Like many of you, I am hopelessly addicted to Facebook, the online social networking service created in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and his Harvard College friends. Though I have been a member for quite a while, I did not really get involved in the program until the pandemic hit us. Stranded at home with not much to do, I began to explore the social media that everyone was talking about. It was amazing, interesting, sometimes annoying, and now I can’t live without it.
After registering for the program, creating a profile, and posting a few photos I began the process of acquiring Facebook Friends. I contacted everyone who I knew had a Facebook account, accepted requests from other people, and even reached out to Friends of Friends. I also began to follow celebrities and politicians who don’t know me from Adam but who doubtlessly enjoy the attention. Soon I realized that Facebook is a hermit’s dream come true. In less than three years, without leaving my computer, I accumulated over 600 Friends, including one dog. As you probably guessed, not all my FB Friends are actually friends. Some are casual acquaintances, and some wouldn’t know me if I stumbled over them. Still, I was happy that people still remember me after years or even decades. I was delighted to learn that some of my favorite writers from the seventies, or favorite activists from the eighties, are still on this planet and still willing to share posts and photos with this humble person. The dog, on the other hand, proved to be a disappointment.
Facebook also allowed me to share my interests with like-minded people, by joining Facebook Groups. Here I can discuss and appreciate old books, old bars, R&B and jazz, Will and Ariel Durant’s Story of Civilization, Bigfoot, and men in Speedos with individuals who have similar quirks. As a result of this, I can’t visit Facebook without witnessing a Sasquatch sighting or a Speedo sighting and I can tell you that the ones who take photos of Speedo-clad hunks do a better job at it than the ones who try to “capture” Bigfoot. It seems that every young man with a halfway decent body goes out of his way to pose shirtless (at least) for Instagram. If only Bigfoot was so cooperative.
Of course, Facebook can be too much of a good thing, which is bad. Though I limit my posts to things and events that I think my Friends might find interesting, others don’t have such a filter. Honestly, I couldn’t care less what they ate for breakfast this morning, or all the clever things that their spouse, children, siblings, parents, or pets did today. The all-too frequent ads can be annoying, even if they are tailored to fit my interests. And not all my friends are into Facebook. For example, my BF Ron doesn’t bother with it, telling me that he can rely on me to post photos of him all the time. Which I do.
All in all, Facebook’s benefits outweigh its detriments. I enjoy receiving birthday greetings from over a hundred Friends (and a few groups), communicating with them, sharing their good times and bad times, and keeping up with different people, places, and events. (The guys in Speedos are nice, too.) I even learned to create and use a Facebook avatar which, not surprisingly, is better looking than I am. Like everything else, Facebook can be used and misused for good and for evil, and I am confident that I can tell one from the other.