Facebook has been in the news recently — and for all the wrong reasons. Its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, faced an angry U.S. Congress delivering tough questions about the company’s mishandling of data. As a result, some of my friends, worried that their privacy has been violated, are abandoning Facebook. But, not me. I’m sticking around!
Why? It’s a great way to keep in touch with people. I love looking at pictures of new babies, trips abroad and high school graduations.
And I’m pleased that many of my friends’ parents (most of them in their 80s and some in their 90s) have embraced Facebook. It’s provided the folks — some of them homebound — with a link to the outside world. But I must admit, some are having trouble getting the hang of it.
“Richie,” my friend’s mother wrote, not realizing the whole world could see her message, “the toilet is clogged up again. Can you come over and fix it?”
Likewise, I am sometimes baffled at times by comments and responses. There were a slew of deaths they reported of famous people.
“RIP Harry Morgan” wrote one friend of the “M*A*S*H” star, whereupon a dozen others offered their condolences. What none of them realized was that Morgan had died seven years earlier, in 2011! The same thing happened with Bob Denver, the title character from “Gilligan’s Island.”
“Such a funny guy,” wrote one, offering his condolences. “I’ll miss him.” These were followed by a flurry of sympathetic posts for the actor, yet no one seemed to know that he died in 2005.
Doesn’t anyone read a newspaper? The reverse happened to John Amos, the star of “Good Times.” On at least half a dozen occasions, I’ve seen friends post “RIP John Amos,” with others chiming in with their memories of the actor, until someone (me!) pointed out that the guy is still very much alive.
Of course, being a former teacher, I sometimes want to get out my old red pencil and write across the screen: “Don’t be vague!” “Be clear!” when they write cryptic messages such as:
“I can’t even.” I can’t even touch my toes?
“Amazing what just happened.” Did the Knicks win a game?
“You were so good. I just wish we had more time.” Her husband? A long-lost love? Her hamster? (Indeed, many times it WAS the hamster.)
It is frustrating, but I will stay with Facebook, especially because I enjoy hearing from former students. I’ve loved watching them “grow up”: college, careers, marriages, kids.
Nevertheless, I’ve set down some rules: I don’t “friend” anyone. If former students want to “friend” me, they must be 24. (I figure at that age, they are finished with college, working, mature.)
It’s amazing how many of them “friend” me and add: “I’m sorry I was such a jerk when I was in 7th grade.” To which I would reply: “No apologies necessary. You were young. What matters is how you are now!”
My favorite request came from Sam Horowitz, a former seventh-grade student. When he was 21, he tried to “friend” me. I told him why I had to decline and concluded, “I’m honored to be asked, but if you want to be ‘friends’ with me, you have to wait until you’re 24.” Sam said he understood . . . and three years later, on his 24th birthday, he sent me a “friend” request. I happily accepted.
I think I’ll stick with Facebook!