I was talking with an acquaintance last week who asked me why anyone would use a social networking site.  She said she was not interested in who ate what for dinner, who was dating whom, or what was on the latest reality show and clearly that is all people post on their sites.  She would rather talk with people.

Well, there are lots of reasons to use social networking sites that have nothing to do with food, dating or television shows.   If I actually spoke with all of the people with whom I share information on my Facebook page, for example, each day, I would get nothing else done!  So, why might one use a social networking site?  I sat down and wrote out a list:

  • share ideas
  • share activities
  • share events
  • share interests
  • meet people
  • find people (who are lost to you)
  • blogging (and microblogging) your ideas
  • play games
  • participate in other activities
  • become known
  • stay informed
  • get a job

That is a lot of things to discuss without gossiping!

Personally, I use Facebook for a variety of purposes.  I like to keep in contact with my family, especially with nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews, who are spread out across the country.  I learn about their first steps and words, their accomplishments and even their trips to Peru!  They are a real part of my life in ways that would not happen if I had to rely upon them (or their parents) to call or write me.  I cherish those family ties.

I also use Facebook to keep in touch with old friends.  I share ideas with people with whom I attended elementary school, high school, college and graduate school.   We share what is happening today, and sometimes old memories (some of which I can no longer remember!).

I get to share my passions with my friends, relatives, colleagues and acquaintances.  I try to stay away from religion and politics (although sometimes I slip), but I can share my ideas about encouraging young women to pursue careers in Information Systems and Technology, and supporting the arts.  Since my friend list includes not only my contemporaries, but also alumni of my university and some high school students, I hope that the messages about the opportunities get to people who are encouraged by them, or people who are in the position to encourage someone who needs it.

I also use Facebook to get information from news sources, professional developments and ideas for projects.   I also get updates about things to do and up to date news on  favorite theaters, shops, activities, social groups, house of worship, political candidates and more.   And, since many of my contacts are in areas of the U.S. that I do not visit often, or countries other than the U.S. , I get to see wonderful photos and descriptions that allow me to live vicariously, or plan my next trip.

All of this comes to me each day and supplements my life which, I assure you, includes talking with people.   As with any venture, Facebook can deliver a variety of content.  You need to plan what that content should be and how you can get it.