Dear Friends: Facebook is, like, so lame
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There comes a time in every life when a person must take the plunge, break from the old routine, embrace the future. So it was with me and Facebook.
I saw many of my friends and relatives sign up for Facebook in recent years. But being somewhat of an anti-social person working not in new media but grumpy old media, I resisted doing so myself as an individual act of defiance.
I did not begrudge the whole world their "friends" but I would have my privacy and integrity. And I would keep my own definition of friend -- i.e., a good mate in the Australian sense who'll buy you a beer when you're down to your last dollar and stand up for you when someone calls you a useless old coot by insisting that, no, you are not useless.
No doubt, the social media police would one day come for me, perhaps sending me a text message telling me to come out of my cubicle with my hands and iPad up. But I intended to defy them,
Unfortunately, the bosses here at the word factory decided that all of us who write columns should have Facebook accounts so we could scan reader comments attached by Facebook users to our work online. The idea was that we could reply to our critics, for example: "You don't know what you are talking about" and "Have you ever thought of getting a sense of humor?"
So, reflecting on the need for a paycheck in order to pay my mortgage, I said, "Oh, OK!" as anybody would. Thus was my doom sealed. I signed up.
I cannot pretend to have been a complete neophyte in social media because long ago in a moment of passing madness I signed up for LinkedIn. This is a network for business professionals who wish to form valuable contacts, the very thing I am not.
In fact, people on LinkedIn don't invite you to be their friend but to add you as a connection. I do not want to connect with anyone; it strikes me as mildly obscene.
Now every passing day brings new requests from people who want to connect with me on LinkedIn. Having led them on like an old tease, I feel terrible about ignoring their requests, but I don't know how to unlink myself from this predicament.
Indeed, when the terrible Day of Judgment comes, I fear that I will stand before the dread bar of justice as the angry crowd roars behind me: "He wouldn't connect with me on LinkedIn" and "He wouldn't be my friend on Facebook." But perhaps St. Peter will take this as a positive.
Despite these fears, my first month or so on Facebook hasn't turned out too badly. The people I have "friended" or who have "friended me" are an exotic lot. (By the way, I hate that word "friended." Whatever happened to "befriend"? It be gone.)
I have limited friend approvals to those who have actually met me, which is probably contrary to the spirit of Facebook. I have cricket-playing friends, some old Aussie friends (ever to be relied upon for a cold beer), as well as my kids, my wife's relatives, journalists and other random eccentrics, including some readers who have met me. It is nice occasionally to see what they are up to, but it would make a terrible obsession.
As it is, Facebook's protocols are not completely to my taste. People can click to say they "Like" a posting. "Like" is among the most anemic of words. It covers almost all situations not involving anger or sorrow. It has no passion and verve.
Worst yet, readers don't have any icon to click on to say they "Hate" something, or that they are appalled, disgusted or even mildly peeved. This is a flaw, because this is America, where it is unnatural for people to go around liking everything all the time.
As you know, the initial public offering of Facebook shares was made on Friday -- and by close of business yesterday, the stock price had fallen 18.5 percent.
Perhaps some traditional investors were like me, trying to get their minds around why something not materially substantial could be worth so many billions of dollars. After all, Facebook isn't steelworks, mines or ships, but instead just an ethereal thing, an idea taken flight on gossamer wings made of capricious public support.
Or perhaps they just learned that I had signed up, rendering the whole enterprise instantly un-cool, just as happened when I danced the Macarena once and immediately killed the fad. This may save you the trouble of signing up if you haven't already. Who said old coots are useless?
First Published May 23, 2012 12:00 am