Last night Meredith met up with some women from the neighborhood she didn’t know. She’s part of a Facebook group for moms, and last week somebody posted a kind of general invitation for group members to meet up during Lent. My sense is that it was really positive.
In all the hand-wringing over social media’s effect on the social fabric (and it is serious), we risk missing this kind of thing. This is how to use Facebook–to facilitate in-person connection, both with people you already know and with those you don’t. With those you don’t, the function of an online group is partly to help you screen for affinities, which lowers the barriers to in-person connection.
It’s three years now since Meredith and her merry band of rabble-rousers welcomed a family of refugees from Syria during the swirling turmoil of the travel ban. What followed was at least a year’s worth of intense collaboration to help that family get situated, much of which was facilitated through the Facebook group. Two years on, those connections are still there, and it turns out that one of the women at the meetup last night was the one in charge of the refugee welcome project.
Facebook groups can do good. Rather, enterprising and brave people like Meredith and her friends can use Facebook groups to do good.