Chuka and I were classmates in grammar school. On graduation we parted ways shortly only to meet again in the university. Almost a decade after, Chuka requested to be friends on Facebook. Unfortunately, I gave him a hell of a time in proving his identity. Since I lack the gift of placing people’s faces with the place where we first met, I had a bit of difficulty in remembering him.
With a great deal of patience he helped me recall the location of our first acquaintance. Then we got ‘chatting’ only to realise that he works in Ife – a two hour drive – from Ibadan. This was about four months ago. This virtual friendship continued until we jumped out of cyberspace into reality. I was able to catch up with this childhood friend a few days ago. He had business in Ibadan and we hanged out afterwards.
People have related their experience on Facebook and other social networking sites. For many like myself, Facebook is not only a utility to network; it’s the bomb of our time. This is a network that enabled ‘storytelling’ and gives one an opportunity to “friend or not to friend” using Chi Chi Layor’s words. Asides that, I see it as a village square where there is perpetual activity – both normal and nocturnal.
However, like all media, Facebook can be a waste of time. There is the inherent temptation to peer into other people’s life. To look up their photographs and read the latest gossips. Nonetheless, one cannot but admit that it is also a great tool of virtual mediated interpersonal communication. Little wonder that politicians – even local ones – seek to engage the audience that it offers.
While I have no intention of neither beatifying nor demonising Facebook, I rather say that for me it has been a tremendous aid. Besides providing the platform to catch up with long forgotten friends and reminisce over the past. It is an influential means of communication which no one can easily ignore.