Facebook friends: Reconnecting with total strangers

This is a text conversation I had with my father the other day;

Dad“Your friend Bob Jacobs has cancer it doesn’t sound good”

Me“Sorry to hear that what kind”

Dad“I don’t know”

Me“Okay how did you find out”

Dad“Someone posted a comment on his Facebook page you should send him a message”

Me“I haven’t seen heard or talked to Bobby in 35 years but I am sorry to hear Thanks”

Dad“If you had Facebook you could message him”

At this point in the conversation I had a dilemma, I could a) bite my tongue and move on or b) point out to my Dad that he doesn’t know Bobby, in fact he has never met him, and that some random comment on The Facebook isn’t a hell of a lot proof that he has a “doesn’t sound good” kind of cancer.

Me“How many Facebook friends do you have”

Dad“Why”

Me“Just curious”

Dad“About 850”

Me“How many of those people do you know”

Dad“What do you mean”

Me“How many do you actually know, have you met”

Dad“I don’t know, why”

Me“Find it odd you would keep up with people you honestly don’t know, like Bobby”

Dad“He friended me because he knew you”

Me“Yea ok seems like life would be less complicated if you whittled that group down to about 100 and played outside more :)”

I didn’t get a smiley face back. When I ask my Dad how much time he spends on The Facebook he gets defensive and says not much. Here is what he doesn’t see that we, his family, do; he wakes up at 6 am and goes to bed at 9 pm (yes he is a little set in his ways). He easily spends 10 to 15 minutes each hour of the day on The Facebook, so a little math, 15 hours x 10 minutes = 2.5 hours spent scanning, liking, commenting, posting, and whatever else you Facebookers do on The Facebook. Maybe 2.5 hours a day doesn’t seem like a big deal but 17.5 hours a week, the equivalent of one of his waking days, is an awful lot of time with your head down staring at a tiny screen “creeping” on 850 people.

For his family, this is 17.5 hours that he is disengaged from the world right in front of him, his wife, his children, grandchildren and his real life in the flesh friends. One of my siblings, the one that uses The Facebook almost as much as he does, says to leave him alone about his excessive use. They contend it keeps him contacted, feeds his ego and keeps him out of bars chasing loose women. The other sibling says yes it does feed his ego but it also makes him melancholy and depressed at times and mom would kick his ass if he was out chasing loose women before his 9 pm bedtime (he is too slow, he couldn’t catch them anyway).

I am not a fan of The Facebook as my previous post points out. I am sure it has good qualities and bad like most things do from Oreo’s to Merlot. The key is balance, to not become a pawn in Zuckerberg’s quest to take over the world. My kids don’t seem to spend as much time on it as they once did, one of them no longer even has an account (too much drama was the reason).

Yes, I am sorry Bobby has cancer. I am sure it is hard for him and his family. Maybe hearing from a long-lost voice from the past would be uplifting, but if he is like my father it would be a voice lost amongst hundreds of other voices. Some he knows, some he knew and others that are simply a picture icon on a screen.

“I feel like I’m part of a generation of people who are stuck in the past and are really self-absorbed. I mean, we’re actually taking pictures of ourselves and posting them on Facebook, and keeping in touch with people that should have been out of our lives 15 years ago.”-  Diablo Cody

 

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About ends and beginnings blog

I am a frustrated writer and poet waiting to be discovered. A stand-up philosopher performing on a street corner near you. A Christian with questions but I don’t want to hear your answers. A Buddhist with a bumper sticker on my truck to prove it. A collector of quotes. A grower of lettuce. The Patron Saint of earthworms who name their children after me. A cyclist whose big ass strains the seams of his Lycra bibs. I am American by birth, Southern by the grace of God. My goal in life is to leave an imprint on the lives of the people I love not a footprint on the earth. I am a son, a husband, a father composed of 65%-Oxygen, 18%-Carbon, 10%-Hydrogen, 3%-Nitrogen, 3%-Diet Coke and 1%-Oreo.
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16 Responses to Facebook friends: Reconnecting with total strangers

  1. ericstrong51 says:

    I disabled my facebook account about two months ago. I only had 65 ‘friends’. I was just wondering if perhaps I’ve been using WordPress as a FB substitute. like quitting smoking and substituting by eating little candies? Good post…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. manqindi says:

    Its like selfies – confirmation of our social existence without real engagement

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Belinda O says:

    Ah, Facebook is a mixed blessing — or curse.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Older people may have too much time on their hands and FB is as good a distraction than, for example, the endless commercials on TV in between which they show stupid shows.
    Your dad can actually interact with other people when he feels lonely. I wonder if he sees you or many other family members daily, if he can spend 2.5 hours daily chatting with and listening to family members, or if they are busy with their own lives.
    Older people often don’t get out and about as much as they would like. There, too, Facebook is some kind of ersatz. Some people like to sit on a bench in the park or in the mall and watch other people’s lives unfold in front of them. Maybe your dad doesn’t have that possibility, or the necessary energy, or transportation, and so he watches other people’s lives unfold on Facebook.
    And maybe he thought you were still in contact with Bob Jacobs?
    I’m not an advocate of Facebook, but I use it to stay in contact with friends, and sometimes even friends of friends. Still, I have only 80 Facebook friends, and I have a few followers here on WordPress, too. And I don’t know them, other than by their blogs.
    Do you have followers on wordpress?
    Do you follow people on wordpress?
    Do you have many of these?
    Do you know them other than through their blogs and comments?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for reading and for taking the time to share your thoughtful comments.
      I also see the benefits of FB. We have a young friend with MS. Phone calls and FB are her main social connections. MS forced this choice on her otherwise she would still be playing “outside” with the rest of us.
      We all make choices on how we use our time. Given the lifestyle choices of my mother, in-laws and others I see at my church, my Dad is making the wrong choice. There are no aliments holding him back. His longing for his past “importance” and “relevance” is. Again thank for reading, I am glad my post spurred such a reaction.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Is your dad retired?
        My father had a very hard time retiring. He, too, longed for “importance” and “relevance” that his job provided for him.
        I hope that you can, little by little, lure your father away from his Facebook. Did you suggest to him to join a group that shares his interests?
        On the other hand, be glad that he has something where he feels engaged. Some people fall into deep depression once they retire.
        Good luck! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • You know it is a battle. I love the man. He has much to contribute but for many men their existence was tied to a “title”. I lost that feeling many years ago, mostly by force, but I can reflect back now and be thankful for the occurrence. I think it sets me up for a healthier and happier retirement 15 to 20 years from now.

          Liked by 1 person

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