Saturday, September 22, 2012
Yesterday evening I noticed that a friend of mine posted on Facebook that she couldn't get her wireless printer working with her new router at home. She was asking if anybody might be able to walk her through the appropriate troubleshooting steps to get it working again. While I'm not a computer expert by training, I've fought with my own computers and network enough to be able to solve most problems like these. I let her know that I'd be happy to swing by today to see if I could get things working.
As promised, I stopped in this afternoon to give it a go. I won't go into all the gory details of the many things I tried, but suffice it to say that in the end I was able to get everything working properly. We also had a nice chance to catch up since we hadn't seen each other in awhile, so it was a good afternoon all the way around.
As much as we all sometimes get annoyed at Facebook (and for good reason!), this was one of those great examples of the value of a real social network. My friend had a need; and she simply had to let her network know what her challenge was so that someone from the network (me, in this case) could respond to help her out. How would this have been done prior to Facebook? I suppose she might have started making calls to all her friends to see if anyone might be able to help. Or I guess she could have sent a group e-mail to lots of people. Pretty inefficient, either way.
I had another thought as I considered what took place today: I was wondering if I would ask for help in that way (or in any way!)? For some of us, men especially, it's difficult to ask for help. We've been socialized (not that it's an excuse, just an explanation) to feel like needing to ask for help is a weakness and something to be avoided. Intellectually I can see how silly that is, and yet, emotionally, there's definitely a strong resistance to asking for help. How beautifully simple it is when you let go of that reluctance. My friend needed help. She asked for it. I responded. Problem solved. Friendship advanced. Simple, and good.