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Just Say No to Facebook

July 8th, 2010

This column appeared in Today’s Local News on January 18, 2009 

My daughter had forbidden me to join Facebook.

 “Mom—you CAN’T!” 

“Why not?” 

“Because it’s just too weird to have you on there.” 

Meanwhile, other people—lots of other people—were asking me to join. They wanted me to be their friend. 

I put them off with the excuse that my daughter wouldn’t let me, but deep down, I had my own reservations. 

In the first place, I figured it couldn’t be very cool if people my age were joining. Sort of like blogging—if I started doing it, by definition it’d be passé. 

To me, the Facebook phenomenon has all the earmarks of a junior-high note being passed in the school hallway. 

Not to mention I’d have to learn a whole new vocabulary. Nouns used as verbs, as in friending and de-friending. Then there’s poking. And throwing cupcakes. 

I’ve noticed that older folks are the only ones who post front-view, smiley portraits. The kids tend to put up a scowling side view, taken up their left nostril, usually while drinking. 

Then all of a sudden, without warning, my daughter reversed herself and invited my husband and me to join. We were warmed by her change of heart. Then we got a list of her conditions.

“You can only join if you promise not to friend-request my friends,” she instructed. 

“Why is that?” we asked. 

“Because my friend’s mom asked me to be her friend, and it’s WAY awkward,” she said. “I couldn’t say no because it would hurt her feelings.” 

That evening my husband rushed home and jumped right into the social networking scene. He posted his picture and waited for the friend requests to come pouring in. 

After a few days his ego was battered. He only had two friends and one of them was his own daughter. Number two was her best friend. He was one pathetic papa. 

Then a flurry of his high school friends started contacting him.

His old pal Johnnie told another old pal Jeannie (not their real names—though I don’t know why I should protect them) what a good kisser she was in high school. She was one of the Top Ten Kissers, according to him. 

All I could think about was the look on her daughter’s face reading that on her mom’s wall. 

There’s also the problem of your colleagues from work colliding with your high school friends. These are two people-groups who, in the natural course of human events, were never meant to intersect. 

Some of my husband’s Facebook friends aren’t even real—they’re just people posing as dead theologians. Do the words Get a Life spring to mind? 

And etiquette issues abound. One expert says, “De-friending is way harsh. To keep exes and frenemies at arms’ length, create a limited profile instead.” Another helpful maxim is “What happens on Facebook, stays on Facebook”–this from a blog called “Help, My Parents Posted on My Facebook Wall,” a title that says it all. 

They tell me it’s hard to extricate yourself from Facebook once you’ve joined. One fellow had to search through five different layers of menus before he found a way to delete his page. 

So, I’ve decided not to join after all. I just can’t face it.

As my son’s friend Brandon says, “I don’t believe in Facebook. It’s the signal of the end of society.”

I’m heeding these words: Just say no to Facebook.

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