I have what I like to call a lukewarm like-hate relationship with Facebook. I've talked about my attempts to cut down (or *gasp* even cut out) my use, to no avail. After all, it's the best way I have to let people know that this blog even exists. It is what it is.
It's easy to hate the thing. It has become a place of hatred...a means to bully...a way to say the most scathingly cruel comment in relative anonymity. It's a spiteful place full of leftists and Tea Partiers who care not whose brain they make explode with their unreliably-sourced opinions. I could clearly go on...
Today. (It's Halloween, as I type this.) Today, I was made aware of the uplifting side of Facebook. The side that makes you despise people a little less. The side that makes you grateful (yes, grateful) for the chance to connect to these people I probably wouldn't be able to communicate with...ever. Sure, some of my "friends" I actually get to see regularly. Still fewer I get to see on a rare treat of an occasion. But, then there are those that, without Facebook, I literally wouldn't know existed anymore.
Colleagues from jobs past. Teachers who touched my life in an inexplicably real, unforgettable way. Long-lost relatives whom I'm glad to know -- for real, KNOW -- just by seeing their regular day-to-day thoughts. Those friends from high school and college who were FAMILY (not "like" family, but FAMILY -- we knew everything about each other, even if we didn't hang out as besties). Those dear family friends whom I had thought melted into the recesses of my bittersweet memories. Again, I could clearly go on...
It was a simple moment. I had posted a collage of Hadley's Charlie Brown "costume" (a yellow polo shirt with the Charlie Brown zig-zag and black pants and sneakers, and a Snoopy stuffed animal; I wanted to make the shirt, but it was impossible to find a plain yellow one!), and one by one, the "likes" started slowly coming in.
Awesome former students...who still remember me as much as I remember them.
Friends of my husband's who have since become MY friends, even vicariously.
Parents of friends.
My SISTER'S co-workers.
My 9th (or was it 8th?) grade math teacher. The one who got me the 91 on the Regents.
Cousins. Aunts. My sister's in-laws. Students-who-were-like-daughters.
Friends who started as farmers' market buddies.
People who remember me as the annoying little sister following around the bigger kids in marching band.
Friends I've had since 2nd grade.
People I met through every job I've ever had, who are still kind enough to keep up on my goings-on.
Dave's former co-workers.
My kindergarten teacher. Oh, the awesome memories with her! Those were the days.
My brother, whose "like" on ANYTHING sends my heart soaring. He's a busy guy, and doesn't dole out "likes" for just any old thing.
My godmother, who moved away to Florida when I was in junior high. She was like another (cooler) mother, and her son was like a best friend and brother rolled into one.
People I acted with onstage YEARS ago who have since moved far, far away.
The list just keeps on comin'. I realized that these people are a part of my history in one way or another. Some, I don't speak with today, but past negative experiences have washed away to a simple, "Oh, it's nice to see that she's a happy mom of some beautiful kids today." Others, it's awesome and uplifting to reconnect with.
All I know is that it filled me with some happiness. For once, Facebook was able to provide me with some positive perspective rather than the general, "What's wrong with the world?" thoughts that usually pop up.
I still try to limit how much time I give to Facebook, because that's what it is -- handing time over that I'll never get back which, for the most part, consists of anger or hurt or rudeness.
Except when it involves George Takei. Or a little boy's Charlie Brown costume.