Until recently, I thought Facebook was for my students, not for serious adults like myself. It was a way for them to interact with other young people and promote their youth culture. I didn’t see any benefit for mature adults with busy lives. It seemed a silly distraction and waste of precious time.
But then I published a novel, and all of the marketing gurus insisted that authors needed to have a Facebook page as part of their platform. They also must join FB groups and regularly interact with others in that medium. I complied and made checking out FB a regular part of my day, including periodic posts that include my blog entries. I visit several different Binders of Women groups (freelance and travel writers, women of a certain age, fabulists, Bay Area binders) as well as those that have similar interests, like magical realism and other groups for women writers.
A strange thing happened. While I know some of the people outside of the FB world that I have become friends with there, many aren’t part of my everyday life, and I don’t interact with them outside of FB. However, I’ve discovered that even strangers from that milieu have become a peripheral part of my life. It’s a little like reading a novel where you engage with various characters as you read. They don’t actually exist outside of the narrative, but they take on significance as you learn more about them, lingering in your unconscious when you finish the book.
I eventually realized I had become part of a community, even though most people aren’t posting things that are particularly revealing. Even so, I get a sense of the person and what he/she is like and begin to feel a connection to him/her. One women posts images of her vibrant paintings. Another shares photos of the many different sunsets she has seen over a lake she visits each summer, communicating the amazing variousness of a daily occurrence. Others share valuable information about politics and health that I might not have found elsewhere. FB is like living in a neighborhood where we only get glimpses into one another’s lives through our windows/posts, but those peeks bind us together though common interests.
I don’t know if FB has helped me to sell any books, but it has introduced me to individuals I otherwise would not know. Some are also using FB to market their products. But others seem genuinely interested in the various posts they receive. I’m happy to confess that I’ve become one of the latter, so do become my friend on FB!