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Why I’m friends with Facebook

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With the release of The Social Network, a film about the founders of Facebook, we’re looking at its pros and cons. For me, it provides a valuable way to stay in touch with friends, and even make new ones.

While at university I’d often drop by my pigeonhole to find a practical joke left by a close friend. At the end of our degree he left me a copy of his lifetime’s collection of bad jokes.

He’s one of the main reasons I visit my Facebook account every day. His humorous posts are exactly what I need to unwind after a hard day’s work. I can also guarantee that another uni friend will have commented on his post.

These evening chats take me back to days where we discussed such high-brow topics as the dubious plot flaws in Eastenders and who’d got the worst hangover.

A trip down memory lane

Many of my Facebook ‘friends’ are journalists I’ve worked with over the past 13 years but rarely see. It’s great to be able to see where they’re working, who’s married and who has kids.

Others are people I haven’t clapped eyes on for even longer, as they date back to my secondary – and even primary – school days. Still, it’s good to see what they’re up to and I’ve even chatted to a couple using Facebook’s Instant Messaging facility.

This nostalgia factor keeps me hooked on Facebook in the same way that I was previously addicted to Friends Reunited. Then Facebook came along with its friendlier, and free, interface and my old social networking buddy was ditched.

A friend with flaws

Sure, there are elements of the site I could live without. I’m sick of friends poking me and offering me various imaginary pets for imaginary zoos I have no interest in creating.

Nor am I blind to the various security risks that the social network presents. Barely, a day goes by that I don’t receive a press release warning me of a rogue Facebook application or scam.

Sophos, for example, recently warned of a ‘hilarious video’ doing the rounds on Facebook. The video claimed to show an anaconda eating a hippo, but by agreeing to view it you actually gave the Facebook application permission to post anything it wished on your Facebook wall; imagine the ramifications!

But these are minor bugbears compared to the value of being able to keep in touch with friends old and new, family and acquaintances. But am I a fan of Facebook? Most definitely.

David Fincher’s Facebook film The Social Network is out in cinemas today, does it take your fancy? And make sure you come back on Monday to read the other side of the social networking story in Al Warman’s ‘Why I’m fed up with Facebook’.

Are you a fan of Facebook?

No - it's a waste of time (75%, 305 Votes)

Yes - it helps me keep in touch with friends (25%, 101 Votes)

Total Voters: 406

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Frankly – I find it a waste of time – Individuals send me personal e-mails and have done effectively since 1981 though bulletin boards.and onwards – I get various useful advertising e-mails from companies I know that produce items I want to buy. I belong to various forums – either general or specific.

I do not want to have to answer e-mails from Facebook too – There has already been about 60 people who want me to be their “friends” on it –

I already get over 140 e-mails daily – that with the forums is enough

Sophie Gilbert says:
4 October 2010

To cut a long story short I joined Facebook because a good friend of mine invited a few of us to join it so that we could see her holiday photos. It seemed like a reasonable idea at the time (never mind the fact that there are much better ways to share holiday snaps!) so I agreed. Subsequently numerous people, eg former or current colleagues, invited me to become their Facebook “friends” and I agreed, more out of politeness than anything, although I felt flattered to appear to be so popular. I also invited my own nephews to be my Facebook “friends” because they live far away and I thought it would be a good way not to be too much of a stranger to them.

My experience of Facebook has been that most of the posts have been in turn inane, offensive, banal, exhibitionistic, annoying, or all of the above, and this morning I deleted my account. I have other means to keep in touch with my real friends. One of them is called the telephone, the other snail mail, and the other email. I find that I don’t need a fourth one, and I’m glad to be shot of the utter nonsense that Facebook represents.

I joined Facebook some time ago to keep in touch with a friend who moved across to the Netherlands and this was a good way of keeping up with her. Since then i have made lots of other friends. Admittedly Facebook can be a pain there are lots of flaws on it by getting the wrong people on your page if your not very careful and Facebook itself has lots of issues like freezing and sometimes not posting your post or sending a message which can be annoying. Also my husband is severly disabled and at times can be bedbound and i am his full time carer so when he his in this condition this service can be a godsend to me as company when i can’t get out.

Sophie Gilbert says:
7 October 2010

In what way is a security risk a minor bugbear?

I think it all rather depends on what you use Facebook for. Personally, I’ve got better things to do with my time than become a zombie or be involved in Mafia wars or purchase free pigs on a fictitious farm whilst working out what sort of dog I am.

But on the other hand it enables me to keep in touch with a lot of people very efficiently. Is there harm in that? I can share the same news, updates and photos once with many people. It allows me to keep in touch with people in far off places or people I don’t see often. People who once may have received a Christmas card with the promise to write more often can now see what I’ve been up to without me even having to pen this in a letter. Because isn’t that what people write about?

Friends of mine can read my opinions, share my music tastes and engage in conversations where we have common interest (or choose not to!). And in return I’ve learnt even more about them and their interests. Best of all we can share banter. And I can share this with more than one person, whilst spending no more than a just a few minutes of my life each day or week. It hasn’t stopped me sending Christmas cards or using the phone occasionally or writing the odd letter. More importantly, it certainly hasn’t stopped me going out. But even I don’t go out every night or spend my whole evening on the phone.

Nobody’s saying you have to ditch any other form of comms in order to use Facebook. Online communication is just another method of staying in touch. People probably complained when the telegraph was invented, and then the telephone, and then email. It’s all down to how you use it and what you use it for.

fat sam: We know you as a blobfish. I cannot envisage you as a zombie, or a dog.