Saturday, February 25, 2012

Posting my vote on social networking

     I will make no apologies for my love of social networking, particularly on Facebook.
     My friendly nature has kept me in contact with others all my life whether it has been by handwritten letters-perish the thought these days, or phone calls. Now with texting, emailing and live online chats, I am putting it to good use.
     There are varying opinions about shedding one’s privacy, and I am willing to listen to what the experts have to say, but as for me, I am not going to shrink away from networking. If anything, I want to put the latest technology to work for me.
      I can assure you that I take the necessary precautions with the privacy settings on Facebook, and I never announce my entire comings and goings either.
     If you want to look me up, you won’t find much about me from my public profile. Besides, I have to “friend” you before you are able to see the whole enchilada of my doings.
     What I write on my page reflects who I am as a person, and I will leave the nasty, vulgar comments to others-and those people I can block, from coming up on my news feed. Hopefully I post thought-provoking statements that entice my friends to add their opinions on a subject.
     What does disturb me, though, is reading posts from someone who is putting his whole life out there for others to see, including sharing with his virtual friends that his girlfriend is having an affair.  Or worse yet, all the life that he does appear to have is wrapped up in saying “good night” on Facebook every evening. I can pick out the needy people from the happy, secure people on Facebook after reading a few comments.
     I have had some heart-warming experiences in my estimation that have proven worthwhile for me to be on Facebook.
     Take for example, a “connect” that I made from someone in California that recognized my maiden name and contacted me via a private message. We started back and forth with short notes, but soon we got so excited about finding each other that we went to the telephone to continue our conversation. After hearing each other’s voices we laughed over which one of us still sounded more like a native Long Islander than the other.
     It turned out that we both grew up on the opposite ends of the same street, and with his steel-trap mind he remembered all sorts of details that I had long ago buried. Actually, he has become a living reference book for the neighborhood, and I have been begging him to write it down.
      He told me about visiting my dad’s linen store as a young boy of seven and having just enough money to buy his grandmother an embroidered handkerchief for her birthday. You see his mother had passed away when he was very young, and his grandmother was raising him.
     My dad knew this, and probably everything else about people living in a small town, which he carefully did not share at home with my sister and me at the time for obvious reasons.
      My friend told me how dad treated him like any other adult customer buying a gift. He looked and looked at all the choices on the long center table before selecting one with just the right amount of lace around the edges. He knew not to touch, but he said that it was hard to keep his hands in his pockets along with his roll of quarters. Dad made a big deal over the purchase and he wrapped the handkerchief in a gift box with a lovely bow. 
      He never forgot that kindness at a point in life when he needed it as an impressionable young boy. Later on he wondered if he actually had enough money, or possibly, dad took what he had and left it at that. His grandmother and my father have since passed away, but we shared a special moment over that story because of Facebook.  Each of us shed a tear or two with gratitude for our families.
     On one of our trips to California my husband and I will meet my hometown friend at his place of work in the public relations department at Disneyland, and talk more about our good life growing up in a small town.
     After that episode, the whole Facebook connect thing just mushroomed, and before you knew it I had “friended” the others that grew up on Lincoln Street, too, around the same time period.   We were raised when all ages played ball together, performed in makeshift circuses and even challenged one another to board games. Each of us brings a different slant on our early childhood into our conversations, and those good memories bond us together.
     Getting ambitious one day, I started a group alumni page for my beloved elementary school, and now I have many more contacts from not only the neighborhood, but from all over town.
     Facebook is an efficient way for keeping up with my social contacts, sending quick birthday greetings and not loosing touch with former colleagues. I love the surprise contacts from people who enrich my life simply by reaching out.
     I can even read the latest posts from The Livingston County News, too, on Facebook. Now that’s twenty-first century!