Friendships teetering without Facebook


So apparently I remain among the last few holdouts in the world. I continue to make it impossible for someone to like me or to be my friend. Or a friend of their friends. If you want to poke me, you’ll need one of those yard sticks being given away all over the place at the State Fair this week and work your way to within 3 feet of me.

If you like or dislike something I say or do, you’ll have to get within eye contact range and literally give me the thumbs up or down.

That’s right. I’m still not on Facebook.

It’s a situation that presents itself again this week as I corresponded the old-fashioned way — you know, by email — with an old college buddy. He’s an active member of the Facebook community and insists that I, too, must join the fold to keep up with him and all who know him.

For the even less indoctrinated than I, Facebook is the online community of friends where you post all there is to know about you and update as needed. It allows others to keep up with your life and vice versa.

I’m not a total stranger to the concept. When our son was in his early teens he wanted to join the online social world. After giving all the usual warnings, like don’t post anything thinking only a select few will see it — once it’s out there who knows where it will end up — we gave our approval of joining Facebook. Like a lot of parents, though, we insisted he share his password with us so we could keep tabs with how he was using the service. Every now and then I’d log on to his account and see what he was up to. From there we could see what his friends were sharing, as well.

Well, once he turned 18 apparently he thought that was enough sharing with the parents and changed his password. We, of course, could have demanded he continue to share, citing Parental Rule 631 — the “as long as you live under our roof” rule — but we relented and allowed him to live on in private.

Of course, we still could have used Plan B of parents overseeing children on Facebook, opened our own account, and insisted he accept us as a friend. It’s another way to see his “page.” But still I was able to resist the urge.

That’s where the aforementioned college buddy again comes into play. He and our son were Facebook friends, and I was able to check out his updates before the bold password change. Now, I was out of the loop again. Every now and then our son would say, “Bob what’s-his-name still says you need to get on Facebook.”

We’ve resisted, but it’s getting harder to do. More and more you’ll hear about something that everyone else already seems to know. When you ask how they know, the answer is the same: “I read about it on Facebook.” Or, “So-and-so posted it on his Facebook page.” There’s not a business in the world right now it seems that doesn’t say we can learn more about it on Facebook.

Maybe I’m just afraid that my life is so uninteresting that I won’t ever be able to come up with updates to post on Facebook so all my online friends can know. Some people go a little overboard with updates on what they had for lunch or what TV show they just watched.

And I’d have the ability to post often. I have one of those fancy smartphones that can access Facebook. But soon my “friends” would tire of continually reading, “Got up. Went to work. Came home. Watched TV. Fell asleep in the chair. Went to bed.” Repeat.

I worry, too, that Facebook could be a gateway online habit and soon I’d be tweeting. And who knows where it would go from there. At least I know Facebook. I was with a group of people the other day and one of them thought our activities should be updated on “Foursquare.”

Now what the heck is Foursquare? If only my Facebook friends could tell me.

Russ Batenhorst

Don't expect to detect a common topic or theme in Russ Batenhorst's weekly column in the Hastings Tribune. Usually it's whatever slice-of-life observation pops into his head just in time to make the deadline for it to appear each Friday.

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