Sara's Column: Facebook great at helping people find old friends

Last month, my mom moved back to Middle Tennessee after living in South Carolina for a few years. Because she’d been out of the area for a while, she doesn’t know many people here. Recently she discovered, though, that an old friend of hers lives in Lebanon. They had got...
Jul 11, 2013
 Photo: Submitted to The Democrat

Lebanon's Ed Boland and Sandy Barber meet in Lebanon July 7 after more than 40 years.

Last month, my mom moved back to Middle Tennessee after living in South Carolina for a few years.

Because she’d been out of the area for a while, she doesn’t know many people here. Recently she discovered, though, that an old friend of hers lives in Lebanon.

They had gotten back in touch through Facebook.

So last weekend, I brought her into town from The Boro so she could meet up with him.

The gentleman, Ed, grew up about five houses down from hers, and they went to school together from kindergarten through high school.

Now here’s the pretty cool part – they grew up in a small town in New York, just south of the border from Canada. About 1,200 miles from Lebanon.

Last Sunday was the first time they had seen each other in more than 40 years.

Their experience perfectly illustrates one of Facebook’s best qualities – the power to reconnect friendships thought long lost through time and distance.

I think, a lot of times, Facebook gets a bum rap.

Heck, I’m guilty. I’ve been ready to close up shop on Facebook multiple times. I have concerns about privacy aspects with the site, and I wonder at times if it sometimes tends more to create a disconnect. Let’s face it, you have a lot more control over the persona you present on Facebook than the one you present face-to-face, and I think it’s harder to connect with people when all you see is their glossed-over versions.

I see now, though, that Facebook is just a tool. And like any other tool, it can be immensely valuable if used properly or it can be immensely harmful if used improperly.

I don’t think it can ever fully replace some of the more traditional means of communication. One of my best friends lives in Ohio. Sure, we communicate on Facebook a lot, but we also talk on the phone frequently.

Facebook doesn’t do too well in conveying inflection; plus, with as long as some of our phone conversations are, our fingers would probably seize up from all the typing.

Thanks to cell phones, Skype, email, Facebook, Twitter, carrier pigeons, etc., we have a whole slew of means for communication. Each type has its strengths, and each type has its weaknesses.

As my mom and Ed showed me, Facebook works great for finding old friends.

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