I say, Facebook. It’s an incredible tool — a “social utility” as they call it — for keeping in contact with your friends and family. It’s especially cool for finding people you haven’t seen or talked to in years — college friends, people from conferences, etc. You write on their walls, wait for them to write on yours, read about where they’re working and how many kids they have. (FYI: to get in touch with teenagers these days, don’t e-mail them. That’s old school. Facebook them. Or text message.)
You can make as much of it or as little of it as you want. You can show as much personality or as little as you want. You can add applications out the wazoo and annoy all your friends by inviting them all to do the same things you’ve done. (Ok, maybe that part’s not so great.) And pictures — you can upload pictures galore and eavesdrop on everyone else’s life by clicking through all their pictures. You can ask famous people to be your friend, and they might say yes. You can join lots of groups. (Here’s one for HBC’s missions conference. Here’s another one for the Edgewood Ski Retreat. Yes, it is ski-tastic.) You can even play online Scrabble — called Scrabulous — to your heart’s content. (Anyone who wants to play me, join the fun. Search for Benjamin Hoak.)
It’s a completely different animal than a blog (Xanga, WordPress, Blogger, etc.) Blogs let you ramble, expound, describe your day, tell how brilliant your kids are, talk about what’s going on in the world. Facebook lets you establish contact and makes it easy to check in every now and then. More than likely, after your initial rush of finding friends and saying hi, you won’t talk to them all that much. But — and this is important — you’ll know that you can talk to them if you want. Blogs and Facebook aren’t enemies — you can do both just fine. In fact, you can even set Facebook to update with your blog posts.
So in this brave new world, what issues do users face? Glad you asked:
–Facebook is a monitor of relationship status: How do you know your love is real? Check Facebook. Apparently for many college students, a relationship or breakup isn’t real until they see the little red heart indicating they’re in a relationship with someone (or a heart with a big crack showing that the relationship is broken beyond repair).
–The aforementioned hyperactive friends on Facebook? Here’s how to deal with them.
–Some people don’t like it when their parents join Facebook (anyone can join as long as they have an e-mail address), but others don’t care. It opens up a whole new dynamic that’s fascinating. Just Google “facebook parents” and you’ll get a ton of articles about it. These parents took advantage of it.
–Things get interesting when bosses and employees become friends. On that note, it’s not a good idea to plunk a bunch of pictures of your latest wild party on your profile. Potential employers are now Googling applicants and checking their Facebook sites. One article mentioned a principal (I think) who asked potential teachers if they had a Facebook site. If they answered yes, he’d reply, “Oh, I have a computer right here. Let’s pull it up.”
—Ten things you didn’t know about Facebook.
Facebook is like many things — it’s got enormous potential that you can use for good or evil. Act wisely, young jedis.