In Defense of Time Spent on Facebook

EPSON scanner image
Bescot Railway Station circa 1962: Photograph used with permission of  Ben Brooksbank, under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

Every so often I like to lament the future of humanity.

Usually my diatribes are aimed at two places: smartphones and Facebook. I don’t have a smartphone, though I am known to pilfer my husband’s on occasion. I do have a Facebook account, and frequently spend too much time perusing status updates and outrageous headlines. For the past few weeks I’ve been determined to limit my time on social media to a healthy amount, and not let it become my default mindless activity. Then every so often, something will happen, on the book of face, to remind me that it really is a great little tool.

This week, my dad found a Facebook page for Bescot Railway Station, in my hometown of Walsall. The fan page was for all former drivers and their families. He joined, he connected with a few people, and then the pictures showed up.

My Grandad was a driver at Bescot, my Great Uncle was a driver at Bescot, my Dad was a driver at Bescot. I spent most of my childhood leaving for adventures from that station, sitting in a cab with my Grandad (so I’m told) or playing with my Grandad’s signal lamp in his pantry at home. The sights and sounds, and even smells, of Bescot Station are etched into my memory with so much of my childhood. My Grandad died when I was 16; I was his only grandchild. Next to my dad, he was, at that time, the love of my life. He was a wonderful man.

Good old Facebook. Wonderful 21st Century. Within a very short time of joining the group, people were online remembering my Grandad and my uncle. One old friend and fellow driver sent along two pictures. I’m not going to lie, I burst into tears when I saw them, those happy/sad tears you cry when coming face to face with a wonderful memory of a departed loved one.

dad driver
My Grandad is on the right. Images from Martin Lowry, ex-Bescot Man.
dad driver 2
Image from Martin Lowry

These are not digital; they were taken in the 1960s. They have been in the home of a man I don’t know, and will likely never meet, for about fifty years.

If not for Facebook, my family would never have seen these pictures.

So I may lament the mis-spent youth of today. I may regret the twenty minutes I spend scrolling a news feed. My brain may cramp with every article I read entitled, “Fifteen things you never knew about your favorite…” But I can’t deny that Facebook has brought some pretty amazing things to my life, be it connections with my family far away, or with people I don’t even know.

A fad? Maybe. Annoying? Often. Without merit? Not at all.