Every time I hear someone say something negative about Facebook, I have to control myself not to bristle. I’ve been a “Facebooker” for quite a few years and the vast majority of my experiences there have been more than just positive — they’ve been enlightening, moving, touching, encouraging, happy, fun, funny, joyful, helpful, and inspiring. Am I just lucky? I don’t think so.
Just last week my Facebook friend Michelle, who lives in Paris, posted that she had a lovely baby grand piano in her former home in New Jersey that she needed to give away — quickly. She had a deadline of just a few days. I jokingly asked her if she could fax the piano to Brazil, but since she thought that might not be practical, I posted to a couple of other friends who live in New Jersey and New York about Michelle’s piano and asked them to spread the word.
Before long, I got a message from my friend Jerry, a guitarist-singer-entertainer-author, saying that he lived very close to the town where the piano was and that he’d love to have it. I’d forgotten that Jerry lived in New Jersey, so I was really happy about this. He said he was dying to learn to play the piano and also that he needed a baby grand piano for his upcoming video shoot. How perfect!
I got back to Michelle right away, even though it was the middle of the night in Paris. I kept my fingers crossed for both of them until the next day, when I got the good news from Jerry that everything had worked out and the piano was his!
I thought, wow, without Facebook would something like this have worked out so seamlessly, so effortlessly? Maybe, but I tend to think Facebook made it even easier.
Another time, I received a payment for a contest I’d won. Unfortunately the only way they could pay me was by a check issued in the USA, which I couldn’t cash in Brazil. I do have a bank account in the USA, but I needed someone to mail the check to and have them deposit it in my bank account. Right away I thought of Facebook. I put up a message asking if anyone could help me. Within an hour or less I got a message from Lorena, a Brazilian Facebook friend living in Connecticut, who said she’d be happy to do it. So I had the check sent to her address and she deposited it in my bank account. Just like that. No hesitation. I was more touched by this than she’ll ever know, and especially by the fact that she was so happy to do it and said it was just a natural thing to do.
I have also received gifts from two Facebook friends. One was a beautiful Italian charm bracelet with charms very carefully chosen to match my personality and interests, from my California friend Paula, whom I’d actually first met online before Facebook, and the other a lovely silver ball necklace from sweet Patricia from Chicago — the ball is actually a little chime that makes a delicate, ethereal sound when you shake it.
These are just a few examples. Other friends have generously offered to send me “care packages” of food items from the USA that can’t be found here in Brazil, for instance. And of course it works both ways. Whenever I see a friend with a need on Facebook, I do what I can to meet it, if possible, and I’m always touched by how quickly people respond when someone posts that a love one has passed on or that they are in some kind of trouble.
I have never met any of these people in person. They are all “virtual” friends. So for those who say that online friendships aren’t “real life” I have to ask: what’s “real?” To me, the virtual “handshakes” extended on Facebook are just as real as the physical variety, and equally satisfying. Have you had any serendipitous experiences on Facebook or other social networks?