I spend way too much time on Facebook. My "friends" are a mish mosh of both friends and colleagues. At first, I was uncomfortable with the blurring of the lines between the two. Now, I'm realizing it's oddly familiar.

I grew up for many years in a small town in Northwest Florida (Shout out to Marianna!). Granted, I was a kid back then. But, I grew up in a town where personal and professional relationships went seamlessly back and forth. They had too. We were all bound by the borders of a very small community where everyone literally knew everyone.

My parent's family attorney went to our church. My dentist lived two doors down from us. My 7th grade history teacher lived across the street and frequently gave me a ride home on rainy days. My mother's office was on the court house square. So was the family business of my best friend. For a time, my mom rented office space in the same building as the local radio station owned by my other best friend's father. I bought my jeans from Daffins department store because I went to school with the owner's daughter.

I could go on and on with this.

Facebook is quickly turning into a collection of just about everyone I know (except my friend, Zelda, who refuses for fear of the daily time suck). I'm past the discomfort of mixing business and pleasure and have now moved into a new feeling of liberation.

Why shouldn't the people I work with and network with know the personal, human side of me?

I believe we've come full circle.

The benefits of small town businesses:

- Customers are fiercely loyal because the relationship is based on connection, trust and congeniality.

- The most powerful marketing tool doesn't cost a dime; word of mouth.

- People will forgive a slightly higher price or a little less selection because THEY LIKE YOU!

- Friends and colleagues are invested in the success of the same community. There's mutual support and it's proactive. Everyone wants you to succeed.

Sound familiar?

Could Facebook be the new small town?

Let's hope Wal-Mart doesn't get involved.