Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Joys of Facebook....

It's been an intriguing few weeks since I joined Facebook, thanks to Linda's encouragement. I've found many friends (89 at present), mostly friends from church which is very helpful as living 40 miles from church means that I can't be involved with my friends during the week. Facebook allows me to keep up with who is doing what and with whom; it makes me feel much more connected with our beloved church family of 15 years while saving on gas money and long distance phone bills.

Facebook is also helpful in allowing me to keep in touch with some of my former students from Heritage Christian. I'm "friends" with several students from this past year as well as some students from several years ago. I'm also "friends" with many of my church friends' young people, some of whom have been or will be students in the co-op writing courses I teach at Heritage.

I've also been able to look up old friends from high school and college as well as some of my friends right here in our small town. Our lives seem to become so busy that we don't have time to communicate meaningfully with one another, even in the slower lifestyle one finds and cherishes in small towns. For instance, I never knew that my friend Norm read the classics, but he mentioned in a status report that he was going to read Milton. Now we have a whole other range of conversation topics available when we meet face-to-face at the grocery store or post office.

Besides having friends on Facebook, there is also the great advantage of the FB applications and groups. I've found groups who discuss medieval literature, Shakespeare, Chaucer, gardening, U2, being English teachers, plus fan sites for television shows like House MD and for writers like Anne Lamott and Donald Miller. There's even a group for native San Diegans! Many of these groups are also wonderful for networking: one woman contacted me about writing, and she's here in San Diego. Another found me by searching for homeschooling moms in the San Diego area as she's new to Southern California and needed help finding a home school group for her family. I even found a group for Sonlighters, those who use the same home school curricula that we have for the past decade.

Plus friends can learn more about YOU as well: we list our favorite music, TV shows, movies, quotes, plus our education and work histories. These are not available to the public at large, just to the friends whom you approve to see your page. After trying out Facebook for a week or so, I felt it was secure enough for E. to have her own page so she also can communicate with friends from church and with several of her friends who have moved away from our area.

I enjoy being able to bless my friends as well, with wishes for a Happy Birthday (a birthday list is automatically provided for your friends) and other messages I can write on their "walls" and they can also write on mine. There are also options for private messages and IM as well right on Facebook.

I'm especially enjoying the Jane Austen and Christian Writers and Poets groups, as well as just writing on my friends' walls and seeing what they're up to via the status updates one can write at any time and is read by your friends. I can let everyone know that we got rain Thursday afternoon, or that I'm tired Friday night or that I'm driving into the city this afternoon or that I'm reading a new library book. I also like the Shelfari application which allows you to list some of your books on a virtual bookshelf; friends can also click on the books you've read and read your opinions and/or book reviews.

Thus Facebook has become a great source of fun and frolic this summer. I even changed Carol's Magnetic Words this afternoon, just to leave her a cute little poetic message on her page. So if you aren't on Facebook, I would seriously encourage you to get with the times. It's fun -- and a great way to meet up with old friends and communicate better with existing ones. And the price is certainly right: it's FREE.

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