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Facebook: Hype or Truth?

I hadn’t heard from Mary – a childhood friend – in 30 years. But here it was. An invitation to be a Friend on Facebook. Her photo hardly resembled the petite sprite I remembered in elementary school. I clicked on the Facebook link and then hit “confirm”. Like magic, we were Friends again.

Within 30 minutes of joining Facebook, I had invitations to “friend” dozens of long lost elementary and junior high school classmates across the country. Friends I hadn’t seen in ages. I spent hours clicking through their photos. I quickly realized that “friending” one friend alerted hundreds of other friends, letting them know I was now on Facebook. I was hooked.

As Communications Director for the Louisiana State Office of AARP, I immediately recognized the value of Facebook with the 50+ population. Facebook is a simple and easy way to stay connected to friends and family. Grandchildren and great grandchildren are just a click away. And those photos!

I told my 77-year old dad about Facebook. I thought it might be a good idea to jump start his social life since my mom had passed over a year ago. This was an easy way to reconnect with friends from decades ago and stay in touch with family.

“It’s fun!” I said. “Making friends on Facebook is just as simple as when you were a kid on the playground. You can stay in touch with people much easier, letting them know what’s happening in your life.”

Within days I had an invitation from him to be his friend. His page was full of photos and messages. He too had friends from all over the country who posted their latest adventures and deals at the Farmer’s Market.

A survey released by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that social media users ages 50-64 grew 88 percent in a one-year period, from 25 percent in April 2009 to 47 percent in May 2010. Use among those ages 65 and older grew 100 percent, from 13 percent to 26 percent.

500 million people are on Facebook. Are you one of them? Give it a try by joining me at AARP LA where I post the latest news, events and trivia on our Facebook page.

I look forward to Friending you.

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