If you’d asked me what I thought of Facebook nine months ago, I’d have given you a neutral opinion, though insisting on the fact that it was useful to share information, especially cultural: music, videos, news, and so on.
If you’d asked me what I thought of Facebook six months ago, I’d have told you it was useful for communication; I’d have described the platform as I would have talked about my smartphone, how incredibly handy it was when far away from your loved ones, how convenient and easy to use it was.
But now, after traveling for a significant amount of months, after moving for the third time to a different country; now, living in a place where internet is a more common occurrence than money, where getting a local phone number is harder than obtaining wifi passwords; now, when the majority of my closest friends don’t share the same first two digits with the ones of my latest phone number (Denmark is +45, if you were wondering), I can honestly say that Facebook is crucial to my communicating with others.
You’ve probably read it before: traveling, or simply moving to a foreign country, changes you on so many levels, and your use of social media is one of them. In our society, today, Facebook is a word that forms part of our global common knowledge. In Mexico, New Zealand, Morocco, Thailand, Canada, and so many other places – give or take a few countries like China, for example – people use Facebook, or at least know about it. Its use will differ from one country to the other, from one individual to the other, but one thing is for certain: people when meeting nowadays do not exchange phone numbers or e-mail addresses, let alone postal addresses: they will ask for your name on Facebook, or as I’ve recently experienced, put their phones into your hands for you to type in your name and add yourself to their Facebook accounts.
It is undeniable: the platform has changed and shaped the way we communicate considerably. It becomes a problem when you are not on Facebook – and I daresay among 30-year-olds and under, not because I think you are too old when the first digit of your age makes you boring and unaware of new technologies and all this, but simply from experience. You miss out on events of all kinds, photos of all kinds, videos, and major pieces of information; but more importantly, you miss out on communication.
All my friends use Facebook, family and grandma included (okay, she might be one of the few to dare do so), and I cannot imagine how sad I would be if it crashed down forever now. My friends, acquaintances and family members are all over the world, and I know I am not the only one. The truth is, when getting acquainted with new people, the vast majority of us get lazy: we know each other’s first names and sometimes consonant-made last names (don’t want that employer of yours checking up on you, do you), we can recognise faces on profile pictures, we are happy to see second cousins growing up but never take time to call or ask for news (I’ll give you that, it is high time it came back to normality – but then again, what is normality? Shouldn’t we adapt and make smart use of what’s in our hands today? Or did they use to call second cousins, before social media? Whoops, getting lost, we’ll leave that for another theoretical article).
But before changing (in case some of us are complaining), let’s be honest – what if Facebook were to crash down and make it all go now, today, tomorrow? How would you get in touch with that guy you met on the plane, how would you ask how this girl is doing after a few months of traveling around Europe, how would you let your Mexican friend know you’re coming to visit? How about these people you can’t really call your friends, but who you care about anyway, how would you get in touch with them? How would you react if you couldn’t?
Ps. This is a very dear subject to my heart, even more so because yesterday, a friend I met in New Zealand was spending a few hours in Copenhagen, where I now live. I cherished those hours we spent together and would never have had the opportunity to do so if it wasn’t for Facebook. From the bottom of my heart, thank you Mark Zuckerberg and all of you guys who work on an everyday basis at making global communication possible – and a major input into our daily lives.