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Facing Up to Facebook

J. Dennis and Phyllis Robinson in the early 1950s
HISTORY MATTERS

Kicking and screaming. I just joined Facebook. Last week I was one of us. Today I am one of them. I got “friended” 200 times in the first five days. It was exhausting. I have been assimilated, and my life will never be the same. (Continued below)

 

I come to the Facebook party late. 955 million people were here when I arrived. (That’s more than three times the population of the United States.) These people “like” or comment on Facebook content over three billion times per day and upload over 300 million new photos daily. The company appeared in 2004 and Mark Zuckerberg, the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Facebook is only 28 years old. He is worth $21 billion, give or take a billion. I saw the movie, but I didn’t see the point of social networks.

Exposing my private life on Facebook was not what kept me out of the loop for years. I’ve been writing first-person newspaper columns since I was in junior high school and I have posted thousands of Web pages since I opened my own site in 1997. I’m online all day every day, so my life is an open book.

As a practicing hermit who shuns social situations, however, I had no interest in social networks. I am what they call a “content provider.” At least 1,000 people visit my Web site each day. They come and go quietly. I don’t know who they are unless they write or call. At one point, almost 10,000 readers received my monthly email newsletter. We never met. I didn’t even know their names. Life was good.

JD Robinson on a good day around 1951 in Southbridge, Mass

Then the numbers began to dwindle. More and more people were communicating “outside” of email via social networks like My Space, Twitter, Linked-In, and Facebook. Friends asked me to join, but I just laughed.

“Waste of time,” I told them. “Too busy to care.”

I figured social networks were a flash in the pan. I had better things to do than ogle pictures of babies and puppies. I didn’t care what my editor had for lunch or what my girlfriend from kindergarten saw on Netflix last night.

Resistance, however, was futile. My wife went over to the dark side years ago. She has 10 brothers, which means I have 10 brothers-in-law. They have countless children, some of whom are having children of their own. They keep track of each other on Facebook. My mother and my aunt, both in their eighties, like to video-chat on Facebook using the camera built into their laptops.

But it wasn’t the family that turned me. Nor was it the impact social networks may have had on the “Arab Spring” uprising in TunisiaEgyptYemen and Libya.

And it wasn’t out of sympathy for poor Mr. Zuckerberg, who is taking heat since the company went public and its stock options began to tank. At this writing, a share of Facebook stock is worth $11 less than when it came on the market two months ago.

FACEBOOK CONTINUED BELOW

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Thursday, June 22, 2017 
 
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