What do I do when I'm feeling very far away from my family and friends back home? I get online, first check my email (it's my homepage), then I immediately go to Facebook. I find myself on the website more and more, wanting to know what people back home are doing, trying desperately to be connected with their lives. I have to confess, I love it. I don't love all the silly applications because with my slow internet connection, it just takes too long to deal with that aspect of the site. What I do love is how connected I suddenly feel to so many of my friends and family. People constantly update their status, they comment back and forth on each other's walls, post pictures of their new babies or recent trips - the site is genius for keeping people connected and informed about each others lives. This morning I found myself on a college friend's profile and found out she's preggars. We're not that close anymore but I think of her often and love that I can still peep into her life every so often. Ok, that sounds a little stalker-ish but she agreed to be my FB friend so technically it's a mutual agreement.
What's funny is how one sided email now feels. I find that so many people don't reply very quickly to messages sent (yes, I am also a culprit of this) and it can be frustrating. I'm desperate to know what's going on back home with my ever expanding family and my far flung friends, but they all have jobs and lives that keep them very busy so their response rate isn't quite what I would like - especially when my emails can end up being pages long, I'm sure it's intimidating to respond. But I can't fault them since I seem to have a lot of time on my hands these days and I do remember what it feels like to be busy. So when I turn to Facebook, my friends beautiful faces (or strange images) of their profile pics are staring at me, smiling and inviting me to see what's new on their page. Their status message is something cryptic so I have to inquire what they mean. Or I'll find someone has left a message on my wall or commented on a picture of mine. Someone will leave a quick 2 line message for me and it's as if the thousands of miles of ocean between us is suddenly erased. The lives of my godfather, my cousins, aunts and uncles, all those who I haven't spent enough time with, are suddenly illuminated and we're connected in a way that a put off phone call, belated birthday cards or mass emails just can't even contend with.
Jason laughs at those of us who spend so much time on the site - he thinks it's just another way for people to not communicate. I can agree on some levels - that's another reason why I don't like the applications, people invite you to join their zombie game or send you plants for your garden but there is no real interaction. It tells me nothing of how much you miss me or what's on your mind. So yes, it can be another way of not communicating but as with any form of communication, there has to be some kind of initiation. The simple act of giving a thumbs up or commenting on a picture opens the door a crack and that's all it takes sometimes. And in this way, Facebook makes it easier to stay connected to the lives that would otherwise be a complete mystery. And for this, I'm thankful.