By Anessa V. Cohen

Years ago, keeping up with whatever was going on in the community was based on the people living here spreading the news by mouth. On a typical day, neighbors and friends would either be talking to each other through open windows when the houses were close enough or on their stoop or front porch or would get together for coffee and discuss what was happening around them.

The men would be in shul for the minyanim each day and would learn the main news of the day of what was going on in town and around them and then would come home and bring their wives and families up to date on what they had heard at shul that day.

When e-mail arrived, we thought we had gone to heaven! Now we could e-mail gobs of information back and forth with the flip of a button and even send it to large groups of people at one time without having to rewrite whatever we were sending each time, the way we might have done with a letter.

And then came Facebook! I think Facebook has become the most amazing medium of staying close with family and friends ever invented! Whereas we heard from many sources outside of our neighborhood of all the bad things Facebook has generated and possible intrusions, I find Facebook the best tool for being the most up to date yenta on what’s going on here in our neighborhood without even trying!

I can go to Facebook at any time of the day and compare notes with friends and neighbors or just read their posts to find out the latest important stuff going on locally.

How else would I know what unadvertised special is at the supermarket that day, whose fruits and vegetables are fresher in which store, if I am the only one that did not get mail that day, or–a real critical issue–what everyone’s making for supper and who baked what this week?

I can find out if Central Avenue is in gridlock, and whether I should shop elsewhere today, or maybe that there is an error on El Al fares and if I hurry I can get a plane ticket for $50 (yeah right!) if I book it before the error is discovered.

If I could not compare notes with everyone in the neighborhood on these vital issues on Facebook, I might worry that the garbagemen and mailman were only skipping my house or maybe (G‑d forbid) that no one was sending me any mail!

I can be kept up to the minute on things happening here better than those people we used to read about in olden days, who used to sit by their windows or in front of the general store so they could know what was going on in their neighborhood.

Getting the latest on Facebook from my friends and neighbors keeps me abreast of everything happening right here–better than a newspaper could ever do! I know the minute a helicopter is flying above us and why it is here, even if I may not have heard it. I know when there has been an accident on Peninsula Boulevard or gridlock on Rockaway Turnpike–posted in case I might be going that way. I know which schools are open and which are closed for holidays or snow days even though I have no children in school anymore–everyone thoughtfully keeps me in the loop! I know whose garbage has been picked up and whose has mysteriously not!

Politically, I know where each of my neighbors and friends stands on every issue without having to offer my opinion if I choose not to. I know every friend and neighbor’s vacation and simcha plans and they generously post pictures so I should not miss anything.

Bar mitzvahs and aufrufs in shul? No problem! I just check into the Five Towns Community e-mail posts and I get all the mazal tovs and simchas on the calendar for each of the shuls in the neighborhood! Now there is no excuse for me not knowing who is having a bar mitzvah or aufruf, or even who is sponsoring a Kiddush and at which shul.

Without leaving my desk, I have more information than I would have had even if I hired a private investigator. The irony is that when I finally bump into my friends and neighbors in person, I am so caught up with everything posted, that there is little new to discuss, other than to compliment them on how good they look and how wonderful everything seems to be. Meetings in the supermarket take just a few minutes now since we have all been on Facebook daily and have little to add to what has already been posted.

So what do I do with the time I save? I can devote more time to real estate and mortgages. v

Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker and a licensed N.Y.S. mortgage originator with over 20 years of experience, offering full-service residential, commercial, and management real-estate services (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and mortgaging services (First Meridian Mortgage) in the Five Towns and throughout the tri-state area. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to

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