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Larry Schiro: Seeing some old faces satisfies my curiosity

Social media, specifically Facebook, for good or bad, has invaded my life. I have been trying for over a year to figure out if Facebook is worth the time and energy that it requires to be actively engaged. It seems that many face-to-face conversations start with or now include “While on Facebook, I …” or “are you on Facebook?” It seems as if you don’t “do” Facebook, you are a social misfit today.

In the Facebook world, everyone is a Friend. Before I go further, I must clarify the difference between a friend and a Friend. A friend is a person you knew before Facebook came along. A Friend is a person you became Friends with through Facebook. One can be both a friend and a Friend, meaning you knew the person before Facebook and connected to him through Facebook. Sound confusing? Not really.

Through Facebook, I have connected with friends I had lost touch with long ago. Some are old friends I knew in my youth, others I went to school with and even some relatives I have had very little contact with over the years. They are now Friends and friends.

In the Facebook world, you are Friends with everyone. Your brother or old neighborhood buddies are all on equal footing. There are many Facebook Friends whom I would have likely never heard from again without Facebook as a communication tool. I guess I am grateful for that.

Facebook has satisfied my curiosity about what has happened to these long-forgotten friends with whom I spent so much of my youth. We had so much in common back then, but the years that have elapsed have made us near strangers. Our lives went in so many different directions. I remember them as young kids leaping after a line drive or making a layup in a pickup basketball game.

These Friends post pictures of themselves as they look today. Can they be the same guys I hung around with and played ball with so many years ago? They are old men in those pictures.

Can time really have created those old people? They look like my grandfather. No way could they have leaped after a line drive and turned a double play, or made a layup in our basketball game.

Then they post pictures of themselves in their youth and, sure enough, they are the same guys with whom I grew up, went to school and spent hours arguing about baseball and playing basketball.

They also post pictures of their children and grandchildren. They share stories of family events, marriages and the deaths of their parents; sometimes, even their spouses.

Facebook has not been all bad. I have become as curious about Friends as I am sure they are of me. It is entertaining and, by keeping it in perspective, fairly harmless. I have heard that Facebook has given some Friends a forum to reconnect with long-lost loves. I am not sure that is always a positive thing, but for some, it has been good.

I look back and wonder how my grandparents would have fared if they had Facebook 100 years ago. When my grandfather left Sicily at age 25, near as I know, he never had much, if any, communication with his parents for the rest of his life.

Our world is a lot smaller because of Facebook. I can’t imagine life today or tomorrow without social media.