The bright side of Facebook: Becoming friends with friends of friends

Two guys named Chris.

At least for today, let’s follow Eric Idle’s advice — at least when it comes to Facebook.

Yes, I know. It gets easier every day to hate Facebook. And there is a growing list of things I don’t like about it either. But I’ve been reminded this week of things I do still like about the 16-year-old social-media platform with 2.5 billion active monthly users, including:

  • Birthday well wishes from your friends – many of whom you might not otherwise ever hear from.
  • The way it connects friends of friends with each other, creating new friendships in the process.

It’s that latter Facebook attribute I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing again this week.

Dale Schmitt, a high school classmate and regular reader of this blog, is a recent member of the Facebook community. I think he may have joined in the past year. A couple of days ago, he sent me a message through Facebook Messenger, asking how I knew Christopher Maharry, someone he had known in college 30-plus years ago.

It’s been my experience that this sort of thing is common on Facebook. My wife has become good friends with friends of mine from college. Other friends of mine from college and high school have become friends on Facebook with people I’ve known at later stops in life, but with whom they have never met in person.

Michael and Shelly Maharry

Maharry and I met just about six years ago when his sister-in-law and my good friend, Shelly Maharry, introduced us. Shelly and her husband, Michael, were members of the bicycling team I took on RAGBRAI to raise money for Muscatine Center for Social Action and to promote awareness for the homeless in Iowa.

Shelly had brought Chris, who owns a portrait photography business in Des Moines, to MCSA to take some photos for the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine, where Shelly worked at the time.

We’ve been Facebook friends ever since. In high school, Chris knew Brenda Barger, whom I met in grade school. Through the two of them, I’ve become friends on Facebook with enough of their friends that I might almost qualify as an honorary member of the West Des Moines Valley High School Class of 1985.

Being a friend on Facebook with Chris is a good thing because he consistently posts some of the most positive and uplifting things of just about everyone I know on social media. He is someone who definitely looks on the bright side of life.

So, it was almost expected, that he referred to our mutual friend Dale as “a fun/kind man … or at least he was 32 years ago.”

For his part, Dale shared this really great photo from his days at Simpson. This sort of thing is why I still like Facebook even though I increasingly dislike much about it.

Then-Simpson College tennis coach Dick Starr, from the left, posed for this photo in the 1980s with Christopher Maharry and Dale Schmitt. This may have been the last time Chris was photographed not wearing a bow tie.

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