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Moccasin telegraph has gone digital

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FOR a while now, Facebook has been battling Twitter for the hearts of social networking butterflies everywhere. As far as aboriginal people go, my bets are still on Facebook.

Facebook is really popular with aboriginal people — at least with me, my friends and family.

And like Martha Stewart says, it’s a good thing.

This is especially so when you’re a transplanted urban aboriginal person living far from home. With a Facebook account it’s relatively easy and cheap to keep in touch with friends and family from the rez, or any other place they might be living.

Aboriginal "Facebookers" are loyal, too. Maybe we love Facebook so much because it’s the one place where we have complete control over our status, without any government interference.

But seriously, Facebook can be an addictive timewaster, but it’s also a great asset to our communities. It’s great incentive to get everyone online and computer-savvy.

It’s amazing, if you think about it. People living in small, isolated communities suddenly aren’t that cut off from the outside world. That is, as long as they have access to a computer and Facebook.

I’ve seen elders online, posting jokes and wisdom in the cyber-world. Say hello to Facebook and you are saying goodbye to the digital divide in aboriginal country.

It’s not all about fun and games, however.

In the past year I’ve been given a few online lessons in Cree and Ojibway, as well as a bit of French. I’ve gotten great advice on everything from cowboy boots to healthy cooking recipes and hairdressers.

Facebook is a great way to stay informed.

I can find out the latest results of any band election fastest on Facebook, as well as who’s getting married or having a baby. I’ve noticed even band office election nominees get in on the action and do a little campaigning on Facebook.

It’s free, so why not?

And don’t forget all the great photos we can share. I might have missed the wedding but at least I can check out the pics.

It used to be that I would hear about an aboriginal event from a friend, or by reading an email or a poster. Now it’s all about Facebook when it comes to fundraisers and protests.

Facebook is where I usually learn about an old friend or extended family member who has passed away.

Since the moccasin telegraph has gone digital, it travels faster than ever. So be wary of what you say online, because everyone and your granny will hear about it.

And who really knows how long that online information is going stay out there?

Saying something on Facebook is like yelling out loud in a public place and finding out someone recorded it and uploaded it onto YouTube. Well, you get the idea.

Some First Nation communities even have their own page so they can let people know about winter road closures and job postings.

And when you need a friend to chat with, there’s always Facebook friends. Maybe Facebook is helping people when they need it the most; there’s nothing like a shoulder to cry on when you feel alone.

My guess is we’re all getting more educated about world issues, and that’s a good thing.

The way media uses technology now, stories from around the world are big news in mere minutes.

That means there’s no excuse to be misinformed.

Ask questions, read and, of course, Google it.

Maybe embracing technology will become the greatest tool to unite aboriginal people.

Sure, it’s not spurring any social revolutions just yet, but the "Facebook effect" is undeniable in our communities.

It’s a subtle revolution, but a revolution that’s happened all the same.

 

Colleen Simard is a Winnipeg writer.

 

colleen.simard@gmail.com

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