A good friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that he was “over it all” and closing his account.

Maybe he was overwhelmed by people sending him Alien Cows from Farmville or wanting him to send them a submachine gun in Mafia Wars.  Maybe he was weary of friend requests from people from high school he wasn’t cool enough to be friends with then and is way too cool to be friends with now. Maybe he truly feels that Facebook is a kitschy, vainglorious and shallow replacement for actual telephone calls, emails and visits.

While I can appreciate the viewpoint that social media isolates us from real human interaction, there’s something very special to me the way Facebook allows us to step, gently and momentarily, into the life of someone we care about.  Someone who may be far away in both miles and years, just to share a memory, congratulate  an achievement, send an e-hug, make a snide remark, whatever.  For that second, in the ether, you are there with them.  And  they are right there with you.

We lead busy lives and unfortunately it’s far too easy to let people slip through the cracks.  Facebook and Twitter, while not the same as dinner and drinks, or voice-to-voice via Ma Skype, at least lets us stay connected and aware of each other.  Ten minutes a day on “Facecrack” and I’ve “liked” my sorority sister’s new puppy, “Woot!”ed my friend on her new car, sent a message of support to a colleague who lost a friend to cancer, and “found” a friend from college I’ve always wondered what happened to.  Maybe it is socialization for a new age, but the  interactions are real, as is the satisfaction and happiness I take from the exchange.

My friend decided not to close his Facebook account, btw. Moments after his declaration, he was inundated by posts of love and support.  He realized, I think, he was not only cutting off that easy access into the lives of his friends, but our access to his.

I love Facebook.  It’s reunited me with the people from my past who have shaped the person I am today.  Seeing them again, and sharing in their daily lives and accomplishments, even if only electronically, reminds me of the great times we’ve had and gives me courage for the future, knowing that I’m not alone, and a lifetime’s worth of people who love and believe in me is just an IM away.

I’ll take that in a heartbeat, even if it comes with an Alien Cow.