I don't know why everyone's gotta hate on Facebook all the time. I mean, sure, it can be a time suck and a gateway to adultery and an awkward forum for family feuds. Yes, it's irritating when people confuse it with Pinterest or insist on re-posting grammatically egregious and broadly stereotyping statements about life or relationships. But these things aside, Facebook has its merits. So many merits, in fact, that I'm going to put myself out there and say that I like Facebook.
And this is why:
It actually helps me connect.
Facebook makes it possible for me to know when someone in my neighborhood is sick, or just birthed a child, or had an embarrassing incident with their kid at the grocery store that I can SO relate to. When you're running into acquaintances and casual friends in the real world, and you exchange pleasantries, there's not usually time or context to remark that you're trying to be better about gardening or that you thought it was so cute when your kid fell asleep while eating dinner last night or that it was so awesome when your husband surprised you with flowers or that you think Obamacare is the best thing that has happened to America in a long time or that your dad just developed a weird rash under his left elbow and you're worried it might be something serious. But that is JUST the sort of content that shows up on Facebook. And that content provides little glimpses into who people are, what's important to them, what's going on in their lives, and how they perceive themselves. It's way more meaningful than, "Hey! How are you?" "I'm fine! How are you?" "Good! How's work?" "Good! How are your kids?" In fact, Facebook makes it possible for you to extend these real-life conversations into more meaningful territory. Whereas in Before-Facebook Land, after exchanging greetings you might stand awkwardly for a moment and then be like, "Well, it was good to see you! Bye!", now you can say, "I saw on Facebook that your kid threw up on you during dinner when you had company! That has totally happened to me, too. So embarrassing. Are you guys sick? Can I bring you some chicken soup or Gatorade?" It opens the door to real conversations. Real connection. And real service.
Facebook has also helped me connect with friends I've made along the way, to keep tabs on what they're doing and where they're at. And it has helped me connect with cousins on both sides of the family, helped me keep track of what they're doing, where they're living, the work they're doing, and how big their kids have gotten.