Selfies. Memes. LOLcats. That old friend that has political views that make you grind your teeth. Embarrassing posts from your mom and dad. Games. Most of us use Facebook as a way to “waste time” or “goof off”. What if I were to tell you that Facebook can be an excellent motivational and organizational tool?
1. Use Facebook to keep in touch with friends who live in different countries or who keep different sleep schedules:
I have a sister in law who lives in China and teaches English for a living. She is generally going to bed as I am getting up, and phone calls to China are prohibitively expensive. Between Facebook and Skype, however, we talk nearly every day. Facebook is actually easier to use in this respect than Skype. I can post messages to her while I'm awake, and she can respond when she is, the equivalent of passing notes under one another's door, without the thousands of miles gap.
2. Use Facebook to keep track of progress on a goal (while gaining support from others):
Whether its weight loss or writing or decluttering your home, there are lots of groups available (if you want to find like-minded folks) or you can simply post either privately or for friends (or even public consumption, if you're brave) your progress toward your goal. Every day I post an "accountability post" available to my friends that sets out goals for my day for both work and home, and shares any challenges and successes I've had. My friends respond to these posts more often and more positively than almost anything else I post.
3. Attitude of Gratitude or Attitude of Appreciation posts:
Multiple studies show that happiness is built not from having more money or having less random awful things happen in life, but from a focus on things that improve your life vs. a focus on things that make them harder. A daily gratitude (or appreciation – post to come on why that is different and may work better for some people) may help you refocus your mind and your life and improve your overall happiness
4. Meet new people in your community or around the world:
I no longer play Facebook games, but when I did, I would sometimes go to the game page and look for “friend me” posts to improve my game success. I put all of these “game friends” on a special list that meant that they couldn't see my posts unless I specifically made it available to them, maintaining my privacy, but I found that several of them weren't quite so careful, and as it turned out, I have remained friends (the kind who actually care about what's going on in each others' lives) with several of them. This is even more true of the “friends of friends” functions, as I have friended many people who have engaged in conversation with mutual friends over the years.
5. Keep track of old friends:
My dad was in the defense industry when I was a kid. If I'm counting right, by the time I was eighteen I had lived in thirteen different houses in seven different cities in seven different states. I kept that pattern up until 2001, living in four more states and fourteen more homes before finally buying the house that I currently live in. Thanks to Facebook, which unlike Usenet and LiveJournal and other predecessors actually became ubiquitous enough for non geeks to use regularly, I have been able to reconnect with dozens of friends from my childhood and young adulthood.
I've left out the obvious that “wasting time” and playing Facebook games (in moderation) can be effective ways to cope with bad days, and simply sharing ordinary daily events can improve relationships with friends and family as well. The point of this story is that while it is completely possible to have a Facebook experience that includes drama and harassment and frustration, Facebook can also be used to improve your social and organizational life.
Speaking of which, if you want to see more posts like this, please follow my page on Facebook, and don't forget to press the “Following” button at the upper right of the page so that Facebook doesn't bury the posts you were wanting to read.