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Earlier today, I posted on my Facebook page about a story I was working on, which requires a variety of specific details about Montgomery, AL, and its logistics that only locals there would be able to provide. I am not able to make it down there currently, and I don’t know anyone who lives there – in fact, to my knowledge, I don’t know anyone in the entire state. Thanks to Facebook, within one hour, I had five sets of contact information in hand, including one from a high school friend I hadn’t spoken to in twenty years. Problem solved.

That is just one small example of why I love Facebook. The reason I am expressing this now, and sharing it here, is because of all the negative comments I am hearing about Facebook, in conversation, in the press (especially the financial press), and even on Facebook itself – which, if you think about it, is so hypocritical it’s hilarious.

Like most people who can recall a life without computers, I was initially dubious about Facebook, and certainly did not anticipate even liking it, much less visiting it nearly every day, as I have since come to do. I was dragged onto the site by a friend, who wanted me to view an acting reel he had posted there. Ooooh-kay.

Soon after, much to my surprise, I found myself receiving friend requests from people I hadn’t seen in years, from high school, college, earlier jobs, and various other waystations and random one-off adventures from my life.

Like most users of the site, there was a range of initial reactions to these requests. In some cases, these were people I had deeply regretted losing touch with, had thought of often, and was thrilled to be reconnected with. Many of these have led to actual reunions, and renewed friendships, that would have never happened otherwise.

In other cases, while the friendship perhaps wasn’t as strong, I was happy to see their faces, and their families, and learn a bit about what they do and what kind of person they have become. Perhaps because I am a writer it resonates more deeply for me than some, but it is a great reminder of how mysterious this life truly is, and how we are all steered by fate in ways both large and small.

The final group of friends are those that, perhaps, overshare, or express too many fundamental differences of opinion from yourself to bear. Personally, I can count the number of these people on one hand. I am sure others would claim far more. Fortunately, there is a simple and elegant solution to this problem. Block them. Problem solved. You don’t have to unfriend them or alienate them, simply remove their posts from your feed. Anyone who does anything other than this is either a sadist or else looking for a fight.

Speaking of “fights,” I have also enjoyed a number of invigorating political, social, and moral debates on Facebook, with people from all over the world, and all across the spectrum. In one especially memorable exchange, in which we were discussing which books should NEVER be made into a film, Catcher in the Rye was inevitably cited, and I chimed in with something I had heard from a reliable source: that even the writer’s own son couldn’t get the rights. Lo and behold, that selfsame son – whose name I will not repeat here, lest he show up again to scold me – entered the thread to dispute this claim (rather heatedly, I might add). It was an awkward moment, I suppose, for me. On the other hand, how COOL was it that something like that even happened? And where else could that have even been possible, in real time, like it was on Facebook?

This makes a nice segue to another reason why I love Facebook. For every old friend I have reconnected with, it has also been a great resource to keep up to date with family, current friends, parents of my kids’ friends, people I work with, and even people I simply admire and hope to work with some day. I can see what they’re up to, what they’re enjoying culturally, and how they’re looking since I last saw them. I can touch base with a brief post or instant message, or even just a “Like” on one of their posts to let them know I have seen it (which is really all I hope for when I post something). Other times, the things they write about provide the perfect opening for a call or to plan a visit. Either way, though, just seeing a photo and hearing about a movie they liked or a book they read makes me feel connected to them – and to the world at large – in some small yet current way, which would not have been possible otherwise.

And really, isn’t that what it’s all about?

I think we have all gotten spoiled by all this technology at our fingertips. It is so easy to do so many things that used to be so much more difficult. It is easy to get jaded, and to take it all for granted. It is easy to be cynical. Yes, Facebook sells ads, and it can occasionally be a little jarring how well-targeted those ads can be, but it’s a free service, people. Do you remember when there were rumors of a monthly fee? I do. And I don’t take it for granted. When I think about how much code and how many warehouse-sized servers it must take to operate the site, it seems like a very minor inconvenience, which in fact most of the time I don’t even notice. And when I do, it’s often because the ad actually intrigues me. I have even clicked on a few of them. And as long as they don’t start including Nigerian Princes who need a loan so that they can come to America and unlock their vast fortunes that they will happily share with me, they can keep right on doing it – which is more than any of my e-mail accounts can say.

So there you go. I love Facebook. If you are reading this, I would wager that you do, too, at least to a degree, whether you are willing to admit it or not.

If not, feel free to “unfriend” me. I’ll still love you, too. Just not as much.

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