Last week Facebook informed me that one of my “friends” was having a birthday. That friend was my father. We’ve been friends for awhile now, I guess our friendship really bloomed when he drove me home as a newborn from the hospital.
With his brand new iPad for Christmas, my father became the final member of my immediate family to enter the world of Facebook. Or as he refers to it “The Facebook”. Occasionally I’ll mention an event and he’ll say “oh yes, your mother showed me the pictures on The Facebook“.
He’ll be using his iPad mostly to read the newspaper. For the past 50 years he’s had a choice between the daily tabloid which is printed in a city 300 kms away and a twice weekly local newspaper. He will now move to a virtual explosion of icons and app subscriptions. In the palm of his hand will be hundreds of links to literally thousands of stories, newspapers from all over the world. As a bloke who has spent his entire life living in a rural community in South Australia, technology has made the world a shed load smaller. I can’t imagine him ever giving up the local paper (I still read it myself) but I can definitely see some additions to his reading.
It was late 2005 when I signed up for Facebook, our relationship has changed a lot over the years. It began as a way of keeping in contact with friends on the other side of the world and sharing photos of our kids with my family. When I went back to work it was used as a recruiting tool, and then it became all about sharing and receiving information. What I enjoy the most about Facebook now is the links, the information that gets forwarded, the jokes that are made and the insight provided perhaps from a complete stranger. I can choose to ignore or choose to read, but it’s my choice. In the past fifteen minutes I’ve read why I shouldn’t text and walk, watched the worlds coolest flight attendant, and seen a picture of the fog in Beijing this morning – it was taken by a friend as she cycled with her children to school.
For a traveller, social media can perhaps become a little bittersweet, while it’s great to scroll through the photos of the wedding, the new nephew and a close up of the Sunday roast – it’s another reminder of what you’re missing. If you’re a long term traveller like me, you’ll remember the days of waiting weeks for the next letter and gasping at the telephone bill after that drunken international call was made. If only you could remember what you said.