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The power of Facebook making connections easier than ever

APRILL BRANDON

By APRILL BRANDON
Sept. 24, 2010 at 4:24 a.m.

When Joshua Jerrad Garza was trying to plan his 10-year high school reunion last year, he had little luck locating classmates via mail and phone, especially since a large majority of them had moved away from Victoria.

The effort was so unsuccessful, in fact, that there never ended up being a reunion for the 1999 class of Stroman High School.

Fast forward to today where in less than two months, Garza has found and contacted more than 300 former Raiders for a belated reunion on Oct. 2. But forget snail mail, or even e-mail, and phone calls. He did it all via the social networking site Facebook.

"Facebook has allowed us to utilize e-mail and text messaging for instant connection. I strongly believe without social media this would not have come together so quickly," Garza, who now lives in Austin, said. "Facebook lets us manage, communicate and encourage each other to get the reunion to happen."

With more than 500 million users, Facebook has become the world's largest social networking site, far surpassing the number of users on Twitter and Myspace combined. The web site has become so popular and ingrained into our daily lives that even Hollywood has taken notice. On Oct. 1, the new movie "The Social Network" will hit theaters across the country.

Although Facebook is only 6 years old, the movie chronicles the tumultuous early days of the site and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, according to the Associated Press.

While Facebook began as a way for students at Harvard to connect, today it's now a place where people of all ages can log on. Even businesses and organizations are using the website's massive reaching power. Locally, entities such as the University of Houston-Victoria, Theatre Victoria, The Golden Gecko, Tobacco Junction, PAWS of Victoria and the Victoria Chamber of Commerce have pages on Facebook. Recently, the Victoria Police Department also got in on the action, creating a profile they debuted last week, which quickly garnered more than 1,000 friends.

So just what is it about Facebook that within only a few short years it has garnered so many users and helped revolutionize the way we communicate?

"I feel that social media is an open forum for discussion and opinions for everyone. In the society we live in today, people want to be heard and to also know what others are thinking; support without having to pry into someone's personal life," Garza said. "To me, I see you status update as virtual 'soapboxes.'"

A marketing professional and writer for an Austin publication, Garza added that Facebook is indispensable to him now.

"One of the first questions I ask the people I meet as we exchange contact information is 'Do you have a Facebook account?' in both my business and social life," he said. "As a 20-something living in the modern world, I cannot see how I would function without social media. It is moving as fast as I am and allowing me to expand my network even further than I could ever imagine."


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