I've been on Facebook since last summer when the younger staff members in my summer office bugged me about getting with it. You'll like it once you get on, they said. You'll be amazed at how fun it is. You'll get in touch with people you've lost touch with. It'll be addicting, they said.
Well, they were right that I did finally understand the pull of Facebook. Initially I couldn't see the value, but once I accumulated a few friends, I saw how it seemed to connect me to people I hadn't heard from in a while. And the quick messages on my wall were fun to read. And I started leaving messages back. This is neat, I said.
And those status messages. They let me know what all my friends are doing. For example, I know that Dave skipped breakfast this morning and that Jenny's dogs are at boot camp. I know that Leslie is cleaning and Ross is spending the day with his family. I know that Ashleigh has a cold and Becky's headed to Wilmington. I know that lots of my friends HATE Daylight Saving Time. I know that Rosannah is snowbound and Dan is traveling to Denver.
Sometimes knowing these things makes me feel like I'm a better friend than I am. I'm glad to be able to be in touch with friends who live in other parts of the country, friends with whom I can't communicate personally on a daily basis. But what I'm finding is that sometimes I'm relying on Facebook to let me know what my friend down the hall at the office is up to. Or how my coworker who is just a few buildings away is feeling. I'm neglecting friends with whom I could actually have a conversation because I'm reading their status messages.
I'm thinking Facebook is ok as far as it goes. I'm glad I've reconnected with old roommates and former students and even my coworker down the hall. But to consider myself to be showing genuine qualities of friendship just because I read someone else's status, looked at their photo albums and checked out their message wall---well, I'm not sure that's really what I'd call a genuine friend. As long as it's an addition to and not a substitute for the more personal touches of friendship, Facebook is ok as far as it goes.
Now excuse me while I go update my status. I haven't changed it since I told everyone I was celebrating National Grammar Day back on Tuesday. How are all my friends gonna know what I'm doing if I don't tell them!?!