According to this Yahoo.com news video, the average Facebook user has 245 friends, yet likely feels socially isolated anyway.
This little video got me thinking about what Facebook and my “friends” there mean to me as a military spouse. I did a little math today, and in the last eight years (only four of which have been spent as a MilSpouse) I have lived in seven different states and D.C., and in 12 different homes or apartments. That’s a lot of moving and a lot of new friends to be met and kept for later.
Military life is unique in that while we may move around a lot, we’re pretty likely to bump into each other again at a duty station down the road. Last year I witnessed two long lost Fort Leavenworth neighbors reunite in the porta potty line at the Army 10-Miler race. They hadn’t seen each other in 15 years and there they were, waiting to answer the call of nature with 10,000 other people, and suddenly found each other again.
What are the odds of that happening? Better than you might think. (Someone cue that obnoxious "Small World" song, will you?)
For me, Facebook makes those odds better. If I like someone well enough to friend them on Facebook and yearly check out their kid’s Halloween costumes, then I probably like them well enough to be friends-in-person again if the opportunity arises. It helps me prepare for places unknown by comforting myself that there will be a familiar face there waiting for me. Before the Army sends me to a God-forsaken part of Alaska, I want to know that I have four friends from yore poised there to tell me the best place to buy mittens.
Does Facebook cause social isolation? In my opinion, not for military spouses. I'd say it does the opposite.
Facebook is my MilSpouse friendship life raft. It means that even though my long lost friends and I can’t meet at the PX Starbucks any more, we can still share our lives together. And when we do meet again (but hopefully not in a porta potty line) we will be able to pick-up somewhere near where we left off … or maybe even a little bit further down the road.