Facebook Fatigue

I’m turning into my father.

My father was born in 1933. He was a paperboy in the days when paperboys stood on city corners and shouted “Extra!”

In my father’s home, the newspaper still is king. He has two delivered daily. He reads every inch of both. He does the crossword puzzles in both, too — with a pencil.

(Note to people under 25: A pencil is a small, yellow stick that leaves a mark when its tip is pressed against paper.)

My father knows that people can do crossword puzzles on their computers — and cell phones or BlackBerrys — but the idea is nutty to him. Only an idiot would bring electronic equipment into the bathroom.

To be sure, my father has shunned the communications marvels of modern times. He uses my mother’s cell phone — but only to avoid long-distance charges.

He has never sent or received e-mail.

He never searches the Web. He uses the White Pages or Yellow Pages.

(Note to people under 35: The White and Yellow Pages are thick directories of people and businesses that are left at your door once a year.)

And there are two other things my father will never do: use Facebook or Twitter.

Facebook.com is a social-networking Web site where people post important updates for their electronic “friends,” such as detailed descriptions of what they had for breakfast.

Twitter.com is similar to Facebook, except the descriptions are brief (140 characters or less): “Ate oatmeal today. Was good.”

There certainly are upsides to these technologies.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Twitter — with its ability to rapid-fire messages to millions — can be a powerful communications tool. Sure, celebrities use it to update fans on their latest banalities, but emergency organizations are also using it to alert people during disasters.

As for Facebook, it is surely helpful to stay-at-home parents who are isolated from other adults. There is an upside to swapping personal information, even if it is over the Internet.

Facebook has helped me locate — and be located by — friends I haven’t talked to for years. Some 300 million are using the tool; there is a good chance people from your past are using the site, too.

Which brings us to the downside.

Maybe there is a reason your old friends and old girlfriends are old friends and old girlfriends. Maybe you’ve already told them everything you had to say — with the exception of what you just ate for breakfast.


I was at a party recently where I was accused of being “old” — I’m 46 — because I have never “drunk texted” friends (or old friends or girlfriends).

(Note to people over 50: Texting is when you press both thumbs against a miniature cell-phone keypad to bastardize the English language.)


My generation preferred to “drunk e-mail” old friends and girlfriends. The generation before mine preferred to “drunk phone call.” My father’s generation would “drunk walk to the person’s house and knock on the door.”

In any event, recent reports suggest that people are tiring of technology-enabled social networking.

Craig Kinsley, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Richmond, told the Associated Press why: humans crave contact and human interaction, but interaction over the Internet is without substance.

Which brings us to my father.

He hasn’t wasted a moment on superficial online communications. He is doing just great in the real world of the White Pages, printed newspapers and books.

(Note to people under 25: A book is a compact device in which words are printed on several pieces of paper; the paper is glued to a spine.)

When my father wants to communicate, he approaches other human beings, usually my mother, and uses his voice. Sometimes he uses facial expressions to emphasize a point.

I think he’s on to something.

Though I’m beginning to use Twitter for useful and interesting updates — and LinkedIn.com for business networking — I don’t use Facebook much anymore. I prefer to meet people for breakfast (and see firsthand what they’re eating).

As I said, I’m turning into my father. Thank goodness.

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  • Warren Jewell

    I admit that I have used both MySpace and Facebook because my daughter, my grandchildren and a few others are there. I do enjoy sharing ‘pics’ of others’ babies, etc. Both sites suffer from some of the most truly puerile ‘surveys’ and ‘quizzes’ (such as, ‘what country should you be living in?’ based on six(! 6?!) question multiple-choice answers). The ads are infuriating for being of plethora proportions – (why the sites are ‘free’.)

    However, too, both sites permit blogging, which function is difficult to find unless one makes one’s own ‘blogspot’, to which maybe ten people a calendar quarter may hit. I use the blogging to make religion a regular contact with my ‘friends’. I have used ad content to scorn the modern world’s pathetic materialism. I use the link functions to link to bright and conservative commentators at sites to which ‘friends’ are unlikely to know about. (E.g., Catholic Exchange, Townhall.com, etc., etc., etc.) I wear my Catholicism on my sleeve, and on fingers to keyboard, with heart to heart, and spirit to spirit. I love to write and some of it gets blogged. I use my comments to others’ postings to humor, to honor, to chide, to chastise – as I see fit. Through such blogging, in both directions, my daughter and I have hit upon a new-found-renewed-refreshed respect for each other.

    I have a touch of pity for Mr. Purcell’s sire because I get more of a broad base of information from the ‘Net than ever (let alone now, with apparent ‘agendas’) I got from the four Chicago newspapers of my youth – morning Tribune and Sun-Times, afternoon Daily News and American – now down to the Trib and Sun, both in bankrupcy reorganization. I was a newspaper boy and read all four as possible during my adolescent and teen years. I don’t even miss the comic section – a visit now-and-again to gocomics.com gives me a regular taste of comics.

    And, on the net, I have encountered some wonderful, gracious and ORTHODOX Catholicism. I can link to various versions of the Bible, with the RSV-CE my favorite. EWTN – Catholic Answers – Fr Zuhlsdorf – the Curt Jester, and on, and on – are right there just a mouse click away. I can reach several ‘hymn’ sites and have a little worship service at any hour.

    Well – enough said – being an old, retired soul permits my heavy attention to things ‘Internet’. Yes, the social network sites can remind me of my lonely isolation. But, too, there are some contacts I’d not get much chance to make . . .

  • SeanReynoldsNZ

    I thought that this was a good article that needed to be communicated to the masses.

    So I went and posted it as a link on my Facebook profile. (No, seriously, I did!)