June 4, 2013

The Family Network

How Facebook has become useful to me again

Love it or hate it, Facebook still has one thing that no other social network has - your family. I’m not just referring to your immediate family. What about all those aunts, uncles, and cousins? Do they all tweet or blog or pin? I doubt it, but I bet they are on Facebook.

Of all things, my work introduced me to Facebook in 2007. My company completed one of the first Facebook applications for the launch of Facebook pages that fall. I opened up my Facebook account to prepare for the project and did what most people did - friended” everyone I could find. Since then, I’ve deactivated my Facebook account at least twice, maybe three times for reasons that are documented ad nasuem in countless What I hate/left Facebook” posts. The bottom line is that I don’t want to use Facebook to stay in touch with real friends. I prefer other methods.

But, I’m on it again though and family is the reason.

When my father was growing up, his extended family was his immediate family. He lived with a couple of his cousins. They all grew up in the same or nearby neighborhoods in north Jersey. Then parts of the family started to move away. During my generation, the family was based in Florida, North Carolina, and Jersey. Still though, we would take the station wagon up I-95 every summer to be with my aunts, uncles, and cousins for weeks at the Jersey shore. Those summers are some of my fondest memories growing up.

Then I went off to college and drifted apart from my extended family. That was twenty years ago. There is a whole new generation now and my kids only see my cousin’s kids at weddings and funerals. They don’t even know who they are. That close bond that existed within the extended family during my Dad’s generation no longer exists, but my desire to have one still does.

Enter Facebook. Like everyone else, my family members started to join. They eventually became the only reason why I checked Facebook, but I still hated it. Updates from my family would get lost among the 350 friends” and hundreds of pages I liked. I tried fiddling with filters and settings and preferences, but I just didn’t have time to constantly tweak my Facebook account. So that’s when I decided to unfriend and unlike everyone and everything that wasn’t family. That left me with 22 friends and nothing liked. Now I don’t miss an update from my family. Granted, there are only a few a day, but they all have meaning. All the noise generated by friending 350 people and 200 pages is gone and the bond with my extended family is starting to grow again. On top of that, I can’t get this information anywhere else. All thanks to the social network I love to hate.


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Off The Road Like many, I grew up taking Griswold family-style vacations. Our route typically covered I-95 from Northern Florida to the Jersey Shore and