What is the Facebook Thingy? Reconnecting After Thirty Years…

With all of  the recent hoopla surrounding Facebook and the changes they made to their Terms of Use (which they have since reversed while they figure out how to use better wording and, quite frankly, not freak out the general public) it seems appropriate to begin a dialogue on the juggernaut that is Facebook.  Mike Wilkerson kicks it off with his own musings on the power of reconnections within the world of Facebook.

I think those of us in the electronic “know” have a powerful responsibility that smacks us in the forehead regularly. On one level, it doesn’t seem too terribly difficult to manage. Along the way, people from the past will emerge, providing you with newfound face-time that opens doors to memories, laughs, puffing chests and the never-ending flash of moments from the past that have guided you to where you are today. What would have happened had the face of life’s coin landed differently for you or those you’ve recently met?

I am of course referring to the always-initiated question: “What is That Facebook Thingy?”

My father and I were recently talking about it when discussing the marketing of his growing library of common-sensical podcasts (Fast Freddie’s Castle of Common Sense Podcast) and he asked me that very question.

The last 6 months have taught me a lot about the power of something as fundamental as Facebook. It’s much more than a one-word answer, but for lack of a better frame of reference, it’s the ability to showcase your personal or business “shingle” on the Internet – to anyone. This first in a series of great experience-based Facebook showcases provides you with my recent re-connecting to people that I haven’t seen – for 28 years.

I am only 38 years old, and have recently touched base with a growing number of people I went to high school with via my recent 20th high school anniversary. That in itself is an accomplishment and will be the focus of a future article, but how many of you can say that you’ve recently touched base with people you were in 2nd grade with? I’m not sure if it was because of the indellible memories forged during some of the most vibrant times in my life, or because the people of my past are literally cartoon characters that I still draw both in my mind and on paper, but childhood friends from 2nd (Ms. D’Amico’s class, Mrs. Duer for 3rd grade) through 4th grade (Ms. Gallagher’s class) were one of a kind, and still are.

Anthony Mulatz wasn’t just a friend of mine, he was the son of one of the powerful people on Earth – Tom Mulatz, The Owner of Tom’s Towing – the outfit that rescued cars from the brink of destruction while they were on the side of the road. The corporation that pulled mangled vehicles of all kinds apart from each other after colliding at the speed of sound – or so it seemed to me, as an 8 year old. Anthony’s Mom was also my Cub Scout Den Mother that taught me that true courage, tenacity, and mental strength could only be developed by life’s greatest challenge – building things out of popcicle sticks, over and over and over. Her step-by-step process of using real acid to etch mirrors for the Christmas ornaments we made in 1978 are still one of the most arduous and life-building experiences I can remember. How many OTHER 8 year olds do YOU know that play with acid? Ha! Anthony himself was a wonder of 8 year olds – his height, at least 9 feet tall. His arms were like rolls of carpet, often dragging on the ground providing unlucky opponents with no escape walking down the school hallways and even down wide-open streets in every neighborhood. He was a great friend that I admired, who’s family had a significant impact on me when I was in my formative years – and I just befriended him once again via Facebook after 30 long years.

Mike Jones wasn’t just a classmate in second grade, he and Anthony were across the street neighbors, and were companion lightposts anywhere they went – providing comedy and foreboding all at the same time. Though their personality powers combined while they were in proximity to each other, Mike had a singular, superhero-like power that families back then could only dream of – he had a backyard pool – awww yeah! Personal, above-ground, icey-blue watery goodness 13 steps outside his back door. He ruled it with a friendly but iron-gate-like fist, and there were many Chicago-suburb summer days that were quenched by Mike’s poolside generalship and jokes and I treasure them now even more than I did back then. He too was someone I just added to “my friends list” via the world-shrinking Facebook technology 30 years after our days in Twinbrook Elementary.

So the first tool that facebook affords me (and you when you jump in) is the ability to close the distance created by the past, to once again open a conduit to times when things were significantly less complicated, and provide you a virtual handshake that makes hearts swell, eyes water, and excitement soar. When I think of the people that talk about reuniting after 30 years I think of the “Greatest Generation” – those from World War II who helped fight tyranny and create the foundation of the world we currently live in. Who’d have ever thought that I would be saying and experiencing the same but different sense of pride after 30 way-too-short years thanks to Facebook?

Look for my next “What is That Facebook Thingy?” article in a future edition here and be sure to chime in with comments in regard to YOUR reconnections to cartoon characters of your past!

Written by: Mike Wilkerson

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