I have decided Facebook is the social equivalent to my parents' front porch when I was little. My reasons:
- both are used at your convenience to pass leisure time pleasantly
- a front porch is public to your neighbors, FB is public to friends.
- when you are on the front porch, you can go back in when you get uncomfortable. On FB you can choose exactly how you present yourself, who sees the information, and even block people from whom you want privacy.
- in both settings you get a general idea of what is going on with acquaintances but it is in rather a hit-or-miss fashion and requires no planning or special effort on your part.
- you can wave or smile from your porch, or hit the like button on FB
- you can talk if it suits you by waving someone up to your porch or patting the swing, or by leaving comments.
- gossip is easy in either setting.
- it is important to remember that although FB asks us to call many people we would just smile to if on our porch "friend" they are more of casual acquaintances.