life – and I try to do the same with you.  And because of that tiny intersection, my life is just a bit better.

In the past year, my awareness of these connections increased dramatically as I began to share my stories.  Many of you have sent me messages or commented on how my stories resonate with you, or how you have your own similar stories.  A simple acceptance of a friend request has added laughter, tears, or moments of thought to my life and some of your lives.  My family – many of whom I have not seen since I went to the family reunion in 2006 – get a chance to interact with me and my family – its like the branches of the family tree have been drawn tightly together.  My high school buds – I mean, most of us haven’t seen each other in almost 20 years, and yet we can experience each other’s successes and failures together.  I think that is amazing.

So yes, I understand the criticisms of the Facebook.  I have even thought about giving it up a time or two.  But I am very thankful for it, mostly because it has allowed me to connect with you…

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