This is my take on why social networking is so popular: because we all need witnesses to our joyful, tragic, messy, interesting lives.
Here’s an example of what I mean. My youngest daughter spent her senior year of high school in Berlin, Germany, on a study-abroad program. It was a year of an incredible growth and at the end of it, she knew she had been changed forever.
Because it was a tough “immersion experience,” the administrators specifically prohibited family members from visiting. Too many youth had gone home after their parents or grandparents came to see them mid-year.
But at the end of her year, Lucie arranged for her best friend to visit. It was not easy to arrange. In the midst of the bureaucratic hassle, Lucie puzzled over why it had become so important to her to have Maggie come to Berlin.
“Because you need a witness,” I told her. “You need somebody to share these people and places with you. Maggie will help keep the year ‘real’ for you after you’re back in a totally different culture.”
Now at great professional risk, I’m going to share with you a Facebook status update I posted on the same subject.
“My dog died nearly a year ago but I just dropped a piece of cheese on the kitchen floor and started to call him over. Only on Facebook can you share something like that. The point is that we need ‘witnesses’ to our lives, people who understand that even small moments can have big importance.”
Yes, I’m silly and sentimental, and I know a lot of dog lovers on Facebook. But my analysis of the situation still stands. And that’s why social networking is so important.
At least for my friends, it’s not just about keeping in touch with distant relatives, finding old classmates, or uploading photos to share. We show each other real interest and compassion. If I ask for help, or just need to know someone is listening, my “witnesses” always show up.
Please comment but don’t bother telling me I’m silly and sentimental because I already confessed to that.
Photo credit: Found on this site through Google images