13 March 2010

Power to the Facebook

It's a new medium and I'm watching, and participating, with fascination. I joined FB some time ago, but only really started going on it regularly when I came down with "the itis" last fall and went on medical leave, and for a couple of months it was one of my only links to the world.

But I'm back to work, and recovering, and finding much value in the ability to connect with friends around the world. There's the passive activity of reading status updates and the kind of creepy reading of people's walls, which feels kind of like stalking, but then there are also more active exchanges that occur in comments on status updates as well as through direct messages.

There are funny coincidences, like when two people I know who live on opposite sides of the country and don't (I'm pretty sure) know each other all show up in the same bit of news saying that they've both become fans of the same group (in the most recent case, "Let Constance Take Her Girlfriend To Prom").

There's also, at least for me, a possible slight drift toward center, because the people I went to high school with are on various locations on the political spectrum. When I don't know people with completely different views from my own, it's easy to dismiss them as cranks and their ideas as unworthy of consideration, but when I do, there's more motivation to take a moment to be respectful.

I'd be very interested to know if others have experienced this, because if Facebook can do that, it could be a very interesting corrective to the corrosively polarized nature of politics around the US today.

Facebook might turn out to be another fad, but it might turn out, like email, to be a lasting way in which we communicate. I'll be watching with interest to see if it actually changes the nature of communication.