With almost 500,000,000 people on Facebook, if it were a country it would be the third largest country in the world behind China and India and right ahead of the USA. Online communities of this size would have been difficult to imagine even a few years ago. The world is getting smaller.
Back when I graduated from high school I had a little black book with my girlfriend’s and some of my drinking buddies phone numbers. No matter how good you are at keeping in touch with people (holiday cards, postcards, phone calls, etc.) eventually you lose touch with a lot of people. Fast forward to the last few years and I think we can all agree that Facebook is the world’s largest high school reunion. I think that about 90% of my high school class has reconnected on FB. It has been a lot of fun catching up with people and seeing what’s new in their lives since back when the earth was cooling.
I find that although there were cliques in high school, reconnecting years later those cliques have gone away. Some of that is definitely a function of maturing, but I think that the transparent nature of FB has also contributed to this. Because we can see what our friends are doing for a living, who they’re married to, what hobbies they have, how twisted their sense of humor is and tons of other pieces of information about them, we feel like we know them well although we may not have seen them in decades.
Let’s make sure that we are on the same page regarding this not being stalking. Rule number one of Social Networking: if you don’t want someone to know something particular about you, don’t post it. This may sound blatantly obvious, but many people don’t see what’s right in front of them (just ask my wife, Karin). Stalking is when someone violates your privacy and looking at someone’s FB profile is not stalking. Just wanted to clear that up.
Knowing that the world is getting smaller and that we are all becoming more and more interconnected, I suggest that we look for opportunities to build relationships in ways that we never had the opportunity to do in the past. If I look at your profile and I see when your birthday is, how much effort would it be for me to send you a happy birthday message on FB or by email? Not very difficult at all. But most people don’t invest the few minutes that build relationships. I think that’s a shame. There are a million ways that we can spread the love. Take a few minutes and learn about your FB friends. How many kids do they have? What kind of work do they do? Where do they live? What kind of hobbies do they have? These are all opportunities to reach out and start a conversation with someone who’s your FB “friend”. In a more and more interconnected world, relationships are the glue that hold it all together. Spread the love.