While watching the news recently, I realized that many events that happen on earth are, in part, connected to Facebook. The recent uprising by citizens in Egypt was helped by the huge number of people who were notified about protests that were organized through this and other social networks. In fact, it played such a huge role that one couple in Egypt named their newborn baby, Facebook.
When I first learned of Facebook, I wanted no part of it. I spend too much time online as it is, and a social media site seemed like another way to waste my time. After turning down requests to join, I finally gave in. When I joined, I did so with the intention that I would sign up, then rarely, if ever, look at it again; I simply wanted to stop being pestered to join. But, my plan didn't work as I had anticipated. Once I joined and made a few "friends", I discovered that I actually liked it, and discovered that it had many more advantages for me than I could have imagined. However, I learned there are downsides too.
Reasons I Like Facebook
1. A closer connection to family and friends. I have a large, extended family and there is always something going on, but many times, I didn't hear about it for days. In some cases, the news came weeks, or even months later. For example, I have three relatives who got married last year. I knew about each marriage in advance, but what I might not have known yet is that all three of these marriages are already over. This is news I learned through Facebook, though it was not told to me directly by my relatives. Facebook has also brought me up to date on births, illnesses, jobs, local events, news reports, family gatherings and so much more. Plus, the chance to send a private message or chat with someone I probably wouldn't have had contact with otherwise.
2. The opportunity to see photos that I might never have seen otherwise. Not only do I see current pictures, but there are many old photos that I have never seen before. The ability to view previously unseen pictures of parents, siblings or whoever it happens to be, is priceless to me. I love sharing old photos of my family from my childhood years, which allows my numerous nieces and nephews to see what their parents looked like when they were children. These photos are usually a big hit with the young people. It's also a fun way to embarrass a sibling from time to time, all in good fun.
Recently, I've been sharing grade school newsletters and group pictures from early school years. These items have gotten so much attention, especially from the people who are in them, but also from others who just think they are entertaining. Many of the students don't even remember the newsletters or photos, so it's fun for them to go back in time and fun for me to share.
3. Reconnecting with old friends. Facebook has given me the opportunity to get reacquainted with long-lost friends, along with making new ones.There are dozens of people I have reconnected with that I haven't seen or talked to since I was a child, including former schoolmates, relatives and neighbors. Friendships have been reignited with people I thought were out of my life for good. This has brought me tremendous joy. I've become friends with former classmates that I didn't know well in school, but now we've been able to communicate online and get to know each other. Because I am shy, I've never attended a class reunion, but because I now know so many of my former classmates better than I did when I saw them daily, I would consider going to the next reunion. For me, that's a big change in attitude.
4. Receiving updates on news, television shows, bands, local events, store promotions and numerous other things. I am constantly updated about these things in the news feed, which is constantly changing and set to show me only the people and things I have chosen to see. I decide what I want to see, making my experience on Facebook a unique one, tailored just for me. The choices are endless, so I can get very involved, if that's my choice, or I can keep it small. The choice is totally mine. If I grow tired of getting too many updates on something, I can simply choose to hide the posts, or I can go back and "dislike" it and all updates stop completely.
5. The ability to choose my "friends" and control how much of my information is made public. I can choose to share with all, friends only, friends of friends, or customize exactly what I wish to share and who I will allow to view it.
6. The ability to send private messages. Not only can I post something on my "wall", but I can also contact people privately. I often use this for personal matters that everyone else doesn't need to know about. It's also a great way to contact several specific people at once. The only downside to this is when there is a mass mailing and someone replies to all, instead of just the person who sent it. Not only could that be embarrassing, it can be frustrating to keep getting every single reply that someone sends.
7. My Shared Reviewsarticles are posted, so they have a better chance of being seen. I've received many comments about reviews I've written by people who have only seen them on Facebook.
1. It is easy to spend more time there than intended. I've heard many other people say the same thing.
2. Remembering that anything I post can be seen by all the people I've allowed to become friends. If there's something I am unsure of, it's best not to post it. I can remove anything I post, but once it's out there, someone else could copy it and share it with others.
3. Private information is not always private. It's important to regularly check the Facebook privacy settings to make sure I am not letting everyone see my information and photos. Also, it is highly recommended that birthdays not be posted, or if they are, leave off the year, which is what I chose to do. Too much personal information can lead to identity theft. It's a good idea to check the Facebook settings often, as they sometimes get changed without notification. Recently, a more secure setting option has been made available.
There is a lot of discussion about whether children's photos should be posted or tagged with their names. Personally, I choose to tag mine, but if I ever feel uncomfortable about it, I can remove their names. There are predators everywhere and Facebook is no exception. If the privacy setting I choose is set so that anyone can view my page, then I'm exposing all the children's pictures and names to the world. I keep my privacy setting as "friends only" when it comes to photos. There is an option to customize all the settings, so I can choose which things I want to share and with whom, then limit it to whatever feels comfortable to me.
4. It's extremely important that vacations or other trips not be announced on Facebook. This is like putting a sign in front of a residence, saying "No One Home". It's an easy way to set yourself up for a burglary. Remember, there are many people who see what is posted and if some of them are people who aren't well known or trusted, that's not the kind of information that should be made public. I choose to save news about my trips until I am back home.
5. Monitor what children post on their Facebook profiles. Too many children post their phone number, e-mail address and other vital information for everyone to see. If they mention their school name or anything else that can identify where they are, a predator or stalker can easily find them. Of course, these same warnings go for adults, but few adults are as trusting as children. Teenagers, in particular, want to be extremely social and will "friend" anyone who asks and they are setting themselves up for disaster. I'm always watching my friends and relatives' posts to see if they are sharing too much information.
6. Viruses are a problem on Facebook, as they are everywhere else. These are often embedded in e-mail from a Facebook account. If there is a link to click on, it's best not to do it through the e-mail. I go to my Facebook page and then decide whether I want to click on it. For the most part, I won't unless I feel certain that it's safe. I've had several friends who have gotten viruses because they clicked on a link that had a virus attached. As with any other internet activity, it's important to consider the possible results of your actions.
7. Think before making a comment or posting a picture, whether it's a photo of yourself in a less than flattering situation, such as being drunk, or saying something negative about someone, especially an employer. These things can come back to haunt anyone who posts them. Colleges and businesses often use social networks to find out more about people and what is posted can have a profound effect on your life. It could cost someone a job, or a chance to get into college. If it's something that normally wouldn't be shared with the world any other way, then it shouldn't go on Facebook either.
There are far too many pros and cons of Facebook to list, so I've mentioned a few that are most important to me. Personally, I enjoy using it and for me, the pros outweigh the cons by a large margin. Each day, I learn something new and usually find something to laugh about, and that's always a good thing.
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