Virginia DeBolt (bio) writes the bi-weekly Elder Geek column for Time Goes By in which she takes the mystery out of techie things all bloggers and internet users need to know to simplify computer use. She has written several books on technology and keeps two blogs herself, Web Teacher and First 50 Words. You will find links to Virginia's previous Time Goes By Elder Geek columns here.
I thought I wouldn't like Facebook. I thought it would be just another time waster social media tool that I didn't need. But I discovered that I really do like it. Here's why:
- I can keep up with local event announcements such as meetings, gatherings, and class schedules from my Tai Chi Kuan.
- I get reports from friends on matters that I care about such as reports from the hospital, news about new grandchildren, and travel experiences.
- I can keep up with members of my family.
- I can keep in touch with a community of people who share my interests.
There are other things to do on Facebook. A lot of people play games. I can't tell you anything about the games, because I don't play them. You can upload photos. You can chat. You can schedule events and take RSVPs. You can create a fan page for a business or celebrity or TV show or cause or even a website.
Go to facebook.com and start an account. It's free. The first thing you do is give Facebook the information you want to make public: your name, and information about you. You decide what you want to share. Do you want to mention your high school? Tell where you live? Describe your interests? All this type of information goes into the settings and info for your account. Watch for the setting marked Privacy under the Settings tab.
Click the "manage" link and set up the rules for what you want to be public and what will be kept private. Facebook may assume you want everything to be public unless you tell it otherwise, so spend some time telling it otherwise.
Another tab in your account that you want to pay attention to is called "Notifications."
In the Notifications area, you decide what you want Facebook to send you a notice about. Do you want to get a notice when someone asks to be your friend or sends you a message? Here's where you set that up.
USING THE SITE
When you are logged in to Facebook, you see a menu at the upper right. It says "Home Profile Account."
When you first log in, you are on your home page. Here's a bit of my home page.
On the left of my home page, I can choose to see my news feed (the news feed is what my friends are posting on Facebook), my messages, any events I'm invited to attend, my photos, and more. I can also see which of my friends are online at the time in case I want to chat.
If I click "Profile" in the menu at the upper right, I see my profile information on the left (which I can edit at any time) and on the right is my Wall where I post things I want to share. Other tabs next to the tab for my Wall include Info‹where I tell more about myself and can link to my blog. There's a tab here for Photos, which is where you start when you want to add photos.
If you want to write something to post on Facebook, go to your profile and look at your Wall. There's a blank box there you type in. You are not limited to 140 characters on Facebook the way you are on Twitter. You can type quite a lot in this box.
Under the input box, there are a few icons that trigger actions like including a photo, video, event, or link in your post. Post what you want in that box and click Share. Anyone who is your friend on Facebook will then see what you posted on their Home page as part of their News Feed.
There's a search box at the top of the page in Facebook. You can search for people you know. Type their name and see if they are on Facebook. If they are, you "friend them" which means you ask to be added to their list of contacts. The other person has to agree to this. If you don't agree to let someone be a friend, they cannot see what you post. When you agree to be friends with another Facebook user, they see what you post and you see what they post. You can chat with them. You can invite them to events or send them personal messages.
You can comment on things that your friends post, and they can comment on things you post. This can get a discussion going.
This example shows a Facebook post with comments. I'm a Facebook fan of "In Plain Sight" a TV show filmed in Albuquerque. This is what they put on Facebook the day after the episode with Rita Moreno (isn't she fabulous?). Several hundred people said they "liked" the post, which means they like the photos, and over a hundred more left a comment about the post.
When you're a fan of a Facebook page, it's a little like being a friend. You get information on your home page from whatever you're a fan ofit could be a cause, a website, an entertainer, or something else.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!
There is more to Facebook, but learning how to sign in, post something, and check in with what your friends are doing are the main Facebook skills. Once you get good at these things, you can explore and branch out.
Some warnings might be in order as part of the "more" you may find on Facebook. There are applications that run inside Facebook that do things like play games, help you find your relatives, and hundreds of other things. Be careful with these. Before you agree to let an application into your Facebook account be sure you know what they want, what they will do with your information, and that they are not just wanting to sell you something.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Linda Chaput: The Voice