By Cindy Rott
You hear your grandkids talk about it. Even some of your friends are doing it. So what’s the big deal? Why bother? E-mail is good enough, heck in my day you put a pen to paper. Well it’s the latest phenomenon, sweeping the country, everyone is on it, even, gasp older people. Should you stop resisting and join? Definitely yes!
What are we talking about? Facebook is a social networking site on the Internet. It allows people to post messages to their friends, and then other friends can see the postings and also post messages, creating a “conversation” over time. Some people are always signed onto facebook, while others just occasionally check in to see what is happening with their friends.
Facebook is different from anything you’ve done before. Started in 2004 by a Harvard student — originally just for students to use to network — it is now all the rage, even for those over 50! Facebook makes it so easy to reach out to past and present acquaintances. You can check out former classmates, see your grandkids’ lacrosse photos, post a quick message to Aunt Suzy in Idaho or just contact one of your neighbors down the street.
Facebook has become the biggest of the social networking sites, thousands of new users join each week. It facilitates communication with people you already know; this is not picking up strangers on the Internet. Best of all, Facebook has great privacy options, allowing you to limit (or not) what other people see. Most people do limit access to their home page to just friends that they have “accepted.”
If someone wants to get in touch with you, Facebook will send you a message that says, “John Smith wants to be your friend.” Often your friend will include a personal message such as, “Can’t believe it’s been 30 years since graduation, how’ve you been?” On your screen two buttons will appear and you can “accept” or “ignore.” If you can’t remember John Smith, or you hate him, you can just click on ignore, but if you want to see his page you have to click on accept.
Facebook is really easy to use, it’s fun and makes keeping in touch a snap. Best of all, an advanced degree in computer programming is not needed.
Joining is easy. Go to www.Facebook.com and enter your name and answer a couple of profile questions. (Only answer the ones you want to share with your friends.). The more you answer about things like schools you attended, the more easily old friends can find you. Next, upload a photo or graphic. The cool thing about the photo is that it’s your choice.…Who says we’re old, when your photo is from the 80’s, or a pic of you on your sailboat taken from far away…Or you’ve photoshopped off the extra 20 pounds on your middle.
You will be astounded how quickly your friends will find you and ask for an update. Facebook will also suggest friends based on common groups and interests to see if you know them. And it will even suggest you become Facebook friends with your friends’ friends. Facebook will help you reach out to old classmates, as well as the people in your current e-mail address book. You will be surprised how many people from your youth will ask to reconnect. And with a couple lines written on their “wall,” you’ll be in touch in no time.
Once you’re friends with someone you can check out their interests, their photo albums and what they’re up to. Every time you sign in to Facebook, it asks what you’re doing now. Those who answer this option give a glimpse of their daily life to their friends. People answer with all kinds of crazy things.
Facebook has space for picture albums and even video clips. This is the perfect solution to spread-out families, as pictures can be posted immediately for others to view. Posting short notes can save you from a phone call, but still keep you in touch. Let everyone know what you are up to instantly. How much you post is up to you. Some people have accounts solely so they can look at their kids’ pages, and some people are on it all the time. I have really enjoyed checking in on my old college pals, looking at all the pictures of my cousins’ kids and even Facebooking people I see every day to set up lunch. And if you ever tire of it, just stop checking in and it’s done.
So if someone asks if you’ll be their FBF (Facebook friend), try saying yes. FBF’s forever.
Cindy, after a lifetime of relocations, has settled in Severna Park where she keeps in touch with her widely scattered friends through Facebook. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org