You were expecting something very sentimental weren’t you? I mean after writing about my body and my Girls, why would I choose Facebook to be thankful for? A social networking tool that some people hate and other people don’t even use? Really? Even though it is frustrating most of the time because of the constant changes and glitches?
Yes, I love Facebook and I am proud to stand up and be thankful for it.
The thing is, I am not thankful because it is a fluffy diversion that steals a lot of my time. It is that-all of that. But that is not why I am thankful.
I am thankful because my joy and my energy comes (always has) from other people. I love people’s stories. I love knowing what makes them tick. Over the years, I have always surrounded myself with people of all shapes, sizes, ages, backgrounds etc. Maybe I am just nosey. I like to think of it as interested. Whatever you call it, I love to immerse myself in the details of other people’s lives.
When I became a parent and when we started our Serial Mover gig, it became harder and harder to keep everyone close to me. Friends grow and get busy and calling, writing or seeing each other becomes near impossible. And that is just the group we can call really good friends. The people that pass in and out of our lives as acquaintances, neighbors, students or coworkers are even harder to keep up with. The may send holiday cards at first, but with our address changing every three years, who can blame them for giving up?
Then came Facebook.
Every night (or day if I’m stuck in traffic with my phone) I can see how my “kids” are doing. They are all freshmen in college now, but once upon a time, long ago they were my eighth graders. Yes, mine-each and every one. They had no idea, but they happened to be my class when I needed them most. At home, our life felt like it was falling apart (job loss-new baby, dying mother) and every day I went to school and they gave me six hours of joy. There were 105 of them and I loved each one. They were funny. They were irreverent. They were full of love. Some had more faith in their little fingers than most adults I know. Some needed me for the daily crisis they were living through. They gave me perspective. They took care of me. In all of their self-centered edge-of-new-life junior-high drama, they found time to make me smile. These people are huge to me. Sometimes when I toy with going back to teaching my husband reminds me I don’t miss teaching-I miss my St. Mary’s 8th graders. He’s right. I have wondered where they ended up. When I moved away, I accepted I may never know about them again. Then, I got a friend request on FB that allowed me into the life of one of them. Then another, and another. I have loved seeing their silly pictures, many that include a few of them that are still friends. I have loved hearing about college. They don’t have time to catch up with an old teacher, but the do have time to let me into their life via FB update and for that I am thankful.
Facebook also gives me daily access to faraway cousins and aunts and uncles. I have “met” friends from 5th grade. My son totally idolizes a boy I went to elementary school with because he caught a picture of him in full camo and an automatic rifle. The Boy thought it was great that I knew a real-life super hero. He would never see this man otherwise. And he is a great man. I am thrilled to “know” him again. My old neighbors-we had our first babies together-they’re back and there are more kids and I love it! I even got together, in real life, with some high school pals that I hadn’t seen since our reunion all those years ago, all because we communicated via Facebook.
When we moved to New Jersey from Mayberry, it was made a little easier knowing I could still see the kids on the block grow up and see pictures of the July 4th parade. My Woodmoor neighbors were my village and I get to keep them close-via the interweb. The added bonus is that two of them make me laugh to the point of tears almost every day-one with his hilarious take on the world, and one with her updates on her colorful kids.
I feel like I know and will continue to know these people, my cousins and school friends, students, and neighbors, coworkers and their kids and pets and sometimes their house floor plans! I feel like I know them even if the fact is we may never lay eyes on each other again. We certainly wouldn’t be in communication if not for FB. The lives I read about on FB are so much more real than holiday cards summaries which don’t even always come.
So, mock me if you want. Call me crazy for being thankful for something that seems juvenile and extraneous. Tell me it is nothing but a fluffy, voyeuristic diversion. It doesn’t matter what you think, the truth is, I am thankful for Facebook because of all the people it keeps in my life.
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