I’m 66 and on Facebook. You probably should be too.

No, the headline isn’t an ad for Facebook. It’s my reaction to a Boston Globe column holding up the headline “I’m 36 and not on Facebook. You probably Facebookshouldn’t be either.

You guessed it. Au contraire.

Author Marianne Curcio, who incidentally lives one town over from me, talks about keeping it real. Facebook is superficial. She prefers firm handshakes and possesses an “affection for the tangible.” Dammit, so do I, but I also like Facebook.

It’s simple. Facebook is a massive forum for reconnecting with high school classmates, childhood friends, and acquaintances from 50 years ago as well as people I sort of knew but got to know better. Without Facebook, these people would be forgotten.

What’s more, I’d miss videos such 80 year olds plus running the 100 meter in the Penn Relays or Dick Van Dyck singing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at a Denny’s after breakfast. Those geriatric must sees from the past few days are perhaps silly and trite, but I enjoy sharing cute cat videos as much as the next animal lover. And I post photos like mad.

As a writer, I can promote content on Facebook to get page views although it tends to suck the air out of blogs — Facebook gets the comments instead of the individual blogs. I’ve effectively used Facebook’s reach for charity fundraising, including the Pan Mass Challenge. The reasons to be on Facebook or other social media sites are numerous. For better or worse, it’s the place where you get the most engagement bang for the interaction buck.

Politics is also a core topic in my circles and the discussion can get heated, but in the main, my Facebookies are civil. Do minds get changed? Rarely if ever, but who cares? At least people get heard and seen at some level. That’s the essence of social media so I don’t buy Marianne’s contention that “social media takes away more than it gives (she confesses to being on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook).”

She complains that Facebook chatter rarely to leads to face to face interaction. “This exchange of surface information won’t….even lead to lunch.” How would she know? She has never tried Facebook.

Just how does Facebook prelude lunch with an old friends? As one commenter said on Marianne’s column “You can have Facebook and still maintain those face to face interactions you have “a deep affection for”. They’re not mutually exclusive you know.” That’s painfully obvious.

In June, I sought out a high school classmate in Nova Scotia as I passed through her area. My friend Dick who I hadn’t seen in 40 years dropped by three Saturdays ago. I’ve been to lunch with numerous long ago friends. Contact with all of these folks started with us finding each other on Facebook and going from there.

That’s worth something. Facebook isn’t perfect. My wife tells me it can monopolize my time so I cut back a bit. But she, too, has been on it for years.

Listen. I’m ok if someone is not on Facebook, but don’t tell me I shouldn’t be. It would have never occurred to me to so generously extol the virtues of Facebook hadn’t Marianne felt the urge to publicly explain why she rejects it.

I have plenty of “tangible” contact and relationships. While I’m sure her disdain for Facebook is deeply felt, her column rang contrarian for contrary’s sake.

As an aside, I write for the Boston Globe from time to time and pitched a rebuttal to an editor at the Sunday Globe magazine where Marianne’s “Perspective” piece appeared.  He told me to add it to the comments section and that the Globe rarely repeats the same topic in rapid succession.

Ok, I will. Consider, though, that NPR.org is eliminating comments (bad idea) at its site and steering people to third party commenting forums like Facebook because it believes the discourse is more civil and easily monitored. And I suspect Marianne likes NPR. Just a hunch.

Something will eventually knock Facebook off its mighty perch, but until it does, that’s where you can find me.

 

 

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