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Facebook's benefits make it worthwhile

Have you ever run into someone you haven't seen for a while and shared good news or sad news or just minutiae that came to mind because you were happy to reconnect with that person? As you parted ways, did you think about how great it would be to interact with that person more often? This is the essence of Facebook, but it's a whole lot more. I like to think of it as a "one-stop shop for all your interaction needs." For those of you who have been reluctant to give it a try, I present five reasons why I love Facebook:

1.) Reconnecting: People come and go throughout our lives, never to be seen or heard from again. Despite our best intentions, it's hard to keep in touch with more than a select group of friends due to our busy schedules. On Facebook, it's easy to find and keep in contact with people from your past, whether it's someone you met last week or a childhood friend from decades ago.

2.) Photographs: You can upload any kind of photo album (vacations are my favorite) and your friends can view them whenever they want. You don't have to provide a website to go to where your friends have to register, log on and then figure out how to navigate the site. Your photos are all in one place, easy to access, without leaving Facebook.

3.) Sharing positive news: Life is filled with joyous moments that are meant for sharing, and Facebook provides a perfect platform. It could be the birth of a child, a personal accomplishment at work; the list is endless. You'll be amazed at how many friends will appreciate you sharing the news by responding in a positive way.

4.) Sharing negative news: Recently my mother died and I wanted people to know. I decided that Facebook was the quickest and most efficient way to share this information. I was glad that I did, because I received more than 100 heartwarming responses that were very comforting. In addition, the funeral was in New York City and my Facebook friends who live there were able to attend.

5.) Sharing general information: Looking for a good book to read, or need to find a reliable plumber? These are the kinds of questions that send us to our favorite search engines. Facebook provides an alternative source of information: your friends. Why use an impersonal search engine when you can get a personal recommendation from someone you know?

There are other reasons to love Facebook, such as using it to wish someone a happy birthday, playing online games or promoting a business. Despite its advantages and versatility, many of you still have objections. You may say that you don't have the time, but it takes a minimal amount of time to enjoy the benefits, and we will make time for activities once we realize their benefits.

You may say that you don't want to share your personal information with people you don't know, but you decide who to accept as friends and you control what personal information they see.

You may say that you don't want to read about the minutiae in other people's lives, but aren't we all a little guilty of sharing minutiae in our daily conversations?

Now that you've read about some of the benefits of Facebook, I look forward to seeing you online. Please feel free to "friend" me, although I'll only accept friend requests from people I know.

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Alan Gellin, of Williamsville, is the assistant to the associate deans in the Graduate School of Education at the University at Buffalo.