If God hadn’t invented Facebook, I’m not sure I could be a stay-at-home mom. Honestly, I’m a social creature by nature. Quiet days at home with my son and no adult interaction with the rest of the world are the TOUGHEST! I grew up in a tiny town with a Dairy Queen and a McDonalds. I’ve had enough isolation to last me the rest of my life. I’ve even been known to follow television shows and movies, NOT because I enjoyed them in any way, but just for the benefit of the water cooler style chatter I knew my knowledge would garnish me later. Now that home IS my workplace, Facebook is my water cooler!
In case you haven’t heard…
Speaking of water cooler chit chat, guess what I just heard?! Social networks are HOT right now… I mean, they HAVE been since the days Facebook stopped requiring us to use a .edu email address, but this week everyone has been abuzz about what the future of social networking may look like.
In a case of life imitating art, THE Justin Timberlake has decided that, not only is he bringing sexy back, but bringing MySpace back as well?! His plans to revamp the internet’s most notorious ghost town is interesting, to say the least. I just imagine him saying, “We should leave off the ‘My’. It’s sexier!”
And then there’s Google+. I’m proud to say I made the third or fourth round of invites after its launch. (You can follow my public updates: Mac Fife!) The best way I’ve heard it described is “It’s not Facebook!” It’s actually a sort of hybrid of Facebook and Twitter. Word isn’t out yet over whether or not these services will have to die for Google+ to survive, but I sure hope they do. Google+ offers a seriously awesome structure that puts your contacts into “Circles”. They make it so clean and simple for me to share a status with ONLY my “Church Friends” circle, or with only my “Family” and “Friends” circles, or with only my “Embarrasing Diarrhea Stories” circle. (And in case you were wondering, nobody knows what circles you’ve put your contacts in. The possibilities are endless!)
And, as if THAT doesn’t make you want to update your status, a Gatorade guzzling Mark Zuckerberg also had to announce this week that Skype is coming to Facebook. As someone that hates talking on the phone, this is unnerving at first. In my opinion, video chat is something to be reserved for military families and long distance grandparents. However, I’m always curious to see how these technological developments tend to change our culture at large!
Don’t be Hatin’!
When Facebook was a new, up and coming phenomenon, we were delighted to have a website that catered to our real life relationships. Now that they’re one of the big dogs, few websites are more vilified! Apparently, Facebook is not just a time waster, it’s also “stealing all our personal information”, “invading our privacy”, and finally “rendering us incapable of real life interactions with human beings”.
While I smirk at the irony of the world’s largest social network making us hopelessly anti-social, I can’t help but disagree. As a late adopter, I waited for a cross country move to give up my old Xanga blog and explore this ripe social infrastructure. The best I’d hoped for was a simple way to integrate and stay connected as I, and friends like me, continued to scatter across the country. What I didn’t realize was what a great tool Facebook would become to aid me in my quest for newer, more local friendships.
There’s nothing like meeting a new person, then going home to see they’ve added you as their “friend”. Browsing through recent status updates can let you know they have a sick grandmother they visit every Friday, they’re obsessed with Pomplamoose, and their favorite food is Chipotle. Okay, it’s rare to find Facebook friends with such awesome taste, but when you do, this makes it that much easier is it to say, “Hey, there’s a couple Pomplamoose concerts this weekend! Wanna meet up at Chipotle and hit the Saturday show?”
Or even if you run into someone that’s not half as neat, next time you see them in person, you suddenly have a great springboard to get to know them better: “So, I saw on Facebook that you’re remodeling your kitchen? How’s your family holding up?!”
While Zuckerberg was still helping the Winklevoss twins with Harvard Connect, my husband and I were two shy 19 year olds without a clue how to approach and woo the opposite sex. Lucky for us, there was a piece of antiquated technology called AOL Instant Messenger to assuage our initial shyness. I often wonder how we would have made it through those first awkward weeks of dating (where everything sounds stupid when you say it out-loud), without this little miracle of computer science!
So, how can I use it…
That’s right, Facebook is an amazing tool! There’s a reason we Stay-at-Home Moms have garnered the unflattering stereotype of lazy little women in sweats and curlers that play Farmville all day while the kids watch Disney Channel. I will neither confirm or deny whether that image ever applies in my household, but I will say what all SAHM’s know: Facebook can be an incredible tool!
Struggling with diaper rash? Post a status update and within an hour you should have several viable solutions! Need to unload some household or baby gear? Forget Freecycle.com! Post it up on Facebook and find a friend who’ll give the items second life. (Nearly scored a race car bed for my boy just this week!) Need a good recipe for your next picnic? Someone will suggest something tried and true! Facebook is great place for us domestic engineers to share ideas and talk shop.
Even companies and organizations can add value to your Facebooking experience. Having trouble with your housework? Turn it into a game when you Like “FlyLady Bingo”. Need some great recipes for a cheap protein? Like “Incredible Edible Egg” and see the tasty temptations they suggest! Want to stay abreast of the latest coupon deals? Like “Hip2Save”. Plenty of businesses and organizations are right there, ready and willing to give you the hook up with great information… right on your Facebook feed! (Don’t forget to like “4SmartyPants” while you’re at it!)
I realize you’re probably taking on a totally different role in your life than me, but with a bit of creativity and networking, (and maybe NOT posting those unflattering party pictures that keep you from friending your collegues), Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ can contribute to your productivity and inherent need for the water cooler, no matter what profession you find yourself in!