I am so absolutely thankful for facebook. What started as an e-mail invitation from my brother-in-law, has turned into a daily ritual. I have to wonder what life would have been like over the past two years if it weren't for facebook.
I am a very social person. I love to be around people. The catch is, I love to be around people I am familiar with. I have learned that you can be sociable and self-conscious all at the same time. I want to talk with you, but what is it that you are really thinking about me? If we already have an established relationship, those thoughts never cross my mind. For the most part, I relate very easily to most people and can slip comfortably into a conversation. If I at all sense that there is a lack of sincerity, I have no desire to connect.
For various reasons after high school, the number one reason being weight gain, I avoided people. Chances are, if I were out shopping, yeah, I saw you there. Then I hauled ass to another isle or pretended not to see you. I was so ashamed of myself and decided that you would be ashamed of me as well. So I avoided it. What a horrible feeling and way to rob myself of interacting.
This is where facebook became a wonderful tool. I reluctantly signed on and quickly became addicted. It was too much fun to see where everyone was, what they looked liked and be invited to peek into their world, as they want you to see it. Surprisingly, walls were coming down. We all have so much to be proud of. And because we all want to make the best impression, all of our best achievements, we put put out there first. Our marriages, our children, jobs, our happy thoughts. I found it very uplifting. After years of hiding (beyond my comfort level), I was able to see what is was that I had achieved. I had very little to be ashamed of and so much to be proud of. I can only hope that many experienced this same feeling.
Beyond that, there are the connections. Unbelievably incredible connections. High school friends, family, old acquaintances. I am more connected to some of my family than I have ever been in my life. Ever. I have a window into my cousin's life in Florida, my sister in Virginia Beach, family in Canada,a "cousin" in Tonawanda, and my other sister just a couple towns over. Even with my husbands family, who are spread out all over (until recently, London too!). Pictures and videos are shared and it is so wonderful. It's great to see them at family functions and not feel distance. Surprisingly, we have even more to talk about when we see each other.
Then there are the friendships that have been strengthened, reunited and discovered. There have been many. Several have been with people I didn't really spend too much time with in high school , but we shared a class or two, maybe lunch. Sometimes I can't even remember where it was that we "knew" each other from. I just know that we did more than simply pass each other by. Honestly, most of my high school social time was spent with a boyfriend. We all know what happens then. I didn't have much time after school for social activities, so any time I was afforded, was spent on the boyfriend. Leaving virtually no time for my girlfriends or to discover new friends. So when some friend requests would come in, I would have to think a moment to put the name with the face. By the way, should the high school boyfriend be reading this, I have no regrets other than wishing I had more time!
I have been able to read so much of what is happening with everybody. And I am always so encouraged by the amount of support that is out there for one another. There have been marriages, births, divorces, graduations, losses, achievements, bad mommy days, hysterical children's quotes and funny moments in life. When flipping through the channels and we come across something like TMZ, I find that I have no idea who most of the "stars" are. But I know my FB peeps! I'd much rather read about them. They are real.
Who knew that a social network could encourage such personal healing as well as wonderful relationships? It has certainly made the past couple of years a whole lot easier for me. I no longer turn away when I see a familiar face. Often, while shopping, I run into someone and we stand there and talk for a good amount of time. This would never have happened before facebook. My walls are down. If you are a "friend", you know everything there is to know. I have nothing to hide and I don't really worry about what you are thinking. It is what it is.
There are some that are opposed to this social networking thing. I guess then all I can say is that, maybe it's just not for them. Funny thing is, the few that I have encountered that feel this way, have pretty good reasons. One, cannot express their feelings because they are not allowed to. Another, is just too insecure and angry at the world. These are definitely not good candidates. There are those who misuse facebook. It is unfortunate and from what I understand, they are from a younger generation. Not to say that there those that are older and should know better that are guilty of the same.
My experience has been great. Each day, I look forward to reading what everyone is up to. I enjoy the interaction. And I am so elated to be able to be in touch with so many great people!