Are you a friend on Facebook yet?

February 23, 2009

by Mark Ollig

I asked my oldest son what the best way was to stay in contact with him while he is in Italy, he told me to go to “Facebook” and request to add me as a “friend.”

Keeping in touch via old fashioned e-mail is just too “yesterday” it seems.

I knew of the Facebook networking site, but instead told him how I had signed up with “MySpace” last year.

“No, you want to get on Facebook,” my son confidently told me.

I learned Facebook is now one of the most popular social networking sites on the Internet.

Facebook is like a “social interconnection utility” which helps people communicate and stay in touch more easily with their friends, family, and coworkers.

Not having used Facebook before I first needed to create an account on it in order to become “friends” with my son’s Facebook page.

Once I signed up, I needed to choose a profile picture of myself that others would see, so I uploaded a “somewhat recent” photo of myself – not that I am vain (is that laughter I hear out there?).

The photo I uploaded was taken when I was a “few” years younger, but it’s still easily recognizable as me . . . at least to me it is.

I really did not want my profile picture to be of some cute avatar or cuddly animal or rare bird – although I did think of using a cat photograph I am fond of.

Once I became my son’s Facebook friend, I could see and communicate with all his other friends also, which I was surprised to learn included other sibling family members who I did not know were using Facebook.

In fact, when I performed a Facebook search using my last name, I was shocked to see 73 other “Olligs” who are active on Facebook.

Many Facebook family members are from across the United States and even in other countries like Germany. I will be contacting some of them for correspondence – hopefully I will learn how we are related.

So Facebook appears to be a valuable way to get in contact with lost relatives too.

It was fairly easy maneuvering around the Profile, Friends, Networks, and Inbox application links on Facebook.

I created new photo albums and uploaded pictures to share with other family members I have as Facebook friends.

Being mindful of the fact these pictures can also be seen and commented on by the friends of family members, I tried not to upload anything that would be too embarrassing.

My Facebook profile information, friends status, photos, videos, and friends’ recent activities are conveniently displayed when first logging into my account.

I update my Facebook “Wall” each day.

The Facebook Wall tells my friends “what I am currently doing.” This reminds me of Twitter, where users send out “tweets” about their current activities to a list of other Twitter friends that follow them.

When I log into my Facebook account, I will see “notifications” on the lower part of the screen. This shows me the number of new notifications which consist of messages, pictures, videos, or posted items left on other friends and family walls or linked pages along with notifications of messages or comments others have left for me as well.

I can also see other friends who are currently online on Facebook.

During the second day of using Facebook, I was surprised when a “chat box” popped up which was originated from my son who saw my “active” status on Facebook and decided to contact me.

Using Facebook Chat, I was able to type and read messages in real-time with my son who was at his computer in Italy, and in a time zone seven hours ahead of me.

This reminded me of the old BBS days when we did text messaging in chat rooms.

Viewing all the messages on the Facebook Wall also reminded me of the time back in 1979 when I visited Elvis Presley’s home in Graceland (this was before the house itself was open to tourists). The brick wall in front of Graceland was filled with messages written by his fans.

On Facebook, I can easily post video links I want to share.

While I am on YouTube, it’s easy to share videos with friends on my Facebook account with just a few clicks. The Facebook platform enables other online companies to easily integrate it within their own web sites, just like YouTube does.

Facebook was started in February 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg from his Harvard dorm room. Before the end of that year, Zuckerberg realized there were nearly one million active users on his Facebook creation.

Today, 175 million people are actively using Facebook, which now includes your humble columnist.

Over 700 people currently work at Facebook. Their main offices headquartered in Palo Alto, CA.

Facebook is free and is located at: www.facebook.com.

Are you already on Facebook? You can search for me by entering my name.

On this week’s “Web Site of The Week” forum, the Bits_blogger will be featuring the Facebook Internet site.

I hope you can check it out. I will also be sharing a few photographs from my Facebook page for my readers to see.