Those of us who live in tech and read all the blogs have been speaking the language for years. We switched to Firefox back at version 1something, had @gmail.com addresses since when they were hard to get, and have forgotten more userIDs than most folks will ever have.
But from time to time something in tech clicks in the real world in a good way. You stop having to explain to “normal” friends and family what you’re talking about because they’re doing it, too. They start telling you about it as if it’s brand new, amazed that it existed for so long until you tell them.
Back in 1988 or so when I first started getting involved online, I had to explain to folks what a “modem” was. After a few years, I could say I was going “online” and even my grandmother knew what I meant. Then it was sites like Amazon and eBay.
Now, it’s happening with social networking. Nevermind that the blogs have been talking about it for ages. The rest of the world has caught up. They get it. Have you seen what’s happening with Facebook?!? The college kids are rolling their eyes. Online tech press consider it old news and they’re on to the next new shiny. In the meantime, Facebook has become mainstream relevant. When I joined Facebook in mid-2007, there wasn’t a single person from my high school class on it that I could find. None of my real-world friends and maybe just the kids of my cousins. For a 40something year-old, it was all only my tech-geek friends.
Not anymore. Over the last 6 months or so, I’ve connected on Facebook to people from every corner of my real-world life. Most have found me first (it helped that I added in my maiden name to my profile). Old classmates, family, distant friends and former colleagues. I can’t stand all the stupid applications (except for Causes), but I love reading status updates, seeing posts and photos and commenting. If I’m worried about someone I haven’t heard from in a while, I check their Facebook status first. Heck, even my mother is on Facebook. I still only accept friend requests from people I’ve either met in person or have had some personal connection with online.
Facebook has the most value when it’s used as it was intended. For fun and connection. I long stopped stressing the geeky bits and I just enjoy it for what it is.
Every once in a while it’s nice to look at the technology we use and see it the same way the rest of the world does. Doesn’t happen that often.