The other day a friend who I haven’t seen in over two years wrote on my wall.
She asked how I’ve been, how classes are going, what I was planning on doing that summer, and so on and so forth. As I wrote an enthusiastic response on her wall, it really struck me how incredibly easy Facebook made it to remain close to people you otherwise would have naturally drifted away from. Friends from other countries that you met traveling abroad, friends from short little events that lasted only a weekend, and even friends from elementary school are literally all just a click away. It kind of blows my mind how I can see the status updates of, for example, my classmate from second grade whose last name I only vaguely remembered before finding him on Facebook through a mutual friend.
In fact, staying connected with people was the main reason I got a Facebook in the first place. I had resisted the social pressure for years, wanting to be one of those cool people in high school who wouldn’t conform to mass trends out of principle. I succeeded for quite a while, studiously ignoring my friends’ nagging about how I was completely out of the loop for 50% of my school’s social life because I wasn’t on Facebook. Then, the summer before my senior year, I went on my first study abroad program. It was one of those programs in England where a bunch of American students get to live for a month in the country, take some classes, and generally enjoy life. I made some of the best and closest friends over those few weeks, and knowing that the easiest (and pretty much only) way of staying connected to these awesome people was caving in and, finally, getting my own Facebook. So I got off my pedestal and signed up. Sure enough, that’s how I still talk to them today. It’s funny because I honestly feel that if I didn’t have Facebook, I really wouldn’t. I would simply forget to, or lose their numbers when I got a new phone, or be too busy to sit down and write them letters, old school style. Facebook has made it so incredibly easy to not only keep in touch with far-away people, but also just to have a daily newsfeed reminder that they exist.
People from our parent’s generation didn’t have this. They set time aside to call their long-distance friends on the home phone, settling down to catch up on the last few years during an hours-long conversation. With Facebook, our generation just takes a 30-second study break to poke a person, go through their recent status updates, and maybe comment on their profile picture, “You look so pretty! Miss you!!!! <3” It’s insane, comparatively.
I, for one, am extremely grateful for Facebook’s ability to connect people from all stages of my life so easily. True, it probably makes us lazier – we throw out a quick wall post to that New Hampshire friend instead of taking the time to call – but in the balance, a quick wall post is probably better than simply never remembering or having the time to call at all.
Of course, this is all contingent on the fact that Facebook doesn’t pull a MySpace and fall off the face of the earth. But hey, if that happens, we can all just go hang out at Google+.