In Your FACE-book

I am 52 years old and admittedly a frequent user of the well know social web site-Facebook.

I’m not sure exactly when I joined.  I suppose somewhere in my settings I could find that particular date if I searched hard enough; but it has been several years now.

When I first signed on, I did so more out of curiosity to see what all the fuss was about.  I was not impressed; more likely due to the fact I had no idea what it was suppose to do for me.  I kept hearing the girls talk about it…and ‘writing on walls’ and posting pics, etc.  But obviously that only works well when you are sharing this phenomenon with other like minded people who you are connected with on that site.

When I signed up, I didn’t have any ‘facebook friends’ to speak of.  So I lost interest quickly.

Months later, I got an email notification that some former classmate who was in my 4th grade class when I lived in Italy was wanting to know if I was the Tony Corso who was in their class. They ‘found me’ on Facebook..  I had faint memories of her at best, but my curiosity was peaked again so I began to delve in some more.

I would agree with those who suggest people of my generation need to stay technologically relevant.

The reason I have stayed rather plugged in to FB is due to the excessive amount of time I spend on my computer working on pictures.

Excessive might be an understatement.  But having the two monitors there on my desk, I can work on photo processing and also stay somewhat plugged in to what is going on in the cyber world.

Now I am aware that there is no shortage of opinions that people have of Facebook.

Last time I heard, there were some 800 billion users around the world who were on there.  That’s a lot of people plugged in to each other.

So I just felt compelled to offer some opinions and observations of my own.  You might even ‘like’ what I have to say.  Or you could even ‘unfriend’ me for having posted one piece of dribble too much.

I currently have 777 ‘friends’ on Facebook.

I think I’d be doing good to recognize a fourth of those people.

I don’t ‘friend’ students. Just a personal thing for me being, a school teacher.  I sometimes relent when they graduate…but I’ve discovered I have little in common with 18 and 19 year olds these days.

There are some things about Facebook that irritate me, or features that are continuously being tweaked, that annoy me.  But I just find it silly to complain about something that I get for FREE.  So I rarely voice those gripes.

One of the things that I am extremely grateful for in having plugged in to Facebook, is the reconnecting it has facilitated with many of my former classmates from years gone by.  Being raised as an Army Brat, I never really had a hometown to go back to.  You grow up traveling all over the world and it’s not uncommon to lose track of people you went to school with during various stages of your life.

But Facebook changed that for many of us.  Having reconnected with loads of former classmates from my earlier years has enabled me to reestablish ties with friends I would have otherwise never seen or talked to again. In fact, two years ago, a group of us actually pulled off a reunion of sorts and met in Arizona for a long weekend.  Most of us had not seen each other in 30 years.  It was a great time and  we have Facebook to thank for that.

I like when I log in seeing what former classmates are doing.  It reminds me of days gone by and riding a bus in to school, or passing them in the halls and nodding heads to say ‘hey’ or sharing a lunch break with them while making small talk.  It’s not deep stuff…but just that familiarity of knowing they’re ‘close by’ that makes me smile.

I have never really seen Facebook as a place  to ‘pour my heart out’ to hundreds of people I don’t know.  Don’t get me wrong, I can be serious when I want to, but Facebook seems more of a light-hearted place to share silly drivel of sorts.

Obviously, many people feel contrary.  I’m not quite sure why people spill their guts or air their dirty laundry on Facebook.  It unnerves me at times when I see ‘friends’ airing their grievances of family issues in a public forum.  Does it really accomplish anything?

As one of the multitude of ‘postcards’ with catchy sayings declared one time: “It’s Facebook. It’s not a diary”.  I could not agree more.

I post a lot of pictures.  It’s what I do.  And when I post a picture of me, usually it has my family with me.  I like seeing other people’s family shots too.  I just haven’t quite figured out why people keep posting solo pictures of themselves.  All the time.  I guess they need affirmation or something?  Have you noticed how many of those pictures are taken in their car?  It’s like a camera is mounted on their rear view mirror.  Interesting.

I don’t mind political debate. Lots of people use Facebook to do their campaigning.  I just don’t think any of us is really ‘converting’ other folks from the other side, back to our side.  But I guess it’s good for people  to find a voice and practice communicating their ideas and belief. If it leads to heartfelt discussion in the arena of shared ideas, then that can be good.  But the repeated bomb throwing does little to make Facebook a hospitable place to visit.  I admit to instigating my own share of discussions that tend to get heated.

Facebook was first designed for college students on campus.  Us older folks ran them off I’m told.  My girls are still on Facebook but rarely use it.  And I suspect it’s not ‘cool’ for them to have dialogue with us on Facebook.  I’m just glad they have not ‘unfriended’ me yet.

Like it or not, there is no denying that Facebook is one of the great social phenomena’s in our life time. I’m not sure that stockholders are all that impressed with it these days but that’s another subject.

All in all…I think it’s a pretty neat deal.  I like being able to halfway keep up with what is happening in people’s lives who live near and far.  I think being plugged in enables you to have great conversation starters when you actually run in to a ‘friend’ in person; asking relevant questions to topics you’ve seen them post about, be it their kids, their jobs, their hobbies…etc.  And who doesn’t like the flood of birthday greetings you get once a year?

I have to admit that at times, I wonder what would happen if someone suddenly pulled the plug and Facebook instantly was…No more.

Now that would be a study of the ages for sociologists.