My cartoonist Jim Hunt says that trying to log off Facebook is like trying to put down a bag of chips. “Okay, just one more post…”
If you’re not on Facebook you won’t be able to relate. And if you’re just a passive user, his sentiment will also have little meaning to you. But for someone like me, who uses it quite frequently, Jim’s words ring true.
Nevertheless, I certainly wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from signing on to the social media site. Least of all my father, grandmother and in-laws. I’ve been trying to get them to join for years now, and their response has always been the same: no thank you.
“Why not?” I’ll ask. “It’s a great way to stay connected with your friends and family.” But they would rather reach out the old-fashioned way, by telephone or email.
Selfishly, I want them on Facebook so they’ll be able to communicate with their grandchildren more regularly, and exchange pictures and notes. I’ve explained how simple it is to use, and that you can easily choose your degree of privacy based on your individual settings. But so far I’ve been completely unsuccessful at convincing them to try it.
My art of persuasion isn’t completely hopeless though. I have managed to encourage some die-hard Facebook opposers to give it a whirl, and most have enjoyed the benefits and stuck with it.
One of those people was my good friend Steve, who’s been a radio personality for decades, and should have opened an account years ago, but never did.
“Everyone bugs me to join,” he groaned when I mentioned it. “I just can’t. I know I should, but I’m not into it at all.”
Understanding his aversion, since I initially felt the same, I did what one of my friends did for me years ago and refused to take no for an answer. I set him up with a profile picture, and made some friend suggestions to get him started. After that he was off like a little kid on his first bike, zooming down the street with a scared but excited look on his face.
Steve traveled to Vancouver with his family immediately after joining, and soon experienced firsthand the advantages of signing up when he sat down at a restaurant called Smoke’s Poutine, and posted a picture of himself with the restaurant’s name behind him.
“Within a minute of me posting that I got a call from my former boss telling me I was only a block away from his station and to pop by for a visit,” he said. “If it hadn’t been for Facebook, that wouldn’t have happened and I wouldn’t have seen my buddy Drex at his new station.”
Like me, Steve’s going to use this particular social media site in an open all-inclusive kind of way, as it will be helpful to him and his career. And, like me, all sorts of opportunities will present themselves to him in the future that otherwise wouldn’t.
Not wanting to dissuade the more private people like some of my family members, who would be more comfortable keeping their privacy settings tight and their friendship lists exclusive, I will reiterate that both private and public accounts can have tremendous benefits.
“I only like to include my inner circle,” my friend Kari said, explaining why she wouldn’t accept friend requests from anyone outside of that. “I want to connect with the people I’m close to, but not the rest of the world.”
And that’s exactly how I picture my father, grandmother and in-laws enjoying it. I can’t imagine them becoming addicted, but I can see them ultimately being happy they joined. I know I sure am.
If you want to friendship request Steve and welcome him to Facebook, his name on there is Stuntman Stuntman. Not that he’s hiding, but it proves you can if you want to.
Lori Welbourne in a syndicated columnist. She can be reached atLoriWelbourne.com