Well, all the buzz for this weekend seems to be about the movie "The Social Network" which opens in theatres today. I have to admit, I have been wanting to see this movie since I saw the first trailers a few months ago, and not because I am a Facebook junkie (which, of course, I am). I think it will be interesting to see the story behind the creation of, undoubtedly, one of the greatest phenomena of this millennium. Now that I am reading some reviews of the movie I am even more intrigued....Oscar Buzz!!!! I wasn't actually expecting the movie to be great, just an interesting story. I will definitely have to check it out.
It got me to thinking about what Facebook has actually done for me since I joined in early 2007. At first, of course, the novelty of Facebook was the opportunity to find old friends/neighbours/ex-boyfriends that you haven't seen in ages and check in on what they were doing. Did that guy who broke my heart in 10th grade end up bald and fat? Did the most popular girl in school really end up living happily ever after with the captain of the football team? How about that best friend that I lost touch with when she moved away the summer before high school? Answers to all of this, and more, could be found on Facebook. The first few months were ADDICTIVE - searching for all your long lost buddies. I can imagine office productivity was at an all time low during the early days of FBs popularity, before IT departments had sense enough to block the use of the site at work.
Now, however, I think FB has morphed into something beyond what anyone ever thought possible. Now, one of the greatest things for me about Facebook is being able to keep in touch with my family all over the world. I have over 60 FIRST cousins - most of whom I have either never met, or have not seen since I was quite young. Since FB came on the scene, more than half of those first cousins are on my friends list - as are their children and grandchildren (in some cases), giving me the opportunity to actually KNOW them. On my recent trip to Newfoundland, it was amazing to meet these relatives who were no longer strangers, even though distance had kept me from seeing them for many, many years.
Since my parents moved to Newfoundland back in February and my only brother has been living in Vancouver for several years, it is wonderful to be able to check on what they are up to and for them to be able to see pics of my kids' lost teeth, new hairstyles and redecorated bedrooms. Since I now have a new niece or nephew due to arrive in February, I won't feel so isolated from his/her little west coast life because mommy and daddy can keep us up-to-date on Facebook.
The other benefit (admittedly, an unexpected one) is what a great tool FB has become for my business. I can think of 3 or 4 real estate deals this year alone that would not have happened were it not for Facebook. I realized that there were a lot of people in my immediate circle that had no idea that I was a real estate agent. Now they do, thanks to FB, and they have an easy way to get in touch with me if they have any real estate questions. I have no problem adding past clients to my friends list, if they request it, as I never post anything on FB that I wouldn't want everyone to know. It is a great way to keep in touch with them and give them a chance to really get to know you as a person, instead of just the person that sold their house.
My friends list, relatively small compared to most, currently sits at around 400 - most of whom are old friends from the past, family members, co-workers and people that are in my current social circle. There are also a handful of real estate agents (mostly from the GTA, but several from other provinces and the USA)that are there for networking purposes. There is also at least one person on that list who I actually met BECAUSE of Facebook, and we have since become good friends. I trim my friends list regularly to get rid of folks that annoy me, post things that are offensive, or routinely get into fights with others via their status updates. The friends that remain on my list - I look forward to hearing what they have to say, sharing ideas, hearing about their awesome/crazy/stressful/funny/crappy day. I love to hear about engagements, new babies, vacations and birthdays. Sometimes life can get in the way of friendships and relationships, and Facebook gives you an easy way to just stay connected.
To be quite honest, I am not sure how we ever stayed in touch BEFORE Facebook came along. How did we plan a party, organize a fundraiser or remember everyone's birthday? I realize that Facebook is now a multi-billion dollar commodity, but I think most of the 500 million users (with the exception of, possibly, my husband) would agree that Facebook has changed the way they socialize, stay in touch and even run their businesses. Oh sure, it can be a huge time waster (some of those stupid games are ADDICTIVE!) but I think that if we woke up tomorrow and discovered that Facebook was gone, it would be sorely missed - as would all 400 of my FB friends.