It’s my (sometimes only) connection to family and friends. I know that phone conversations and in person visits are ideal, and Facebook haters argue if someone was important enough, I’d make the time. But the reality is I love a lot of people that have crossed my path in 41 years. My family alone is extensive and spread widely across the country. It’s just not realistic that we can hop on the phone with any frequency, and I don’t want my only touch point with them to be a yearly holiday card. With Facebook, I get to connect with them regularly. And it’s not all “Oh, that looks like a yummy lunch!” I can also offer my thoughts when my loved ones are going through hard times, and I get the same support back, like recently when both of my cats passed away. My relationships with my family and friends has gotten nothing but deeper as a result.
It’s helped me through many rough parenting moments. Crowd-sourcing parenting advice may seem risky, but I’ve found one of the best ways to use Facebook is to find out what other parents are doing! I can post things as simple as “What’s the going rate for the tooth fairy” to bigger problems like “My kids seriously hate each other — is this normal?” and I always get thoughtful advice that either validates my thoughts or gives me ideas I’d never thought of before. Most of all, I never feel alone going through these issues.
It’s my news source. I loathe watching unfiltered news on TV (many reasons — violence, network biases, lack of time), but I still care about what’s going on in the world. Through careful following of myriad news outlets, my feed is becoming a one-stop shop for the important stories happening. When someone asks me, “Did you hear about (insert important news story)?” I can always say yes.
It’s my Ebay. Back in the day, I was a huge Ebayer. I’d recoup at least half of the expensive Stride Rite shoes I’d splurge on for my kids, sell maternity clothes, and save money by buying pre-owned kid clothes in lots. What a pain it always was for shipping though! Where I live, we have multiple local selling sites for different interests. These are private groups where people sell electronics, baby stuff, home goods, and more. Sellers post a photo of what they’re selling, the price, cross street, and boom, my stuff is usually sold and picked up the same day. So. Much. Easier.
It’s my journal. I’ve been on Facebook since 2007, posting multiple times a week. These posts have become a diary. And since I don’t just post the positive but also the struggles, the ridiculousness, the beauty and pain of life, when I look back, I see a wonderful recap of my journey so far as a mother, wife, daughter, and friend. It’s incredibly special to have comments on photos or updates that I can also share with my kids someday, from people who they don’t see often or sadly may have passed away.
It’s allowed me to develop new, meaningful friendships. I’ve been surprised by some Facebook connections that I didn’t know all that well yet in “real life” — a mom of my son’s teammate or a photographer that did a session for us. But some of these acquaintance connections have, solely through Facebook, developed into deeper relationships over time that I never would have had otherwise.
Are people using Facebook to have affairs, bully others, and create a fantasy life? Sure. But I’ll choose to ignore the noise I don’t want to hear and use it the way it enriches my life the most.