First off, I don't want to imply that college students aren't "grownups." But I can't think of a shorter term for "those of us who aren't in college anymore but still might want to find out what the buzz is about this Facebook stuff."
So there it is.
I first heard of Facebook from my younger sister, Kaitlyn, when she was in her first year of college at BYU. Then one day, about a year later, I received my first "invite" to Facebook from our beloved Laurie, or the creator of the "Hip Homemaker" herself. I resisted, as I figured the last thing I needed was more "group e-mails" or access to more internet message boards.
Finally one day, half on a whim, and half because my niece Emily was also now away at college, on Facebook, and claimed to be posting photos...
I gave in and joined.
It's now one of my favorite websites.
(If you don't already belong, you can find it here: http://www.facebook.com/index.php? )
Now be warned: it is possible, especially as the months tick by, to join Facebook and, though not meaning to add any "applications," and then once you've begun adding friends, to start accepting invitations from your friends and little by little feel overwhelmed. So here is my guide to keeping Facebook simple:
1. If you receive an invitation to Facebook itself, don't be afraid of it. You can easily opt to keep your profile (and information) viewable only to your friends.
2. You don't have to accept invitations to applications if you don't want to. If you keep the number small, Facebook makes them pretty easy to keep track of on your own "applications" page.
3. Facebook is a social networking site, but it isn't geared towards dating. To be sure, there are applications on it that can be used for such; but they're by far only a very small part of what's offered there.
4. Individual photo albums make it easy to keep up with what friends and family are up to, even if they're far away. And you *don't* need to upload anything, yourself, to be able to view others' photos, as long as you're on their friend's list and they've chosen the option for "all friends" on their own profile news and photo options.
5. There are groups you can join on Facebook, only if you want to, geared towards just about any interest you can imagine. Through some of these groups I've been able to find friends I made in France in 1993 and 1994; friends from high school and elementary school; political groups (but no arguments allowed here on the HH) ;-) : and groups for two new "modest clothing" magazines, one in print and one online. (I'll write more about those later. If you have an interest in modest clothing, you'll be pleasantly surprised at all the resources you can find through Eliza and Jen magazines.)
Of particular note: none of the "old friends" I found on Facebook was "unwilling to be found," so to speak. Your privacy options allow you to be "found" (name and your chosen profile photo only) solely by the groups you choose to allow. You can even choose to remain completely invisible, or not viewable in searches of any kind.
6. My favorite part of Facebook: an application called "We're Related."
Once I've found family members on Facebook, I'm then able to keep track of their birthdays and profile updates through this application. My cousins and siblings and nieces and nephews can then also contact each other if they wish; again, only if their chosen privacy settings allow their profiles to be "found" or seen. It also gives me a way to contact them all at once, easily, in if I need to.
7. My most recent find: a former roommate from college from South Africa. We'd gotten out of touch, and I hadn't been able to speak with her in over ten years. Now, thanks to Facebook, I'm browsing through photos of her daughter's first birthday from thousands of miles away. I realize that this sort of thing is becoming, in some ways, so "ho hum...more of the internet age." But seeing those photos posted yesterday on her profile gave me pause.
As long as I keep things simple on Facebook, I've found that it can possibly be, after e-mail, my most valuable tool on the internet.
8. Now, if someone can just explain to me why the video of my son's solo in a school play won't upload to my profile, my day will truly be complete. ;-)
9. Last, but not least, as another example of what you can find there, one of the most recent groups I joined: someone I knew in high school sent me an invite to a group she'd helped to start recently. It's called "Movies You Enjoyed To Watch (And Would Even Recommend It To Your Priest)." (Which could also be Pastor, Rabbi, Bishop, parents, etc. of course.) It only has 30+ members at present, but I already feel like I've found a wealth of excellent movie options for both myself and my kids to watch, through this simple idea of "join a group and share ideas." There are currently 10 conversations going on in the group about different movie recommendations, ranging from Hollywood blockbusters to foreign films and films for children.
If you have an area of interest you want to talk with others about, it's probably on Facebook somewhere. If not, you can start a group yourself.
I hope this this has helped someone to become a bit less scared of Facebook. I now seem to know more about the daily happenings of my niece and little sister than I did when they lived just twenty miles away! It seems like every month, other friends of mine who once resisted Facebook are now joining. For someone like me, who has lived in seven different places during the last eighteen years, it's been the perfect way to keep up with friends and family who now live all over the globe.
mom of 2
Orange County, CA