Tuesday, July 6, 2010

3 Ways Facebook Can Help Your Relationships

This summer marks the 3rd anniversary of my joining Facebook. It was a reluctant addition to my life that summer as I'd been nagged about it by many friends, for many months.

Three years and over 600 "friends" later - I am so glad I joined.

There are folks represented from every era of my life. Grade School. Jr. High. High School. Both Universities I attended and every job I've ever work is accounted in the way of the many people who have touched my life over the years.

Recently - I replied to a friend who was horrified that someone she never spoke to in real life in her past wanted to connect with her on the social networking tool. I stand by what I wrote - "people you did not talk to in real life really have no place in your social network online". For me that is really cut and dry. However while thinking about my comment - I started thinking of distant, strained or damaged relationships and how much Facebook has been a big help to me personally.

While I am certain you can find drama that Facebook has added to some people's lives - I'd like to point out the three ways Facebook has helped me with relationships in my life.

1. Provides Positive Contact with A Huge (and often times, Distant) Extended Family
Seriously - I have over 75 first, second and third cousins in my family. It has always been quite a distant family as well - distant in proximity as well as emotionally. Facebook has provided a way to be in contact with some of my favorite cousins that I just could not nail down personally over the years. It has been a meeting place of sorts to connect and keep in touch on safe terms. Would I enjoy phone calls and visits more? Yeah - I would but perhaps they don't and that is why we can keep contact in a way that is comfortable for all. I would even go so far as to say - I am in more contact with many more family members and I have Facebook to thank for that opportunity

2. Provides a Safe Vehicle for Reconciliation When There Has Been Hurt
I am proud to say that most often - I don't live in conflict with people. Over my adult life - I can count on one hand the number of damaging disagreements I've had with others and in all cases except one - there has been full reconciliation. Because of Facebook - I am certain there is a chance for reconciliation with that one exception in my life. You see - when this person joined (even later than me) I watched as they connected one-by-one with our common friends. I knew this person would NEVER connect with me so I reached out to them. Why? Because I've forgiven the hurt years before and the discomfort was thick in our virtual network so I made the move. I've reached out to this person as I had before the "break up" on their birthday - and on the anniversary of the tragic loss in their life because I love this person. This year, there was even talk of a face-to-face reunion. Not sure we're ready for that but I am certain we would not be where we are today without Facebook

3. Helps Keeps Your Close Friends Close
As a working mom - this has been the most valuable for me. I specifically think of how limited my opportunities are to "chat" with my girls. All our real life conversations are really focused on making plans to catch up in person which is few and far between. So how do you get to know a new friend and share in their day-to-day life? Or how do you keep up on the key milestones with an old friend? Facebook! I am specifically thinking of a recent and pretty close new friend who lives less than 2 miles away yet we are not able to see one another much in the off-season of when our kids cheer together. Well- I'd love to hear all about what she's doing in her tennis league or how her 40th birthday trip to Mexico went but it is JUST NOT POSSIBLE. So we use Facebook to catch up on most of those things and use our time together to share and laugh and talk about other stuff. Could I have done that without Facebook? Sure because she is close by but it would have taken longer. And I don't use it to keep up exclusively with my friends who live far - if we talked before Facebook - we talk now. Facebook is just a supplement to keep me up on the niceties of how the family is doing. Of course I care but I'd rather use our talk time to catch up on each other - not our kids.

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