How many of you spend your days regularly checking on your social media updates? As soon as you wake up? Before you turn off your bedside lamp at night? Even taking your iPad or iPhone into the washroom, so you don’t have to miss what is going on out there in the virtual world? I can hear giggles and see exchanged winks between the guilty ones, but please don’t worry – I’m not judging you or laughing at you – I’d be the first to put my hands up and plead “guilty” :).
Despite all the accusations and bad publicity some social media sites have faced, I am not among those who point the finger at them. On the contrary, I’m devoting this post to promoting them – how many of you regular users can honestly say that they have not changed your lives for the better?
Personally, I joined Facebook on the 25 October 2007. Until the end of 2010, my contacts were limited to those I have actually met, i.e. family and friends. With around 30 odd friends we shared holiday snaps, occasional exchange of lunch and dinner treats, and status updates or special occasion greetings.
This dramatically changed in February 2011, after my first book The Same Moon was published, followed by Trials of Life. My on-line friends increased more then ten fold in a few short months. By the end of last year, my Facebook friends had climbed to 437, Tweeps at 1860, and GoodReads at 281 (Figures faithfully recorded in my 2011 – End of Year Reflections and Acknowledgements).
Are you still complaining about the Timeline or have you got used to it by now and are actually enjoying its many features? It is a great reminder of my social life on-line, the friends I have met, and perhaps a few I have lost, or deleted intentionally. Another year passes in the blink of an eye and as customary at this time of the year, I am a sentimental soul, as I am prone to reflect and become nostalgic.
On the 12.12.12 (how unique could this date get?), Facebook offered its users a 2012 Review, with the most significant events in this eventful year. I used that service and I noted that some of my friends did too What did you find out about yourself?
I’m not going to boast to you which of my pictures have generated the most discussion, nor which status updates were the most controversial, but I will share with you two special friendships which Facebook highlighted: Firstly, on the 10th of March, I became friends with Sandra Valente (I actually met Sandra before that, as my website clearly indicated that Sandra made her debut appearance there following my interview with a mutual friend Dannie Hill back in December 2011- it is completely Sandra’s fault that Facebook’s record was ‘wrong’ because she was a late Facebook convert ;)).
However, Sandra deserves this special mention. We have regular DM sessions on Twitter, even during one of the most dramatic events in her life a few months ago. She is someone who takes her time to chat to friends, offering them support where needed. We share a lot in common, and you don’t need to guess which one sits on the top of our list: BOOKS!
Yes, books brought us together, and here are just a few snippets of our on-line friendship: 1) I was her first guest blogger when she opened up her wonderful site to guest posts; 2) She hosted my Land of Hope book tour, designed my logo (see below read my book, reviewed it and hosted a give-away; 3) When I visited Korea a couple of months ago, she helped me out with her insightful, two-part guest post on Tips From a Reader Not a Writer (Part Two); 4) She recently spent many of her waking hours as well as sleepless nights going through The Same Moon, after I did a few rewrites with the intention of publishing a paperback in 2013. I also made her cry many sad tears, as well as a few smiles, as she dived in a journey with Pearl, the protagonist in my books If you have not read her fabulous Review for The Same Moon, make sure you pop into her site and check it out. Do you think words are enough to show my gratitude to such an amazing woman? I hardly think so!
The second significant friendship of which Facebook ‘notified’ me was another ‘virtual friend’ I made on the 4th of September 2012, whose Facebook name is Isa Bel, and you will hear me referring her as Maria. This time, Facebook proved accurate – like many of my friends, Maria and I made the initial connection through our mutual love of books, and to be more precise, The Same Moon was the ‘match-maker’. Through the Facebook group of Chongqing (the city I came from, with which Maria has some kind of affinity), our friendship followed, quickly and naturally.
It was because of Maria that I visited Spain a week ago – we had so much fun exploring Southern Spain. I was showered with tremendous hospitality and genuine warmth, and I was left completely and utterly overwhelmed. Gracias, amiga mia :). More posts about Spain and my Spanish friends are promised in the coming weeks, so keep checking in :)!
I’m not sure how EXACTLY Facebook managed to pick out Sandra and Maria out of around 200 new friends I have made in 2012 - a total of 632 as of today. I have a feeling that some people would accuse Facebook for invasion of their privacy. Personally, I don’t care – I was just delighted to welcome them into my life, as I do with many other friends. My Twitter followers are increasing at a steady pace, with around 2660, give or take, GoodReads pals of 604. I know that many of these are just ‘statistics’ and we may never meet in real life (Some I have every intention to hook up with), but does that make them less real or less valuable?
I don’t think so. What do you think? I’d love to hear your stories and your opinions, so do drop me a line below and share your thoughts with me.
Thank you, all my friends on Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, G+, visitors to my websites and elsewhere – You enrich my life in so many ways! - This post is for you all :)!