What do you gain from Facebook?

Published 12:07am Sunday, June 24, 2012

With each passing day it becomes clearer that I’m fast becoming an old man.

A few months back, a quick glance at the day’s mail should have been a giant red flag, but instead I laughed it off as a fluke.

Forty-year-olds aren’t supposed to get membership forms from AARP. The group is supposed to focus only on those 50 years and older. Clearly they think I’m either mentally or physically in that camp.

Either way the arrival of my official membership offer only gave me a chuckle at the time. Looking back on it, I should have immediately signed up.

Increasingly things in life that other people think are all the rage just don’t make much sense to me.

Perhaps the thing that most illustrates this might be the amount of time others spend on Facebook, and by contrast, my utter lack of interest in the same.

It probably says something bad about me.

On the surface, Facebook is supposed to be about openness and sharing. Everyone has “friends” and we’re all supposed to open up our lives to one another.

Clearly, I learned in kindergarten that sharing is important, but those lessons were rooted in sharing things that were really important. At the time that meant toys, crackers, Nilla wafers, etc.

But sharing today seems to include things that, well, just aren’t that important, really.

The majority of Facebook seems to include a never-ending stream of:

4 Photos of children doing the “cutest thing imaginable.”

4 Sayings by people trying to be funny or profound.

4 Photos of silly things such as what someone is about to each for lunch.

4 Images passed around that often include either funny subjects or sayings aimed at being funny.

Apparently, I’m just not a nice person, because I don’t want to share much.

I particularly don’t want to share the gory details of my life with people dubbed my “friends.”

Real friends and close family know the important stuff already and, I hope, they really don’t care much about what I had to eat for lunch.

All of it just seems to be tiring to me and of little to no interest.

Clearly I’m in the minority though as a staggering amount of Americans report having a Facebook account.

“It’s just harmless fun,” fans say.

Call me the old man, call me the party pooper, but I cannot help but wonder, “Just how much time is America wasting on such drivel?”

But beyond time wasting, something else about Facebook — and similar social media outlets — concerns me a bit.

Spending large amounts of time looking at how cool everyone else’s life is probably has a tendency to make a person question the “success” of their own lives.

“Bob’s got a new truck, why can’t I have one?” Such jealousy can also quickly dissolve a relationship, too.

A couple of years — and several million fewer Facebook users — ago an attorney association suggested more than three-quarters of all divorce cases included evidence derived from Facebook.

That doesn’t mean Facebook caused the splits, only that the site contained evidence that one side thought was damning of the others. Clearly some times sharing doesn’t result in good. If Facebook went away tomorrow, would your life be impacted?

I’d be just fine, but then again, I’m the 40-something that AARP is recruiting.

 

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.