I don't want to be friends with Facebook
Some guy named Dave gets on Facebook and tells Sarah Palin -- does Dave know Sarah Palin? As if! -- that the former Alaska governor and his wife of 49 years are exactly alike. "You both love God, love your husband, love your family and love your country as defined by the Constitution and it's great heritage."
We'll give Dave a slide on the spelling of "its" -- no one in America knows how to spell "its" (maybe not even Sarah Palin) -- and we can overlook, too, that Dave may be hinting he's in the same league with Sarah's hunky hubby, Todd. But what seems really weird is that Dave (plump in the photo he posted) seems to think Sarah Palin could give a salmon's cheek about Dave or Dave's wife or Dave's originalist view of the Constitution.
Folks, what is going on here?
With 500 million of what it describes as "active users" (not including me; just for kicks, I found Sarah's site one day with a simple Google search), Facebook encourages self-promotion on a scale so grand that sticking "My Child is an Honor Student" signs on the Grand Cherokee and showing up for lunch, again, in a "#1 Grandma!" sweatshirt may seem like exercises in humility.
Conversations with my Facebooking daughter suggest that even generally stable people go awry when they boot up and start blabbing.
"Tough day. Finally home. Pizza tonight. Drop of vino? Kids watching Mets. David Wright, yes! Weekend ahead. Little League, mani-pedi, phew! Weather warm. At last. Need shoes. Always need shoes. Hungry. Bad girl, Chips Ahoy. Only live once. Yummm!!"
I made all that up but it's not far off -- is it, Facebook slaves?
Personally, I see Facebook the way my old Ice Age college pal, Bill, the professor, once described Facebook -- a futile and self-absorbed search for affirmation in a time of loneliness, disaffection and existential malaise.
Put another way, Facebook is the most awesome time-wasting device since the invention of the Barcalounger. Oh, boy, I can already hear the Defenders of Zuckerberg -- Mark Zuckerberg, the kid who invented the network when he should have been studying at Harvard -- screaming that Facebook is primo for finding old friends (what kind of friends do you have to find?), "sharing" with total strangers (careful) and playing Scrabble with someone in Lahore, Pakistan. Conversation? Real-time human relationships? S-o-o-o previous century.
All this occurred to me the other day because I heard from Bill.
He had news.
Guess what, said Bill? I'm on Facebook.
I gasped. Facebook? Bill?
This, to me, would be like Captain Midnight announcing in 1951 that, guess what, kids, I moonlight for the Commies! Or, I don't know, Snooki from Jersey Shore enlisting for overseas duty with the Augustine Missionary Sisters.
Bill said he joined Facebook to keep track of some politically charged online case in Wisconsin -- is Wisconsin out of control these days, or what? -- and claims he really doesn't go on the site much, anyway (right) and that, as it turns out, he is feeling positive about social networking now that he has a whole list of new Facebook pals. (Ouch.)
What happened to self-absorption, disaffection and existential malaise?
Got to move on, dude, said Bill.
Shortly after, I read in The Times that a few Bronx and Staten Island libraries are offering adult classes on Facebook techniques so that older people can seem less clueless to the younger generation. (Good luck.)
Here are some of the hints:
"Only write about the barbecue you're planning if you want 1,000 people to show up."
"Don't announce on Facebook that you are leaving home, or you might get robbed."
"If you're 54 years old, don't post a profile picture taken when you were 17."
Come to think of it, I'd sort of like a beer-swigging flash mob in my tiny backyard just to show the neighbors we aren't the forgotten recluses we might seem. And what's the big deal about a house break-in? There's not much to take, in the first place, and maybe I'd lose that small-screen bedroom TV and get permission, at last, to go wide and flat. As for the photo -- believe me, one taken at 54 beats anything I would risk shooting into cyberspace now.
It all seems like sort of fun -- relief from the dreary run of news about the Mets' pitching rotation and Donald Trump's presidential ambitions.
Maybe I should reassess. Maybe Bill is right.
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What's your take on Facebook? Can't live without it, or is it a waste of time? Share your thoughts for possible publication; email email@example.com.