I've been living in Silicon Valley for the last 12 years, and I was in Boston for 10 years before that, but I spent the first 16 years of my life growing up in a small town in western New York called Batavia. According to Google Maps, it would take me 1 day and 16 hours to drive 2717 miles from my old hometown to my current hometown.
My parents still live in Batavia in the house where I grew up. My bedroom is still in tact with beaten up children's furniture, paint, and wallpaper I chose when I was about 5 years old (pearly white dresser, lime green walls, pastel-colored wallpaper with rainbows and houses).
Batavia is a town of less than 20,000 people located halfway between Buffalo and Rochester. It is about 30 miles away from Buffalo, and lucky us, it is probably the last town within Lake Erie's snowbelt. In other words, we get all the snow that Buffalo gets without the benefits of living in a big city. But the good thing is that we have awesome chicken wings, those that are known to the rest of the world as Buffalo wings. If you're ever driving on the New York State Thruway between Buffalo and Rochester, make sure to stop by Batavia and hit Pontillo's Pizzeria on Main Street to get some of the best pizza and wings you've ever had. And you can stop by Batavia Downs to bet on a few horse races. But don't drive too far and don't blink, because if you go about 1 or 2 miles away from the Thruway exit in any direction you'll be out of the main part of Batavia and you may be in the middle of a corn field. I kind of think of Batavia as middle America- a small town with a high school, a mall, a Dunkin Donuts, and a few pizza joints. Batavia's first and only Starbucks just opened a couple months ago. My mom goes there on Sunday morning with her friends, but they only get coffees, not cappuccinos and lattes. Overall, Batavia is a modest town with down-to-earth, friendly people and I think it was a great place to grow up.
I lost track of most of my friends from Batavia, but the funniest thing has been happening over the last few months. They are now coming out of the woodwork and we're getting back in touch. How? Batavia is now on Facebook!
I've been an active facebook user for a couple years. Many of my Silicon Valley friends are on Facebook. Lots of people at HP are on Facebook. I can take the credit/blame for getting many people to join. Many of my college friends are on Facebook (I went to a techie college). But I was quite surprised when I first started getting Facebook friend invites from my fellow Batavians.
I now get status updates from my high school and elementary school friends, my brother's friends, my sister's friends, my band friends, my soccer friends, people who I was a babysitter for, and people who I babysat. Most of us seemed to have turned into respectable adults. Some people are generous enough to share family pictures. I can poke them, I can leave a comment for them, or I can just passively watch them. The coolest thing is that I can become friends with them even if I don't have time to talk to them.
I often wonder how long different web sites will be around. I thought Facebook would come and go. But I have to say, now that middle America is getting onto Facebook, it will probably be around to stay.
Welcome to Facebook, Batavia!