I studiously avoided it for a long time, but last summer, I caved. I created a Facebook page. After a week, I was addicted, and now, months later, I'm as addicted to the games as I am to the people. Well, selectively addictive. In honor of Lent, I've sworn off all applications except Farmville. That virtual plot of land has me hooked.
There are good things, though - advantages worth my time. A few weeks ago, I attended a book signing for author Cerella Sechrist, and, thanks to the wonders of social media (FB in particular), I felt as though I was meeting an old friend. It was lovely. All of the awkwardness of an initial meeting had been accomplished in little blips on FB walls, along with emails facilitated by our agent to her author group, and Cerella and I could just jump right in in the middle. I went to Borders expecting simply to support a fellow author, and instead, I got the opportunity to have a lovely conversation with Cerella. We expressed our amazement over the fact that we were both from this area, but had met online, through our agent whose home base is several hours away.
Does social media connect people, or disconnect them?Although the time we spend in front of the computer is also time we could spend with real live human beings, in a sense, we are. The connections we're making online also facilitate actual human connections. In the craziness of our daily lives, a few minutes on Facebook allows us to "check in" with people we wouldn't necessarily see otherwise. Granted, the interactions aren't deep or lengthy, but they keep us connected.
For me, Facebook is part social interaction, part professional connection and part recreation. In each of those circumstances, I am, to some extent, spending time with people whose company I enjoy. Provided I balance that virtual time with real world time spent with real human beings, I consider it time well spent.