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Never Say Never: Real Benefits of Social Media

Thomas Whitley

Never say never. My mom used to utter these words to me all the time when I was growing up. We all understand the cliché. It means don't say something will never happen or that you'll never do something, because "never" is such an absolute word and chances are good that what you said would never happen actually will. Moreover, the terse phrase also harbors sarcasm and irony, as it uses the very word it says to never use. My mother said for years that she would never join Facebook. I didn't particularly care much, as I had said the same thing for a few years when I was in college and all of my friends were drooling over the social media site. I didn't understand the hype. After I joined, I realized the connections that could be made and began to utilize it for that purpose. My mom just joined Facebook about a week and a half ago. She found the usual friends from high school and earlier in life that she hadn't communicated with for some time, but she also found another person, a man whom we'll call Os, because that's his name (or nickname anyway).

Os was an exchange student who stayed with my family when I was quite young (around 3 or 4, I suppose). As we all know, keeping in touch is difficult, but especially when people are separated by thousands of miles and have a not insignificant language barrier. My mom is someone who keeps in touch very well with people, but over the years it gets more and more difficult. After sending a friend request to Os, my mom got a message back from him. The first few sentences are below.

I can´t describe you how happy I feel in this moment, I don´t have words to explain you my feelings, I saw your photo and my mind start to remember everything, I have to tell you a lot off things that happen in the past years

My mom forwarded me his message with her own note attached:

Isn't this AWESOME!!

It is, indeed, awesome. A connection has been renewed. The joy is unmistakable. This little experience serves as a reminder for me that as I think of how much I despise Farmville and the other myriad of games on Facebook, and how much I abhor how Facebook tries to deceive its users into publically displaying much more information than they should, Facebook does have moments when it shines brightly. This is one of those moments. Social media is a powerful tool that can change lives and change the world if we would be appropriately harness its power and resources.

Remember, never say never.