Karl the Curmudgeon Finds FacebookErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
"Kid, why do you insist on playing on that Facespace," said Karl, grabbing my mobile phone from me.
It's Facebook, I said, grabbing it back from him. You don't 'play' Facebook. Besides, I wasn't on Facebook, I had to check a text from my wife.
"But I don't even see the point of it," said Karl, plonking his beer on the table. It was Saturday afternoon, and we were sitting at Boudica's, a Scottish restaurant, eating lunch and having a beer. The waitress brought an order of Scotch eggs.
Ahh, look at that, I said, marveling at the egg-and-sausage dish, rubbing my hands together in gleeful anticipation. Scotch eggs are hard-boiled eggs with a sausage coating. The sausage ball is baked, and you cut it into pieces, eating both the egg and sausage together. These eggs were the size of my fist.
"Aye, those are mighty fine eggs," said Karl, slipping into his Scottish brogue, something he did whenever he was reminded of his homeland.
The point of Facebook, I said, my mouth full of sausage, is to keep in contact with your friends and family. To let them know what you're doing, and to find out what they're doing.
"That's stupid," said Karl, scowling. "Why would I want to know that?"
Don't you want to know what your kids are doing with their family on a particular day?
"Sure, but I just call them."
But do you call them every day?
"Why the heck would I want to do that? They've got their own lives to lead."
What about your friends from high school?
"I don't even like them. Why would I give a rat's butt about what they're doing?"
Do you have any friends from the last couple of years?
"Kid, what if I said you were my only friend?" said Karl.
The way you're acting right now, I'd say you overestimated.
"Oh, get bent," he said, forking some Scotch eggs into his mouth. He chewed for a minute, and then swallowed. "I just don't see the point of knowing all the details about someone's life? Why would anyone want to know what I'm doing?"
Well, you don't actually know all the details of their lives. Only what they choose to tell you. So you might see something interesting, like if your son posted a photo or video of your grandson scoring a goal. Or your daughter sharing that your granddaughter won the spelling bee at her school.
"Okay, I can see how that might be handy. But why can't they just call me with the news?"
You only talk to your kids once a week by phone, right?
Don't they forget to tell you something from time to time? They tell you about it later, but it's one of those things that would have been better to know up front?
"Sure, that happens once in a while."
Or they have videos of one of their kids' plays, but you can't see it until you see them for the holidays?
"All the time. Then I'm usually stuck watching hours of videos at a time."
So what if you could watch the videos or see the photos or hear the news online right after it happens?
"Well, they email me stuff sometimes."
Sure, but that's still only sometimes. But your son is on Facebook quite a bit.
"How do you know?"
Because we're Facebook friends.
"But you never met him."
I didn't need to. I knew who he was, I found him on Facebook, knew he was your son, and I friended him. Now I get to hear about stuff he's doing at work, things he's reading, games he's playing, that kind of thing.
"And that's not boring?" said Karl. "My son can be kind of boring."
A little bit, but the great thing about Facebook is that it allows me to find connect with new people, people I knew from a long time ago, or even find people I share a common interest with.
"So why would I want to do that?"
What are some of your likes or dislikes?
"Well, I'm a grammar curmudgeon, I hate the word 'moist', and I like proper Scotch whisky," Karl said, properly leaving the 'e' out of the word.
I pulled out my laptop and fired it up. Look at this, I said. There are groups on Facebook for all three of those interests. There are several groups for grammar and punctuation sticklers. There's a group for people who hate the word 'moist. And here's a group for people who like Scotch whisky. That one has nearly 4,100 people in it.
"What about the one for people who hate. . . 'that word?'"
Let's see, 2,277.
Karl thought for a minute. "And I wouldn't have to tell everyone everything that I'm doing?"
Not if you don't want to. You share what you want to share, leave out what you want to leave out.
"All right, I'll do it. I'll sign up when I get home." I started typing something on my computer. "What are you doing now?" he demanded.
I'm posting to my Facebook wall that I just won another argument with you.
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