‘Like’ the Bubonic Plague

Snow Tracks

Snow Tracks

LAKE MACBRIDE— An article in yesterday’s issue of The Telegraph began with the sentence, “Facebook will lose 80 per cent of users within three years before eventually dying out ‘like the bubonic plague,’ according to U.S. scientists.” I don’t know about that, but I posted a link to the article on my Facebook wall with the following comment:

I don’t know about FB dying out “like the bubonic plague,” but for me the newness is worn off, and there may be better platforms (electronic and otherwise) to more easily connect with people and ideas that matter. In March, I will have been on the social network for five years. I downloaded my archive and while I knew FB was collecting my data, I was stunned by how much info they have about me, especially info that doesn’t seem related to my FB activity. Why do you like it?

24 hours afterward, no one liked or commented on the post out of the 750 Facebook friends with whom I shared it. There is no evidence that anyone else even saw the post. Guess I’ll have to answer my own question.

The reason I joined Facebook was to follow our family and close friends. I registered my account on Thursday, March 20, 2008 at 6:44 p.m. CDT, according to the service. By then, our daughter had moved out of state, and along with my blogging, Facebook became a way to bridge the geographical distance.  The social media became much more.

I began connecting with real world friends on Facebook. During 2010, I created a Facebook group for our 40th high school class reunion, and a number of classmates joined the group and friended me on Facebook. As time went on, I started friending people I knew from other associations, and then people in those circles that I did not know. While there is a reason for each one of my Facebook friends, some I know well, some I have gotten to know, and some I don’t know except for the point of contact that brought us together. As I mentioned I am up to 750 friends as of this writing.

In general, I log in and update on Facebook about ten times a day, depending upon my schedule. I know this because of the detailed statistics Facebook keeps on my activity. Mostly, I like to see what’s circulating in my news feed. Most of it is trash, but some of it is interesting. I like what people I know post the best, and family photos are particularly engaging. It isn’t that much time, but there is something built into Facebook that speaks to our inner voice, “it’s time to do something more constructive with your time.”

With my fifth anniversary as a Facebooker coming up, what will this milestone represent? Not much. I expect I’ll keep the service, and cut back on some of my inactive friends. In the end, it’s primary uses remain: to keep up with family and personal friends, and to follow about half a dozen clusters of people with whom I have associations outside Facebook: The Climate Reality Project, people who live near me, my Veterans for Peace chapter, the peace and justice movement, and some others. It’s not my life. One could argue it isn’t even a life viewing the blue-toned screen.

In the end, some form of Facebook is expected to be around despite the prediction of it’s arc, because while it goes viral from time to time, a plague it isn’t.

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