I realize that there are a lot of people out there who feel as though the popularity of Facebook & other networking sites is more evidence of the degeneration of our culture. I also realize that by endorsing them in this manner I am also revealing personal weaknesses in my social makeup but...I shall proceed.
I must say that since I joined the world of online social interaction via Facebook & Blogger I have noted several things about the nature of relationships (particularly in regards to how they are influenced in these online spheres.) As an introvert I do not have much of a social life in the so-called 'real world.' I have a few close friends scattered across the country side; I have my extended family; my church family; a few casual acquaintances and that's about it. I certainly am not one to go out of my way to socialize. I am pretty content most of the time to stay at home with my kids & my husband. College was the social era of my life and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Because despite my anti-social tendencies I really do enjoy people. I like learning about them, observing similarities & differences, hearing about their varied experiences, etc. College was filled with opportunities to experience people & make friends without the initiative & effort I find is needed now.
I joined Facebook over a year & a half ago mainly to keep up with my college-age sister. But as time went on and Facebook's popularity began to grow among college grads & others in my age group I began to quickly re-connect with many of the people with whom I had once been acquainted. Many were good friends in college or at least they were people with whom I had spent a significant portion of my 5 years at the State college; many were people I was very familiar with but did not know well; and several were people I hardly knew at all but do, in fact, remember.
There are plenty of articles out there mocking how via Facebook we can find out in real time that our neighbor's son's dog was recently fixed and that our old college roommate has been throwing up lasagna all night but I gotta admit that that although I do find plenty of things to hate about Facebook, this is not one of them. I enjoy how I get a sense of other people's everyday lives in a few moments every morning during one of my daily 'Facebook' checks. I love how I get to meet the children of former classmates by viewing their photo albums. And not only that but I get to congratulate people on their engagements, weddings, births & other life achievements that I would never had the chance to meet again in the course of our diverging lives. My online social life has allowed me friendships that I could not have otherwise had. Perhaps one cannot allow these friendships the same status that one would a face-to-face friendship but I testify that I feel much closer to some of my 'online friends' then I do to the people with whom I spend time face-to-face.
I have one friend in particular I feel is worth mentioning in this context. I met her during my college days...she was a friend of a friend. I never really knew her. I only spent time with her on a couple of occasions due to our mutual friend. She & I friended each other on Facebook & then when I joined Blogger I began reading her blog, Tres Blessed, as well. Through these two mediums (particularly Blogger) we began to interact and discover many commonalities. I barely know her. I haven't spoken to her in person since we graduated from college but I have a deep respect for her and feel as though we have become friends. I am one of the first people to read her new blog posts and she is usually the first person to read mine. And while I do feel somewhat sad that we didn't get a chance to be friends when we could have spent time together in college, I am grateful that online networking has allowed us the relationship we have now.
While admittedly there are some down sides and some risks involved in online networking--I must say with conviction that I feel my life is more complete and my interactions & friendships more diverse & fulfilling thanks to Facebook & Blogger.