Goodness - a usenet search just stumbled upon my first ever experience, in 1995, of the power of the internet to make things easier.
My wife and I were planning a trip to Vancouver and wanted to get the ferry over to Vancouver Island. I asked a question about the ferries in rec.travel.usa-canada. I so clearly remember being blown away by the fact that people who I had never met, and never will, would go out of their way to help someone with no obvious hope of reward.
This was formative to say the least. In fact it changed my life. I would not have had the confidence in the internet's potential to help people help each other, which allowed me to do what I did at the BBC, without this first step. I find it fascinating that I had the luck to experience this nearly sixteen years ago and so many are only now getting the opportunity to experience the same power through Facebook.