IF you use the internet and you live in the Balearics, you probably use a social networking site. A survey this week revealed that 90% of the people who are online in Mallorca are registered with Facebook or Twitter, or one of the other services. It makes sense really; it’s perfect for a small-ish community to stay in contact with its members.
I spend a lot of time on Facebook and Twitter and other social networking sites. Its part of what I do for a living. I don’t play the computer games, I don’t answer online quizzes, I don’t want to. I spend all of my online time networking with other people, informing them, asking questions, answering questions, and sharing other things that I think are interesting with my friends. I find it a very useful place to spend time: I’ve made real, close ‘offline’ friends through Facebook who I might never have met otherwise.
It’s important for me to remember though that there are people who won’t use these sites, who think that they are an intrusion in their privacy. I met someone last weekend that vehemently refuses to take part, who thinks that Big Brother is going to take control of us. They could be right, but so far I haven’t been subject to identity theft, and my (albeit empty) bank account is secure. I think I’m just as likely to have my purse stolen when I walk down Jaime 3 in Palma. There are nastier sides to it I know: I’ve read the news reports about online paedophiles and suicide cults, but to avoid those isn’t it just down to common sense and managing your children’s use of the computer?
For all of the perceived dangers of social network sites, I think if you don’t use one then you’re missing out. Facebook has given me entertainment, it’s given me work, it’s given me support, but this week Facebook outdid itself. It gave me, and La Gidg, a piano. I have a new year’s resolution to encourage my daughter to learn an instrument, and I have always wanted to learn to play the piano. So I posted a comment online, wondering if there was an upright piano for sale on the island, and almost immediately got responses, one of them an offer of a baby grand piano if I wanted it. If I wanted it! Wow. The amazing thing is that I hadn’t ever met the person who offered me the piano, we’ve been online friends for a while, but had never met. We have now; I’ve been for a reccie to my new offline friend’s house. The, her, OUR piano, is beautiful, and I am so thrilled to be given it. Thank you Birgitta! Now all I have to do is find a friend who moves pianos for a living. Better get back online and pop that up on Facebook…
(published on http://www.euroweeklynews.com on 13th January 2011)