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Ah yes. Facebook. To the average bear, Facebook is a prepetual source of gossip and acts as an events calendar for the socially active. However, to the expat, Facebook is so much more. In many cases it has taken the place of e-mail as the soul connection to life back home. However, Facebook, for me at least, has been a blessing and a curse. And here’s why:

Blessing: Keeping informed without the mass e-mails.

I know what is going on with a majority of people back home. I know first days of school, I know new babies, I know new jobs.

Curse: I’m informed on an impersonal, superficial level.

I might know all that stuff above, but I don’t know how Max really did on his first day at school. I don’t know how Melanie’s parents feel about being grandparents. I don’t know if Chrissy is in a new job….because she was fired from the first one. I lose the banter that happens with a phone call or coffee break. The ease of sharing information on Facebook leads to lazy behaviour. Not to mention, it’s a reminder I’m missing out on being involved and excited for the events. Sitting next to Benny Mac on the couch and exclaiming “WOO HOO look at Bethany’s engagement ring!!!” is nowhere near as exciting as actually holding her hand and exclaiming it to everyone within earshot.

Blessing: I can let everyone know what I’m up to as well! Two way street baby!

I don’t care what anyone says. I don’t care that I haven’t talked to you in 10 years – I love that 87 people “liked” my status about submitting my thesis! It’s actually kinda cool to see the friends I made two states ago saying they are impressed with how far I’ve come since the freshman in college who still thought the world loved Americans and studying occurred while nursing a bottle of Jose Cuervo. Not only is it a wonderful way to not leave anyone out, it’s a great reminder to myself as well that I’ve grown up!

Curse: I neglect non-Facebookers.

My poor father. He gets his phone calls, sure. But he is not an internet man. He checks his e-mail perhaps once a month and knows how to google something, but that’s as far as his interest goes. So he doesn’t get the by the minute updates and photographs the rest of Facebook gets to see. And I forget what I’ve already told him. I told Facebook I was spending Christmas on the Sunshine Coast…..didn’t I tell you too, Dad? My other friend Hal, also non-Facebooky, loves her novella e-mails. And to be quite frank, sometimes I don’t have time for more than a two sentence status update (says the blogger….whoops).

Blessing: Sharing my new country with the motherland

I harp quite a bit that Aussies can be pretty ignorant about Americans. But Americans are just as bad. Some of my favorite Facebook moments are when the two collide. Recently there was a heated debate on my page about which country had the better health care system….wooooo! There were plenty of valid points in there – it was a great learning experience for me as well! But man oh man, there were some ignorant ones as well. It was great to see the debate develop, truth be told.
In the same vein, but a bit different, is sharing the experiences I’m having living overseas. I walked home with a koala the other day (Serious.) and was able to share the photos with all my zoo coworkers from my Florida days. They shared in my excitement even though they weren’t there with me. I loved it!

Curse: Being in the throes of homesickness and seeing everyone going out together/change of seasons/whatever I’m missing in that moment

…and then you’re glued to your computer screen. Benny Mac is out-of-town for work, and I’m home alone on a Saturday night. On Facebook. Watching everyone head out to Clearwater or Red Rocks or something equally fun and exciting. Or it’s Christmas, and I jump on Facebook and see everyone driving across the state (pretty unheard of in this massive, far-spaced country) in the snow (also unheard of) eating….I don’t know…pop tarts or something I irrationally miss all of a sudden. Come on expats. You know what I’m talking about.

Ahhh. Facebook. How I love to loathe thee.