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I belong to Facebook. It took me awhile to get on it because I was not sure I wanted the hassle of checking it each day. I viewed it as just one other source of electronic communication such as texting or Twitter. Electronic communication, I have found, can get you into a lot of trouble.

I use e-mail each day and from time to time I found that electronic mail can really tick me off. People are always much quicker to write back to someone on e-mail when they should have kept their fingers off the keys for 24 hours or so to cool down. On more than one occasion I was (am) guilty of that very offense. My fingers get ahead of my brain.

After my kids got me onto Facebook it took me quite awhile to post some things. I am no computer genius and the mechanics of a new medium take me a time to learn. I slowly got to master some of the techniques on Facebook and became somewhat proficient. I am able to post pictures, newspaper articles and transpose other electronic media on my Facebook page or wall.

I have a special high school class reunion coming up and I belong to the reunion committee. The reunion committee has used Facebook to spread the word. Slowly but surely I have added my classmates as my friends on Facebook and I have found out many things about the people I have not seen on either a regular basis or in fact since the day of my high school graduation.

Facebook provides a mean to communicate with other people and allows people to share experiences that would otherwise may be lost. Yet with the possibilities of Facebook comes the darker side.

Dark side 1 is that you get a lot of advertising that you may or not be interested in. If you go online to search for Maytag washing machines, Maytag washing machines will appear on your Facebook page. So will other merchandise that you may have a passing interest in.

Dark side 2 is that you realize that some of your friends have exactly the opposite political view points than you have, or may embark on a crusade to have you know your creator better (usually Jesus) but not always. Almost all of my Facebook friends are people I share a common interest with outside of politics or religion. It is my rule is that I don’t lose friends over politics or religion because we do share a common experience based on why they are my friends before Facebook came about.

Dark side 3 is, in the case of some of my high school classmates, it makes you wonder what happened in their life that turned them into the people they are now. We all have classmates that have changed so radically in appearance or philosophy you have to go back and make sure that you friended the right person.

There is also a bright side of Facebook

Bright side 1, I learned that some of the people I have “friended” have overcome tremendous odds to survive and become outstanding people. You get to realize that there was some inner fire that created them into a totally new person.

Bright side 2, I have learned that some of people I have friended have tremendous issues with health, kids, extended family but still work hard to stay in touch and see life for the remarkable thing it is. Friends with cancer, organ transplants, difficult economic circumstances all serve to make me be thankful for what and who I have.

Bright side 3, I have been lucky to have friends share pictures of people, places and things that expanded my view of the world. I will never see Cambodia or Vietnam, I may never go to Norway or Scotland, but I am lucky enough to see those place because other people share them on Facebook.

Like any social media you need to be careful who you interact with and don’t go to places Grandma would not approve. We may not like it, but e-mail and Facebook have replaced letters and postcards as communication except for one instance. We still send out Christmas cards and Christmas letters. When you care enough to send the very best ...

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John R. Andersen of Lake Hallie is a former state employee who remains active in the fields of fire prevention, government and education.

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