Out of date, looking to save Face(book)

I can tell I’m hopelessly out of date ,based on my lack of social media presence. I’m pretty sure the only two people on this planet not on Facebook are me and Sakishtar, a 109 year-old Buddhist monk in a remote, primitive southern Indonesian village. (He is however, on Twitter).

I don’t have anything against Facebook — just the opposite. If I joined it, I’d become obsessed, like those people you know who post incessantly to the detriment of their personal hygiene. (“I can’t take a shower now! These people need to know where I am and what I’m eating!”)

Roughly 1 billion of you are on Facebook, says Arbitron/Edison Research, and you post, on average, 36 times per month. So take 1 billion people and multiply that by 36 posts each. Do you realize how many interesting posts that comes out to? That’s right, 4.

And maybe that’s the point. What’s bland and boring to most people is incredibly fascinating to each person’s inner circle. I personally don’t have anything interesting to share, as most of you who read this on Wednesdays will attest.

To see what all the fuss is about, I browsed Facebook using my wife’s account. This was a mistake, because she got a little upset to learn that she now “likes” 17 different Bronco players and the “Miss Hooters USA” pageant.

Facebook is incredibly addictive. Or at least, that’s what Marie told me when she came out and saw me on the computer at 3 a.m.

Once you start, it’s all you think about. You need it daily, and you don’t ever stop. You begin to withdraw from society, paranoia sinks in, and it makes you scratch your arms a lot. Or maybe that’s heroin.

I started my Facebook experiment by reading the postings of people I knew. Then I spied the entries of casual acquaintances, which lead to full-out snooping on people I went to high school with. By the time I was done I could have worked for the Obama administration.

Facebook was created so that people could use the Internet to easily connect with people they don’t want to connect with in real life.

It allows you to digitally reunite with people from your past, like, say, old high school acquaintances, while letting them know what you’re doing now via photos and updates. This is fine and all, except that the guy who sat behind me in sophomore year trigonometry is not dying to see pictures of my 1-year-old son, even though he is really cute and fun to cuddle with. (My son, that is).

While I get the appeal, there’s a lot about Facebook that’s phony. Take the concept of “friends,” for example.

According to Arbitron, the average Facebook user has 303 friends. I don’t know if I’ve met 303 people in my life. I’m guessing that for the most part, those 303 aren’t true friends. A real friend will bail you out of jail, or remove shotgun pellets from your leg, or tell you that you should NOT be hitting on the girl with the facial hair, whereas Facebook friends are basically just people you vaguely know who have both Internet service and a willingness to click a “confirm” button.

The constant “like us!” pleas are particularly nauseating. For a while, the sign out front of the Horizon Drive Applebees read, “Like us on Facebook.” “Why?” I thought. I will occasionally and reluctantly pay for your overpriced, watered-down margaritas, but I refuse to go online and act as your unpaid spokesman.

If someone came up to you and said, “Will you like me?” you’d slowly back away and hope to never see them again, yet somehow businesses think this is some sort of captivating tag line.

All I know is while its user base has dropped by 10 million, Facebook remains incredibly popular. How can I tell?

Sakishtar sent me a “friend” request.

Reach Steve at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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