I am a big fan of Facebook. Even when it has caused me pain, or I have had to cause pain to others, I am still in awe of the power of this particular social media platform. The brainchild of two Harvard Upper Crust Twins and a guy who once just "this" shy of being a complete social outcast has opened up the world for people, given them something to do, reconnected them with old friends and helped them go deeper into their Faith Tradition.
It is a fantastic thing.
Today I was struck by the incredible connection I have made with people in some of the groups to which I belong. I am a member of a Scottish Terrier Owners group (though I am still mourning the loss of my Duffy and have not yet replaced him), a couple of San Francisco Forty-Niner Faithful groups, some Catholic groups, a fitness for us older women group, a group that dissects my favorite zombie show and a group of Italian Americans.
Everyone of those groups has welcomed me with love, open arms, acceptance and kindness.
The 12 Step groups?
Hmmmm....not so much.
To be fair, the local ones are pretty great. They almost have to be, of course, because we see each other at meetings and we do want to make sure we are walking our talk, especially on line. Oh sure, I recently had to block a member but he is young, very angry at me and thinks he knows everything so it is no loss to either of us. Trust me, he is better off without me in his life and I know I am in great shape since not having to look at his weirdly self conscious postings.
I tried to participate in a big international 12 Step group on Facebook and it just got out of hand. People seemed bound and determined to prove what a sober bad ass they are and God forbid you posted something that was framed as 'it has been my experience'. The minute you do the Super Sober Step Police would jump on the poster with all four feet. I did not participate a lot - I just read the posts and quite frankly, these types were just too Alpha Male for me (and that included the women).
The group that has really touched my heart lately is one based on where I grew up as a child. I have to admit I lived in an almost magical place - the suburbs of the 1950's and 1960's where children were more likely to have a run in with a cow or a bobcat than a pedophile or a meth freak with an insatiable desire to find out what it feels like to put their penis in the ear of a six month old child. We were of different faiths, mostly white and Hispanic and had, for the most part, intact families. I know I was the first child of divorce in my neighborhood and in typical fashion everyone took my Mom's side but all the women were afraid their husbands would hit on her. She carried herself with such incredible grace and dignity, however, that their fear soon abated. I was raised with everyone's mother looking out for me and for that I am extremely grateful.
Through the Italian American group I have found a fun and loving group of men and women who share my values, my Faith Tradition (mostly) and my love for connection to my Italian roots. They are good people...and I have never met any of them face-to-face.
Through the Scottish Terrier group I have connected with someone who may have a dog for me to adopt.
Through my Catholic groups I have learned more and more about the Early Church Fathers and been able to help orphans in Nigeria and India.
I have helped my nephew raise money for football gloves for his team and I have been able to see my baby cousins who live WAAAAAAAY across the country grow from wee tots to little people with marvelous personalities.
All in all, I have enjoyed Facebook.
No one can predict, of course, what will happen in their life. I have lost and gained much over the past 59 years on this planet and I expect this will continue. I am, however, incredibly encouraged by my experience with Facebook. I am encouraged because I see what good can come from being responsibly active on Social Media. I am encouraged because I see what happens when people make the conscious decision to do good rather than evil, to bring God into every part of their life.
To my surprise, I am finding a family on Facebook.....and that cannot be a bad thing.