Thursday, April 2, 2009

Facebook

In those first few days and weeks after I signed up for a Facebook account, I was “friended” by people I hadn’t heard from in years. Did I go to high school with you? Friend! Did you go to elementary school with my little brother and I babysat you? Friend! Do our kids go to school together? Do we work together? Did you babysit my kids? Friend!

Over 175 million people have decided that Facebook is a really cool social networking tool that allows you to pretty much share your entire life with the world, or just your friends, or your friends and their friends. You can post your status, post a link, post a photo. It’s useful for “reconnecting” with people and keeping track of their status and their photos and their lives in general.

Some people use Facebook more than others and for different purposes. For example, I “friended” a local politician in our state legislature, who uses Facebook to keep us updated on what is happening in the state legislature. In addition to notes about bills he’s introduced, he updates his status while he’s in committee, hearing testimony, and it’s great! Live feedback! Even the news media is watching him for updates.

Others use Facebook to play games, take silly quizzes, and “poke” people. (I have never understood the poke thing.) They list their five favorite books, movies, television shows; they pass around “25 things about me” to share details about themselves.

I use Facebook to post links to news stories I want to make sure my friends are aware of, so they can think about what’s really happening in this country. The average user on Facebook has 120 friends. When I post a news story and a friend reads it and comments on it, then their friends can read it too. Sometimes I copy news stories posted by other friends and they post stories copied from me.

Most of the feedback from my friends is positive, with some messages saying they’ve learned more about what’s going on from my Facebook links than they’d heard or seen in their regular news sources. I’m not usually asking for commentary by posting the links, I’m just sharing information, but these links occasionally attract negative defensive comments from my friends who don’t share my political persuasion.

This week one of those “friends” dropped me as a friend, which really doesn’t bother me and doesn’t change how I feel about her. However, she is still friends with some of my mutual friends, so when she talks about dropping me because I’m “shoving” my Conservative “propaganda” down her throat every day, I still hear about it.

I’d like to remind her, and others who don’t want to see the links that I post to MY page that Facebook understands their concerns. There used to be a setting called “See less about this person,” but with the recent Facebook home updates it’s now simply called “Hide.” If you don’t want to see my status and my links everyday you can simply put your mouse next my link where it is showing on your news feed and this little gray “hide” will pop up. Click on that and voila – you will not be bothered by unwanted news from me or anyone else who challenges you to be “tolerant” and understanding about the other side again.

Remember that when using a social network like Facebook, you aren’t always friends with people because you agree on everything. And if one of your friends just won’t stop posting “What character are you from Sex and the City” or another item you find completely irrelevant in your life, you don’t have to drop them as a friend - you can smile sweetly and click on “hide”.

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