Facebook and me

I read Facebook every morning and off and on throughout the day if I am at home. It is the equivalent for me of reading the morning newspaper. I can read the ‘real’ news from Al Jazeera or Wall Street Journal or CBC, among others. In fact, some of my Facebook friends are journalists (Mitch Potter, Scott Peterson, Hugh Pope, for example), so I get to read their pieces hot off the press. Many of my Facebook friends share interesting things they have found and some I share on. Like in the newspaper, I skip lots of junk.

We tend to live with others like us, a trend that is bemoaned by some, understandably. Thus my Facebook friends for the most part have similar thinking on many topics and in a variety of languages– Turkish, Italian, French, English. These may be people who share thoughts but they are also a motley crew from a variety of age groups and cultures. I am lucky in how rich even these surface friends are.

Some people sneer at the notion of Facebook friends, but I think it reflects how we relate to people in physical life. We have a lot of acquaintances and a few friends. We interact on Facebook more with our ‘real’ friends. We stop to look at their family or travel photos. With other friends or closer acquaintances we may share articles or videos or just skip what they have posted.

Related to that is the fact that now that I live in a small town, my Facebook friends here are mostly acquaintances and most of them know each other. Many of them have lived here all their lives or most of their lives. Living in other countries (except perhaps for the U.S.) is not a part of their consciousness or experience, just as living in one place all my life is not part of mine. They often share different things, from how they feel to local issues. I feel like I have two audiences for my posts, the local one and the global one. Some things I share to educate the local one and some I share to show my international friends where I am and what I am doing.

I like that we can share photos on Facebook. People can look at them or not. I remember the days of yawning through slide shows of someone’s trip to somewhere or having to sit down while the person showed me her photo album, complete with running commentary. That is fun to do sometimes, but on Facebook I can see the photos on my own time and comment if I am so moved.

Memory pages are a new feature that is kind of interesting. I look to see what I have posted in that past and truthfully it makes me a little homesick for my cafe. I have also observed that the comments we post are different now. In the past there may have been a comment on the weather or on how I felt, but it seems people don’t do that so much anymore. There are more comments on pieces we share and less on how we feel.

One of my enjoyments if not meditation is the games on Facebook They generally involve manipulating pieces to solve place puzzles. The bubble ones also involve aiming. They keep my logic skills honed is my current excuse. Sometimes I am right into the game but many times I am also ruminating on something else at the same time.

When I had my cafe, Facebook was an integral part of my advertising. I made my Molly’s Cafe page and group and I used those to invite people to events (poetry readings, music, dinners, for example). Then I could also share photos after the events.

I know a lot of people my age who eschew Facebook They are afraid it will harvest their personal information (possible, but really, how special is their personal data?) and they have heard bad things about it. I report to my ‘real’ friends in person what I have learned from the new on Facebook, but they are not tempted.

So yes, I like Facebook. I have some real friends and some FB friends on it that I may or may not interact with. Mostly it helps keep me in touch with the world far and near. It’s pretty amazing considering I am in the last generation that used only snail mail and phone calls to stay in touch.

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