"I LOVE MY COMPUTER because my friends live in it."
So says the e-bumper sticker electronically affixed to a friend’s profile on Facebook.
If the house was on fire, I’d rescue two overflowing Rolodex files filled with data on scattered cousins and former colleagues.
But it’s through Facebook that I’ve caught up on what Caity Cogdell has been up to since graduating from University of Georgia earlier this year. The Savannah Arts Academy alumna is halfway through a nine week stay in French Guiana, teaching children, participating in an African drumming group, and reading Jane Austen’s Emma while battling mosquitoes.
Former Savannah Morning News writer Hermione Malone left town for Cleveland in 2003, but thanks to Facebook we stay in better contact now than we did during the first three or so years she was gone.
Closer to home, Brynn Grant of The Creative Coast Alliance notes on her profile that she’s nearly finished with a time consuming home improvement project. Paul Nurnberg, commercial photographer, turns out to be an avid reader whose top rated books range from bestselling fiction (The Lovely Bones) to the genre-bending Einstein’s Dreams.
Nurnberg uses Facebook’s Visual Bookshelf to share his reading preferences. So far I prefer Good Reads, which uses a friends-invitation system similar to Facebook’s to allow bibliophiles a vehicle for linking up and comparing notes.
Through Good Reads I’m up to date on former Savannah photographer Ben Beasley, who moved to Decatur last fall, on a summer reading binge of Erskine Caldwell novels that’s tempered with the latest David Sedaris collection.
Is it necessary or appropriate for a Baby Boomer to network using a medium favored by teenagers? Once in a while I run across a profile with a familiar last name, only to realize that the poster with 437 Facebook Friends is the offspring of a high school classmate.
Yet it turns out that many of my favorite Baby Boomers, or older, have found their way to Facebook. My favorite profile photo is one of a white-haired writer/retired English professor I know, up to her chin in her bubble bath and sporting a yellow flower in her hair.
Then there is the double-edged sword of the internet —does the computer bring us closer together or does it further isolate us?
In the last three months, through a long-forgotten profile posted years ago on LinkedIn, I’ve reconnected with two former employees. Former Hannah Banana Books staffer Kate Conroy is a mover and shaker with a New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, and former city planner Bill Compton now holds a similar planning post in the Florida panhandle.
Yet during the same weeks I was corresponding with Kate and Bill, I exchanged reading suggestions via Good Reads with Clare Ellis, a teacher at Country Day. It appears that Clare and I have similar reading tastes, but perhaps it wasn’t necessary to find this out online, since Clare and her husband live across the street from me. Why did we need the internet to explore a conversation in books?
Instead of pondering that too long, I’ll hit the web one more time. Thanks to oldfriends.co.nz, I reconnected with a schoolmate from Blenheim, New Zealand.
In a few mouse clicks, I was corresponding with Andrew Munro, formerly of the senior class of 1979 at Marlborough Boys College, now a physician (and a grandfather) in Australia. His note was filled with information about our little posse, lost friends fondly remembered from my senior year abroad in the once-tiny New Zealand town.
It’s been six months, so a note to Andrew is long overdue. Then maybe I’ll check Clare’s profile and find out what she’s reading. Or, if the power goes out, perhaps I’ll walk across the street and see for myself.