Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Deep Thoughts by Me: Facebook

Whew, it's been a while, eh? I've been adjusting to my new job at the shelter, although it's not so new any more! I have been there for 5 months now as the Website & Volunteer Coordinator...there have been ups and downs, but mostly ups.

As I was scrolling through my Facebook feed this evening, I saw that a few people on my friends list had used an app to show their first picture ever posted on Facebook. I was curious (that's how they always get you) so I clicked through the permissions and got this:

First reaction: Awwwww, me and Heather with Superman's crotch!

Second reaction: Holy shit, I've been on Facebook for 10 years!

After I got over the brief hipster urge to brag about how I was on Facebook before it was cool (okay okay, I did comment on it, on Facebook), it really got me thinking about how Facebook's role in my life today compared to then.

I mean, just look at the header advertisement on the photo above: "Games. Gifts. Photos. Chat. Find it all on Facebook." When I first joined as a high school senior taking full time classes at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, you had to have a college email address to sign up. Now everyone can be on it, which was groan-inducing at first (I vowed to never accept my parents' friend requests, and then my siblings all did and I couldn't be the one asshole who didn't) but today it has so much reach and impact.

Many people will comment about how Facebook is a time-killer, soul-sucker, etc etc, and I get weirdly defensive about it. All of my family and most of my friends are far far away from me, and getting glimpses of their lives through Facebook makes me feel grounded and connected, all while living in the boondocks of Maine. Sure there's plenty of drivel and those certain people who post everything they've ever done and/or all of their feelings they've ever felt. And misinformation spreads like wildfire -- in the last couple days a post about a giant imminent snowstorm has gone viral around here with ensuing panic, and the post is from 2013.

It helps that he's wicked cute.
But, then I look at what Facebook has done for the shelter. A large portion of my job is Facebook management. That too has its ups and downs, but the sheer reach of Facebook as a tool to network for animals is awe-inspiring. For example, today I posted a picture of a lab that came in as
a stray. In the 8 hours since it has been posted, 147 people have shared his photo and it has had over 7,400 views.

So Facebook can help reunite strays with their owners. It can also find animals new homes. When I started at the shelter, I began tracking where people had seen the animal they ended up adopting. For cats most people walk in and choose a cat without coming in for a specific one. For dogs however, Facebook is usually the source.

The post that coined him
as the Shelter Overlord.
In my opinion Facebook also connects people to what we do at the shelter, to make us more accessible and relatable. The recent phenomenon of "Cuddles the Overlord" showed that. We had a grumpy-faced kitten who quickly became a mini-star on our Facebook and Instagram; we were able to show the lighter side of what we do with silly captions. And when Cuddles had to be put to sleep because he had spinal deformities and was in severe pain, people got to know the heavier side of what we do as well.

Sometimes I lose sight that not everyone is on Facebook. It is such an important piece of my life, both personally and professionally, that I forget for some others it's something they check every once in a while, or never at all. The world in general does not revolve around Facebook, even if my section of the world does.

Anywho, there's not much point to this post other than to ruminate and to plug the fact that we're trying to get to 10,000 likes on the shelter page. If you haven't liked it already, please do!

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