By ELLEN ENDO
I can admit it now. 2015 was the year I started to take Facebook seriously. I still haven’t reached the point where I post pictures of my daily activities nor have I mastered the art of taking selfies that don’t make me look like a space alien, but (gulp!) I think I may be addicted.
I check the Facebook postings regularly. By “regularly,” I mean:
• When I wake up in the morning;
• Just before I go to sleep at night;
• When I’m bored;
• While waiting for the server, any server, to bring my breakfast/lunch/dinner order;
• When I’m in the queue for the gas pump at Costco;
• During the eight minutes it takes for pasta to reach the al dente stage;
• When I want to see the latest pictures of my grandkids;
• When I’m standing in line for anything, like a movie, a table at Sushi Gen, supermarket checkout, Starbucks, you get the picture; and
• When I am trying to come up with a topic for “Open End-O.”
Facebook’s more than 1.4 billion active users spend an average of 18 minutes per visit. Forty-eight percent of millennials (18-34-year-olds) check Facebook first thing in the morning, and 28 percent even check it before they get out of bed.
In our electronically-charged world, social media has altered how we interact with each other. The birthday card, for example, is a social custom doomed to extinction, especially when Facebook dutifully reminds us when a friend’s birthday is coming up and then provides the path for a greeting.
These days, I use my cell phone less often as…well…a phone. I use it for things like reading my emails, checking the weather, and playing Words with Friends. By providing driving directions, my phone even tells me where to go. Yes, the harsh reality is that my smart phone is way smarter than me.
For the past year, I have enjoyed the Facebook comments, photos, videos, and shares posted by many of my friends without really reciprocating in kind. Oh, sure, I love to “like” (this will only make sense to those who are familiar with Facebook) and can occasionally be found making pithy remarks in the “comments” section.
As someone who has worked as a journalist most of her adult life, posting and sharing ought to come easily to me. The truth is, up until now I have been an unapologetic one-way Facebooker, a taker and not a giver, who rarely post details of her own life. I resolve to change that in 2016.
In a world and at a time when so much seems to be out of control — from climate change to presidential campaigns to violence by extremists — Facebook allows users to be in charge of their own content. For many, it is a primary and sometimes the only source of news, eclipsing traditional media bastions, including television, and even the Internet itself.
Unfortunately, when Facebookers become their own reporters, editors, and curators, the rules of journalism don’t apply. Facts do not have to checked, and sources do not have to be referenced. Editorializing is not only allowed but expected.
Aside from pictures of food and social gatherings and cute videos of animals and babies, Facebook has become a forum for discussing major news events. The following are the top 10 topics:
1) United States presidential election
2) Nov. 13 attacks in Paris
3) Syrian civil war and refugee crisis
4) Nepal earthquakes
5) Greek debt crisis
6) Marriage equality
7) The fight against ISIS
8) Charlie Hebdo attack
9) Baltimore protests
10) Charleston shooting and Confederate flag debate
Still, one of my resolutions for 2016 is to be a better Facebook friend. Warning: This could open the door to an avalanche of pictures of my two-year-old grandson and my dog, Pepper. I will follow the unofficial rules of Facebook etiquette.
1) Don’t overshare – No one cares if you ate leftovers from last night’s dinner for breakfast.
2) Don’t poke – I’m not exactly sure what “poking” is, but don’t do it.
3) Don’t vent – It could come back to bite you. (I’m going to have trouble following this rule.)
4) Remember that Facebook is great for keeping friends and acquaintances updated, but it’s not a substitute for human contact.
My New Year’s resolution will be greeted, I’m sure, with eye rolls from my adult children, who would rather that I stick to my generation’s accepted modes of communication — phone, fax, and snail mail. To retaliate, they are shunning Facebook in favor of Instagram, Tumblr, and Snapchat.
“If you don’t have a crazy Facebook friend, you ARE the crazy Facebook friend.” — Jimmy Kimmel (1967- ), talk show host, writer, producer
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