Facebook at 50

This post was originally published on April 10, 2009 on my first web site.

Don’t dismiss sites like Facebook and My Space. It’s an awesome resource. It’s amazing how easy it is to keep up with the people and it’s quite addicting. The social network can be unsettling as well. It was last summer when a friend said she couldn’t believe I wasn’t on Facebook. I told her I worked in a newsroom and one of the first places we go to look for a public picture of someone in trouble or dead is Facebook and My Space.

I always felt sorry for the poor SOB who was already suffering from the indignity of being on the nightly newscast to double their embarrassment because their “My Space” or “Facebook” picture was of them drunk on a beach in a speedo.

Even though I never have owned a speedo, I resigned myself to not take part in these digital shenanigans. Another friend had a strict rule when it came to social web sites, their circle of friends are all people who live out of town and they had to be more than a three hour car or a plane trip away. Their thinking was people who live in town are an easy visit or a phone call away…why bother talking to colleagues, friends or family when you see them all of the time? More opinions floated in. Most were positive. And, I kept on reading more blogs and articles about Facebook. By the end of summer I was up and running on FB. Thank the digital gods, I didn’t have many friends who are even slightly geeky enough to be on FB. So the curiosity began to subside for this 50 year old. I said to myself “this would be really cool if I was 20 something.” But slowly the 5 friends and family led to 10 and then to 20. And then the first eye opening thing happened.

A person I never expected to see or hear from ever again asked to be part of my circle of friends. This was unsettling, I had moved on with my life. And getting hung up in the past, while fun for a while, rarely moves you forward. But, just the opposite happened. Rediscovering my high school friend brought me back to center. I was so caught up in a bad work situation that I kind of got lost in the minutiae of a career in an industry in transition. I suppose turning 50 added to my befuddled state. In any event, our conversations reminded me of the reasons why I took the path, I took in my life. And, I began to remember what’s really important and what really isn’t. And, then the second thing happened.

I and 39 of my colleagues one Monday morning were directed into one of our station’s studios and, putting it politely, were fired. Suddenly, the group of people I listened to and spoke with everyday about all the stories we covered from the Wall Street bailout to SU basketball we no longer around.

After my son got on the bus for school in the morning it was very quiet in the house. But not on Facebook. Just about everyone I worked with or befriended in the last 6 months chimed in with what they were doing or not doing and it became a nice connection to make even if it was just small talk. Actually, without the backdrop of a wound-up, tight as a drum newsroom to deal with many of us found we really enjoyed each others company.

So if you have been thinking about, my advice is to go for it. I think Facebook really adds to life. And, like food or wine, use it in moderation because Facebook can be addicting!


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