Sep 29, 2012
Like: My Favorite Things about Facebook
I like Facebook. I know it's not fashionable to say that these days. What is popular is go gripe about how awful it is and how we hardly ever go on there anyway (even as we update our status). But I'm going to buck the trend and say it loud and proud. I enjoy Facebook.
I first joined Facebook about a week after my oldest son was born--in the early fall of 2008. A former student of mine, Aya Sato, had been encouraging me to join for quite some time, but I'd not gotten around to it. I've never been what you'd call an early-adopter. The bandwagon is usually pretty full by the time I jump on. But on that Sabbath afternoon, Elijah was sleeping in the downstairs playpen, his mother was upstairs getting some much needed sleep as well, and all of a sudden, and quite unexpectedly I found myself with nothing to do. "What the heck, might as well join Facebook" I said to myself. And so I did. And I found I liked it. Much better than Myspace, which was on the brink of entering irrelevancy at that time. I liked the clean (some might say boring) look free of busy wallpaper and other flashy touches. I liked that it seemed more geared for adults rather than kids. I liked the open news feed and the absence of adolescent features like the "top eight friends." So for the past four years I've been a pretty regular Facebook user.
There are many negative things I could say about Facebook, I'm sure, but in keeping with the inability to dislike anything on Facebook, this post will focus only on the things I like.
I like it when people post infrequently and only when they have something witty, entertaining, interesting or thought provoking to say. Heck, I like people who post frequently and always have something witty, entertaining, interesting or thought provoking to say. The witty, entertaining, interesting, and thought-provoking is the important part.
I like the news feed. It's where I almost always go on Facebook. I rarely look people's actual profiles (which is perhaps why I don't hate timeline the way some people do, and why my own profile remains unenhanced under the new timeline feature).
I like being able to provide real-time updates to people who care. I really took advantage of this during our last 8th grade class trip to New York. Many of my students parents were Facebook friends of mine and I was able to post pictures and status updates throughout the trip so that the parents could know where we were and what we were doing throughout the trip. I generally don't friend people very often, but I think I'm going to friend as many of my 8th grade parents as I can so that I can do the same thing this year.
I like getting likes. I think everyone does and I believe it's one of the reasons that Facebook is so popular. It is an engine of affirmation. No matter what one says on Facebook, there invariably will be a string of "likes" and comments to cheer one on. Try it sometime--look for someone to say a mean word on Facebook--you'll be hard pressed to find one (and when you do it will probably be by someone under the age of 16). Despite the news reports about Facebook bullying and such, I find it to be by and large a positive place--certainly more so than the rest of the internet where downright ugliness often prevails.
I like staying in touch with old friends. It's nice being able to feel like I still have a connection--however tenuous--with people that have meant a lot to me from my past. College, high school, and even elementary pals. A host of Saipan loved ones, former students and colleagues. Church members. They are all there and it's nice to "see" them in this little way. Sure there are few people who are Facebook friends but who are acquaintances at most in real life (Even though I don't friend very often, I'm reluctant to decline a friendship request unless I really have no idea who you are), but I'd say most of my friends are exactly that. . . my friends.
I like getting to know people through Facebook. This doesn't happen very often since as I just said, most of my friends are real-life friends too, but there are a few exceptions and they've proven quite rewarding. One in particular is my cousin Dee Johnson. I don't know my dad's side of the family very well, as my parents split when I was quite young, and I admit to being rather incurious about that side of my family for many years. But Dee fascinated me. He friended me very early in my Facebook years and for the longest time I couldn't figure out who he was. I knew he was related to me but I didn't know how. But I found his life fascinating--living and raising his kids in Sweden, for example. Posting hip tracklistings from Spotify. Sporting some cool dreads. The whole American abroad struck a chord with me, as I too knew the rewards and pleasures (as well as challenges) of living outside the U.S. mainland. Eventually through talking to my grandmother, Uncle Antoine, and Aunt Adrienne I was able to discover that Dee was in fact my cousin (as was "Joe Polo" another mystery friend with a Maycock connection). It turns out we even met when we were both very young.
I like funny on Facebook. I appreciate those who brighten my day with a laugh, whether it's their own original brand of humor (Rey Descalso, I'm looking at you.) or those funny, snarky e-card things
I like people who are positive without being sappy or cliche. This is no easy task and I admire those few who pull it off so well. Kristen Jarnes Browning, an aquaintance from college who regularly posts her gratitude lists comes to mind..
Facebook gets a lot of flak these days. Flak about privacy concerns, flak about oversharing, flak about political postings and the ensuing squabbles, flak about the supposed evidence of rampant narcissism in it's social media landscape, but to me Facebook is what you make of it. And what I've made of it, I like quite well.