My last post was about how Facebook has made it easier for me to remember birthdays and, because of that, send my salutations and good wishes to people I respect and care for. It was meant to be a little bit light-hearted, but not too much. Recently, I’ve had occasion to think about another element of my personal life Facebook has enhanced. For Memorial Day this year I replaced my profile picture with one of my long-deceased father. It was taken at Great Lakes United States Naval Training Center, sometime during his training as a Radioman. Subsequently, he served aboard Liberty ships and LSTs (Tank Landing Ships) and was a participant in at least one of the notorious Murmansk runs. As somewhat of a side note, as a result of researching links to include in this paragraph I discovered that my father was likely in what is referred to as the U.S. Navy Armed Guard, a special group of sailors tasked with defending U.S. and allied merchant ships during WWII.
He never talked about his experiences in much detail, but I know first-hand he never again slept all that well. I learned at a very early age not to be within striking distance if I was asked by my mother to wake him up! I would gingerly grab a foot, shake a bit, then quickly back toward the door. I do know he also acted as somewhat of a ship’s journalist and cartoonist, as he had saved copies of the newsletters he wrote and published. I also know he was quite familiar with Morse code.
So, back to the point of this post. As a result of my putting the picture up (I’ve put it here as well), my niece – my brother’s youngest daughter – saw and commented on the picture and the few words I posted about why I put it up. She commented “Very cool Ricky…I knew he was involved somehow with World War II but I never knew specifics. Thanks for sharing :)”, to which I responded mentioning how I was glad I could share what I remembered before I’m gone as well. She then said “I agree! It is a shame that I never got to meet him, but I always love hearing stories about him, no matter that they are second hand :)”.
It then occurred to me that, despite the problems we’ve all had with Facebook, especially around issues of privacy, I have never connected with my family as completely as I’m able to do through it. I have managed to scan old photos of relatives and share them with my family. Many of them had never seen, and never would have seen, any of them save for my placing them on my wall. I know there are other ways in which I could share and, believe me, I’ve tried many. However, nowhere does such a large group of my family spend time than on Facebook.
I don’t wish to defend anything untoward that Facebook does, and I have no doubt they’ve overreached in some areas. I can’t image serving a customer base of some 3/4 of a billion users without something being amiss now and again, so don’t color me surprised or even terribly offended. I am also not interested in getting into a discussion of how you or someone you know has been wronged by the service or any of their numerous applications. I believe there are more useful forums for that kind of a conversation.
I merely wish to point out the slightly unappreciated capability Facebook has given me (just me, that’s it) to connect with family and friends that I otherwise would likely not have. As social media expands and becomes more useful and sophisticated, I have no doubt there will be rough spots and mistakes (possibly some very big ones) will be made. But, to use an old adage, I don’t wish to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I still like what I’m getting out of the offering . . . and the price is right in my wheelhouse :)