Over the last few years, Facebook has made a lot of changes. Everything from profile design to privacy features have been overhauled at least once. In the interim, Facebook users have raised their voices in protest, only to acquiesce a few days later and continue to use the social network as normal. I’ve been using Facebook since 2004, as I was attending one of the first colleges that could access Facebook at the time, and have followed similar behavior patterns more than once. In the end, though, I realize that abandoning Facebook entirely will only do me, and my social life, more harm than good. If you’re not happy with Facebook, or even hate it, there is good reason to change your attitude.

In case you haven’t noticed that you now have 1000 or more friends, these friends likely include the majority of your previous classmates, other friends, and family. Do you dread the idea of family reunions, or even answering the phone when your cousin calls? With Facebook, you can keep tabs on your family without ever having to call them to ask how they are doing (whether out of either obligation or prodding from you parents). It also allows you to keep up with classmates and old and new friends. Where else can you get a daily update from everyone with whom you graduated high school? If you’re not looking forward to your high school reunion, you can avoid the party and still read all the good gossip, via Facebook.

While the idea of abandoning Facebook for a safer, more private, or easier to use social network sounds ideal, the reality is that Facebook is quickly approaching 1 billion users. That means more people want to join you on Facebook — not less. That means that you will have a better chance of finding friends and family on Facebook than any other social network. It also means that Facebook is still the primary way that social network users communicate and share with each other. Sure, some may also be on Google+, and/or Twitter. But these social networks have evolved with a different purpose other than just socializing and sharing updates about our lives and things otherwise important to us.

If Facebook’s privacy issues concern you — and they should — consider doing a little extra reading and changing every privacy setting possible to suit your needs. And while everything you say, do, and read via Facebook is documented by Facebook, the reality is that the majority of Internet users have decided that Facebook is where they can be found and where they will share information. Unless this doesn’t matter to you, then Facebook users — and Facebook haters — should make sure they use Facebook the way they feel is more appropriate, safe, and secure. Otherwise, you may find yourself disconnected from friends and family, potentially missing important communications.

Would you ever leave Facebook for another social network? If you have already, what were your reasons? Let us know in the comments.