April 17, 2018

What, no personal Facebook page?

     You’ve heard me say this before: “There’s a country song for just about everything.”
     And if you’ve been paying attention to the grilling Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has been getting from Congress, “Choices” by George Jones comes to mind. The late silver-haired Possum sang about living and dying by the choices we make. 
     I can recall plenty of times that I wish I had chosen differently, but that’s just a frailty of humankind.  If we are fortunate, however, we learn from our mistakes.
     If you are a subscriber to Facebook, that isn’t a mistake.  It’s a choice which comes with consequences—good and bad.  You know the good.  The bad is what had the 33-year-old billionaire on Washington’s hot seat. An estimated 87 million of his subscribers—unknowingly—had their privacy violated.  Their personal information was gleaned and leveraged for someone else’s benefit. 
     But as they say, “It is what it is.”  One of the downsides of the internet is the risk of having your private data mined or hacked.  Hacking at Harvard is how Zuckerberg launched his entrepreneurship.  His devious intrusion almost got him booted from college, but he laughed all the way to the bank. 
      I can’t explain the gears that click inside Facebook’s Peeping Tom-like machinery or its addictive lure.  Apparently, few can.  Nonetheless, I made a choice in the beginning: I will never have a Facebook page.
     Yes, I know. 
     That might make me a modern-day Luddite, as in the 19th century folks who rebelled against industrial machinery.  But before you think I’m from the Dark Ages, our newspapers have a Facebook page.  That’s what you expect, but I choose to let someone else oversee that.
     Why don’t I have a Facebook page?
     The choice was based on several factors.  Ben Mezrich’s book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal was one reason.  Read it and decide for yourself.  Zuckerberg is loaded with brains and money.  The Ivy League dropout is a genius who has changed the way 2.5 billion communicate.  For many of those, their world spins on Facebook’s axis.  That’s their choice.
     Another reason that I don’t add Facebook to my informational diet is that my plate is already spilling onto the tablecloth.  I am a voracious reader, and I don’t want to squeeze in more screen time in my already-packed waking hours. 
     Cell phones, emails and text messages are matter-of-fact necessities.  I believe in being accessible and responsive, but I don’t find a personal need to add more mouths to feed, i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Snapchat or a host of other communication platforms.  I’d rather “like” some of that time to mail a handwritten note to my real friends and family.
     This isn’t a complaint, but I was born in a hurry.  I choose to have two speeds: wide-open and off.  My life is much like a track meet, dashing from one commitment to another.  Saturday—as I was zipping through Odum—Alabama’s tune “I’m in a hurry and don’t know why” was rolling through the jukebox between my ears.  Out of the corner of my eye, I glimpsed a familiar white pickup truck. 
     Four hours later—if I had a Facebook account—I could have reached out to Mickey Morris and my social-media friends to say, “Hey, I saw you standing in front of your cane-syrup business.”  Instead, I turned around and went back to have some old-fashioned “face time” with Mickey.  A bonus was seeing his nephew, Michael, and his son, Patrick.  
     That, my friends, is something you can’t buy, even with Mark Zuckerberg’s pot of Silicon Valley gold.