The meme at left is one of them.
Or, in Facebook parlance: Yes. This.
I typically meet these people-- the ones I want to hang out with offline -- in one of the arenas that brought me to Facebook in the first place: via my Thirty One business, via my writing and via my role as a parent.
The first two are business connections -- networking for the twenty-first century -- that have become personal connections. But, this summer, as I prepare to send my only child out into the real world holding zone that is college, the third one has taken on particular significance.
As our kids were growing up, those of us who were real-world friends first and Facebook friends second posted the milestone pictures -- first days of school, proms, graduations. Digital photo albums that gave us windows into the lives of our friends and their families, regardless of physical distance, these postings allowed us to "ooh" and "ahh" over each other's kids, marveling at how fast they were growing, how beautiful/handsome they'd become and how amazing their accomplishments were. This was one of the reasons we all joined Facebook in the first place -- so we could stay connected, even if only peripherally, regardless of how busy life got. Facebook helped us to keep up with significant events in the lives of those who mattered to us, even if many years had passed since we'd seen one another. And, when those real world meetings came about, our shared Facebook experience helped us to start face-to-face conversations with relevant current events instead of the generic, "So, what's new with you?"
But meeting people online first is different. And becoming part of a group comprised of strangers whose families are in the same place experientially is a whole new journey. One of my favorite Facebook groups is Grown and Flown. Made up of parents whose kids are in the process of moving from our nest to one of their own, it's a place where parents who are navigating a new stage of family life can benefit from one another's experience.
We're branching out, just as our kids are. And, what's both strange and interesting is that, instead of our children's lives following our trajectory, ours are following theirs. As my daughter prepares to meet peers from all over the world who just happened to end up at the same university, I'm meeting parents from all over the world whose kids are doing the same thing.
Social media can unite and it can divide. It can keep us in touch with friends we haven't seen in ages, and make us question why we became friends with other people in the first place. Like a cocktail party you can attend in your pjs while sipping your beverage of choice, Facebook, in particular, introduces us to friends of friends who become our friends.
Don't get me wrong -- I have no desire to replace my real world friends with the online variety. Instead, I'm celebrating the fun that comes with meeting new friends in old places.