In the 10 years this month since Facebook was founded - initially among students at Harvard University - it has become an accepted and acceptable worldwide media tool.
Never before have the private lives of people become so public - the consequences of which have yet to be fully understood. We may still lament the lost art of carefully crafted penmanship, or even a good old chinwag over the phone, but, like it or not, social networking has become a valuable and unstoppable way to shorten distances between family and friends, to connect and communicate, to gossip and inform, to advertise and promote.
I remember years ago covering Western Health Board meetings in far flung corners of the province where the matron of the hosting hospital would provide fine fillets of salmon and local sean nos singers to entertain the councillor-filled Board so that they wouldn’t starve on the return leg of their expenses-paid journeys.
The Health Boards were a microcosm of the political culture that we sometimes think is a thing of the past. Among those members was a councillor from Mayo called Padraig Cosgrave whose riposte to every Board request for funding for experts was to say "sure what is an expert but a local lad who went away and came back."
For most of the time, it just sits there, the pretty backdrop to the postcard that is our city and county, calm and rocking, its gentle waves lovingly lapping at our coast like a friendly puppy. And because it has been such an acquiescent friend, we have tended to disregard all of its possibilities, the good and the bad.
This week we have seen the enormous, ferocious, animalistic power of the sea.