As the year draws to a close, it is customary to take stock of what the past 12 months have been about. In terms of Facebook activity, arguably, it has been one of the busiest years ever since its creation. Facebook is increasingly becoming a platform where not only people can catch up or meet up, but also where people can be rallied for causes and where common interests can be shared. More than ever, the virtual world of Facebook is offering people the opportunity to express themselves in ways that were not available before. As we take virtual tour of the social networking site, there are certain Facebook activities that stand out for 2011.
“Indignons-nous!”
On the local scene, the whole country has watched with great interest the rise of the WANTED: 15000 Youngsters To Save OUR Future group and its eventual fate. It started off as a promising endeavour to get people rallied together as Mauritians primarily, to deplore the state of the country. Facebook provided a way of rallying people around a cause and by now we are all aware of what happened next. The main lesson to be retained is that it is relatively easy to gather people but to manage it subsequently, more than good intentions are needed. Vision and proper planning are very important in these projects. The group is still active with more than 20 000 members but numbers are not enough to make a group fruitful. Petty fights and a lack of open, intelligent communication has provoked a decrease in intelligent interaction, and therefore lack of progress in what it initially set out to do: try to fight against the ills of the country collectively.
The same can be said for the Occupy movements. The latter started off as peaceful protests against the great enemy that capitalism has become in recent years. Occupiers have targeted main financial spots around the world to show their discontent and distrust in financial institutions. They used Facebook as a medium par excellence to communicate their plans and happenings from different locations. However, attention and support have fizzled out due to a lack of organisation and proper direction. The Occupy movements have given people an outlet for frustration but Occupiers are discovering that strategy is very important in trying to fight a system.
Perhaps the most successful use of Facebook in terms of protests has been by the youths involved in the Arab Spring. With technology on their side, they have not only been able to chronicle their daily struggles and small victories but have also let the world in their cause. They have had massive support thanks to Facebook since reports and posts were not from reporters whose reports were possibly edited but by people who posted unedited footage of what was really happening on the ground. Moreover, even if curfews and bans were in place, they still found a way to communicate to the world at large via the social networking site. The fire lit by Mohamed Bouazizi on the 17th December 2010 has spread far beyond his desolate little town and has now reached Putin’s throne. Undoubtedly, Facebook will still play an important role in the Russians’ fight for their country, that’s one to watch for.
Political Party Groups and spin-off groups
The Facebook walls of political parties have also had practically no rest this year. With the scandal of the century and its aftermath, people have been very busy venting out their anger or defending politicians of their preference. One thing is for sure; politicians are well defended virtually as much as they receive virtual bashing. Some politicians also touch base with the public through Facebook but very few of them are actually doing the postings themselves.
Some people who felt restricted by certain rules and regulations on official Facebook walls of political parties have created their own FB pages. While they still ascribe to the ‘ideology’ of the party that they support, they have more freedom in expressing themselves and conducting debates more objectively as can be seen in the increasingly popular Club des Militants. Other groups, like Citizen Mauritius (Citoyen Mauricien), have also been created as a spin off of whatever has been happening in the country; however, the novelty in them is that they mostly promote patriotism in its pure form, without any political attachment.  
Cultural Facebook
 It is now commonplace to see the little Facebook and Twitter icon on movie posters and in the promotion of other forms of art. Facebook has become another means of advertising movies, books, art exhibitions, music bands, actors and others involved in the entertainment and culture business. This is all the better for the public as we get to have a sneak peek of what’s coming. Moreover, we get a chance to be connected to a wider range of people from different parts of the world who share the same interests. This year, The Lion King’s Facebook page has revived many people’s childhood. Now, fans of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo contain their impatience for the movie by constantly commenting on its FB page.
    Locally, it is well worth mentioning the budding writers from the Writers’ Inc. group who have delighted many a person with their creativity. While the Forum page allows this talent to be savoured by a larger audience, adherers to its Facebook page get a chance to see the full range of talent that is out there.
A virtual goodbye to 2011
As 2012 knocks at the door, Facebook gains in strength in terms of connecting people on so many different levels both locally and internationally. We can rest assured that the future of our country is well represented virtually. Aspiring and existing politicians, political detractors who want to improve the country, budding and existing creative people on Facebook are all a microcosmic representation of our society. On an international level, Facebook will undoubtedly provide a virtual way of following so many different things in 2012 from elections, to fall of regimes to the Oscars. Until then, goodbye.
Signing out for 2011,