In my latest blog, I shared my experience with the social networking site Twitter. I wasn’t using Twitter long, and was really enjoying connecting with family and some friends from my groups when I pointed out what I liked about using Twitter to my oldest son Joe. He let me know that it looked like Twitter was a simplified version of Facebook. “Facebook? What is Facebook? Isn’t it a lot like My Space? Isn’t it another one of those online hang outs for kids, but more so college kids?” I had had friends that had invited me to join, and people from my list serve groups were joining and writing about how great it was. There were even people on Blog Talk Radio shows talking about connecting to their group or fan pages. I had been unsure. My son told me I needed to check it out myself. I directly got on it and signed up for an account, invited a few people, and soon found my sister and a few of my cousins. It wasn’t long and I found a few more friends and family and I was hooked.
Is it addictive? No more so than Twitter. I guess that is my elusive way of saying, YES, it can be, and big time. Facebook is a social networking website, and reportedly growing at this point by about a half a million new profiles opening up each day. The group that is growing fastest is the over 30 crowd. Since I have joined Facebook, I have heard it referenced over and over again in the media. It has been the topic of discussion with family and friends. My class and I were watching the Channel One news program shown at school, and it was covering a story about high school kids giving up Facebook for lent. Of course many of the kids in my class have to be very close to their cell phones as they like to send texts before they can even get out of the school building at the end of the day. But even they are buzzing about their parents, and even a few of them, having Facebook accounts.
So what do I like about Facebook? I love having the ability to connect with friends and family. I can see what is going on in their lives and share what is going on in mine. I send out updates by answering the question, “What are you doing?” and now the recent question, “What’s on your mind?” All of my friends should be able to see my update, and will have the opportunity to comment as well. I can send people I have connected to, known as my friends, messages only they can see to their inboxes, or write on their “wall”, and then they, or anyone else that sees their wall, can see my message. I can comment on my friends’ updates, and comments can continue for as long as there is an interest. My friends and family can keep track of me in real time, or just check in for updates from time to time. I can join and support a cause with a real life impact, find friends from past or present schools, jobs or other groups in which I have been a part. There are groups and (fan) pages that allow people with similar interests to find each other and to connect through wall posts or discussion groups on the pages.
I like the many applications that can be used. The types of applications are really diverse. There are quizzes that are fun to take and tell you things like what your theme song is. There are a wide variety of games and simulations that you can challenge your friends and others on Facebook to play. I have tried out an application that allows me to identify my relatives that are on my friends list, and how I am related to them. There are more practical applications, like ones that let my tweets on Twitter update my Facebook as well. Send someone a drink, or a hug, or chocolates…all virtually, and all in fun. Well then it is also possible to have someone throw a snowball or shoe at me, or me at them. Good thing it is a virtual throw, and that it’s my “friend” sending it my way, or receiving it with a smile.
I am now feeling a bit of angst. While I love the Facebook that I signed up for those many weeks ago, Facebook has changed the format of the site (again, so I hear) and now everything seems to be a jumbled mess instead of the simple set up I started using. And when I used to have no problem finding my applications that are not actually a part of Facebook, I find that with the “new” format it is not easy to find them. I’m sure that I don’t like it at all, but with my Blackberry application on my phone( I loaded mine the day before the new Facebook came out) I still get the organization of the January through mid-March Facebook format that I am used to using. That does make me happy. Within the entire jumble of information, I am still staying connected to my friends, looking at pictures and reading updates and enjoying the many groups I have chosen to be a part of and applications that I have decided to use.
If you haven’t signed up for Facebook yet, I challenge you to give it a try. Find a few friends or family members to be your friends, or find your whole crew from your past and present. If you can’t find someone on the Facebook people search, you can send them an invitation through e-mail to join you on Facebook. Spend some time getting the hang of sending updates out, and try out new things as you feel you are ready.