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.
Recently we saw the appalling effects of using social network sites to encourage a drinking culture, neck nomination, which has had disastrous consequences. In contrast this week You Tube - the popular video sharing website - has given the world a colourful tiki-tour of Galway, attracting some 70,000 viewers in just two days. It is publicity that cannot be bought.
The four-minute plus video is the work of Kamil Krolak, who moved to Galway from Poland seven years ago. Encouraged to film Galway's own version of Pharrell William's ‘Happy’ from the soundtrack Despicable Me 2, it is a picture of Galway at its most toe-tapping best. The original video has spawned many cover videos from different cities, and now it is Galway's turn. Unbelievably the sun is shining on the recently flooded streets of the Spanish Arch. Add in musicians, dancers, street performers, local businesses, bopping and jiving in the medieval streets of Galway, and the video is an infectious jaunty trip around the city.
The uplifting and positive image of the city is welcome, particularly when it contrasts so sharply to much of the county which remains submerged in water. And with small communities and farmers having taken a non-stop battering, the weather has become another social media event in the last two months. Counting the costs of such widespread damage and destruction is depressing for all those involved and unfortunately such misery can be expected to continue unless serious remedial action is taken - whatever the cost - alongside long-term flood defence.
Here in the city, however, we are blessed that this week as the council moves forward in its plans to challenge for the European Capital of Culture, it has the ideal publicity trailer in Krolak's innovative documentary. And of course there is no better publicity than free publicity - coming from Galway's free newspaper.