Dick Maynard Column December 10, 2008

Facing Facebook ain’t for geezers

Old dogs, new tricks, bad mix. Geezers and Facebook? A match made in Hades.

For the three, maybe four, citizens of planet Earth not familiar with Facebook, it is, according to Wikipedia, “a social networking web site where users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school and region to connect and interact with other people. One can also add friends and send them messages, and update their personal profile to notify friends about themselves.” And all I really wanted was to see the most recent pictures of the grandkids.

Created a few years back by some barely out-of-his teens computer geek (now a billionaire)

Facebook has taken the age-40-and-under world by storm.

It’s just complicated enough to stump geezers. This frees the under-40 set from geezer-nation forwards.

It seems the Social Security set, now having finally mastered Internet navigation, insists on flooding the world’s e-mail boxes on a daily basis with every 10-year or older joke in the history of mankind. It’s also true 40-and-unders could not be less interested about what may pop up on the computer screen after some syrupy rhyme on eternal happiness is sent to at least 10 acquaintances. Facebook offers freedom from Internet geezer drivel.

How does Facebook work? To have a friend on Facebook means one has to ask (beg?) someone already subscribing if they will agree to “be your friend.” Once your friendship is “confirmed,” you have access to view each other’s profile, i.e. keep up with details of one another’s lives.

Now, there are those who make friends easily. Our youngest daughter has at least 215 friends.

Others struggle. In the almost five months I’ve been a member, I have, at last count, 17 friends. However, subtracting from those 17 anyone who a) once worked for our radio stations; b) is related to me; or c) agreed 44 years ago to love, honor and not push the “ignore” key, the total number of actual “friends” is three. Most likely there are known serial killers among us who claim more Facebook friends than yours truly.

What are the advantages of Facebook? Other than the aforementioned grandsquirt photos,

I’ve nary a clue. The daughters three, Facebook fanciers all, say it affords them the opportunity to catch up and stay current with people not seen in years. High school buds, college friends, sorority sisters, former coworkers, all have made an encore appearance in their lives thanks to Facebook.

Still, even though permission has been granted, peering at an acquaintance’s profile feels quite voyeuristic. On life’s guilt scale, it ranks somewhere between reading a diary without permission and window peeping. You know, like watching a TV reality show without commercials.

Even my daughters admit it makes them a bit uncomfortable to know what, at any moment, a friend from high school’s cousin is doing, thanks to the “status updates” Facebook provides.
Status updates? Yep. And don’t even get me started on “poking,” sending drinks that don’t exist, “flairs,” saving a rainforest by sending each other virtual flowers or finding out what kind of cocktail or Starbucks drink you are. It’s like “Let’s pretend” for adults.

Still, like any geezer, even on Facebook, if you want to be a friend, just ask to see pictures of my grandchildren.

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