My turn: Facebook, a delight of middle age

My turn: Newsday readers write.

My turn: Newsday readers write. (Credit: iStock)

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I admit it -- I love Facebook. I am not young, far from it. I am that new demographic of 50-something women who are joining and enjoying the popular social network, much to the puzzlement of the younger generation. Just what is it that makes peering into someone's day-to-day activity strangely addictive?

I joined quite innocently a few years ago to view someone's pictures. When my daughter saw that I was onboard, she said, "That is great, I'll put up a picture, and you're on your way." So there I was on Facebook with a recent picture and all of two "friends," who were probably just as clueless.

It stayed that way for a good part of a year. My daughter felt bad for me and asked her friends to "friend" me, so there I was, "friends with two clueless adults and a bunch of 20-somethings who I'm sure were less than thrilled to have someone's mom show up on their Facebook home page.

Fast-forward a bit, and I see more people my age signing on and friending me. A distant cousin in Florida, a co-worker from years ago, someone from high school. Hey, there's someone from the old neighborhood . . . this could be fun!

I started calling it "stalking" because that was what it seemed to me, seeing what someone whom I knew years ago looks like, what they're doing now and sometimes actually communicating with them. I sometimes knew what my kids were up to before they told me. Even reading mundane posts such as "I had a great meatloaf for dinner" were oddly amusing, although the narcissistic posts and rants could become tiresome.

I started posting "status updates" and making witty comments to my friends' posts. The best part is the sharing of pictures and links to news and entertainment stories or funny YouTube videos and seeing the comments. It just seemed a great way to stay connected.

It took on a life of its own when my 40th high school reunion was taking shape, with people friending me from all over and new "friend suggestions" appearing every day. I was now "friends" with people I barely knew, even more intriguing! And I can "like" and be a part of different groups with shared interests in movies, music, TV -- it's endless!

But kidding aside, what younger people don't understand about Facebook, which really was invented for them, is that people our age, boomers and the like, can now put an end to the age-old question, "I wonder whatever happened to . . . "

If you are lucky enough to search and find someone from your past and communicate with them, even in a remote way, it certainly can be an interesting diversion. Someday those "youngsters" will understand. Hmm . . . now what about Twitter?
-- Gina Kelly, New Hyde Park

Making life easier

Many new things have come along in my lifetime (I am 65), but the one I like the best is my car's GPS that gives directions to any location. By using the GPS, I avoid looking at maps while driving. I no longer have to take my eyes off the road, which makes driving safer. I am also not at the mercy of road signs that are missing or twisted in the wrong direction.

In general, I'm enjoying all of today's newer technology. Computers make life easier and communications faster. Growing up, I had only seven TV stations to choose from. Now, there are hundreds. HDTV makes viewing better. VCRs and TiVos allow me to view programs when I want. I love the magic button that allows me to skip commercials.

Phone technology has been a boon for me. What once cost hundreds of dollars a month now costs $29.95 a line with no extra charges, thanks to Internet services. Cellphones are another safety feature, like the GPS, but they have a bad side if misused.

In past years, postage cost my business hundreds of dollars a month. That's been drastically cut because of the ability to use email for most communications. Email's speed is another plus. I am sorry that the post office is suffering. When I was a child, my grandfather was postmaster of the Long Beach Post Office. Ten years ago, I had two lines devoted to fax machines, but now I have none. Email has replaced the machines.

I have a small public relations agency. In the past, I had to spend days learning about a new clients' business. Now, I go to their website and learn a lot faster, and I can charge them less. Time is money.

Sadly, many friends who are my age shy away from computers. It's much easier to stay in touch with those who enjoy social networking, as I do. -- Ron Wood,  Calverton

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