Rich – Whether we’re addicts, opponents or casual browsers, we all have our opinion of Facebook. For some of us it’s an unwarranted invasion of our privacy, for others it’s practically lifeblood, while for most it’s a time-efficient way to keep friends and family up-to-date with what we’re doing, and vice versa. For some it’s even a way to make new friends.
I have to admit that for the longest time I shunned the world of online social networking. Odd as it may sound, I finally capitulated, after years of resistance, simply so Sue would no longer have to be ‘married to (blank)’. Apparently you’re not a real person if you don’t have a Facebook account… Even my Mum has one now.
For months my account sat virtually (no pun intended) empty, comprising only that information you were obliged to provide. Eventually though, I got curious and had a bit more of a nose around and slowly, very slowly, built up my profile. I even tried a couple of games, although I found them all dull, to be honest.
I’ve been very lucky and lived in, and travelled to, more than my fair share of different places over the years. The upside of such a semi-nomadic lifestyle is that I’ve met loads of great people from all over the World. Every place I’ve been I’ve made new friends. The downside is that when it came time to move on, I invariably lost touch with most of them.
I have to admit that I’ve never been a letter writer, so I guess this was inevitable. And practically speaking, in such circumstances it’s impossible to keep in touch (beyond the yearly Christmas card) with everyone who was once important to you. But that doesn’t make it any less sad.
That’s why, for me, the best thing about Facebook has to be reconnecting with friends with whom you’ve lost contact. There’s nothing quite like getting a friend request out of the blue from someone who was once a daily part of your life, but who you haven’t heard from in years.
This weekend we visited our friends Katherine and Björn, which is what got me thinking about the whole Facebook thing. I spent the early 2000s living and working in Germany. During that time, Katherine and Björn were two of my closest friends, initially because Katherine and I were two native English speakers (well, I am at least… Katherine’s actually American) awash in a sea of German!
When Sue and I moved to Canada at the beginning of 2004, for reasons none of us really understand, we lost touch. Then last year we reconnected through a mutual friend on Facebook. Even better, we discovered that in the intervening years, Katherine and Björn had moved back the States, and now live less than three hours away from us. So, after six years of being out of touch, we’re practically neighbours again! And all thanks to Facebook.