By J. Michael Willard
I am not sure I could ever muster the gumption — as some people do with bluster — to issue an apocalyptic announcement swearing off Facebook. I’d rather give up popcorn.
Really now, you surely have witnessed friends making FB “liberty or death” declarations, only to pop up within a day with a post of what they were eating at the club “Chez Whatever”.
Sure, it is probably a given that Facebook is a colossal time waste, a journey into a black hole filled with a menagerie of useless thought bubbles having the gravitas of belly button lint.
But then, raking leaves is a waste of time, as well as watching commentary on CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and others, and spending copious moments glued to faux wisdom.
The leaves will return — they always do, and between you, me and the late news icon Walter Cronkite, the talking heads are as predictable as Seattle rain and the return of sex-crazed love bugs in Florida.
So, with all the guff Mark Zuckerberg is taking these days, I’m singing the praises of Facebook in B-flat major, the same key in which Lady Gaga sings the Star Spangled Banner — and just as loudly.
Facebook is a cultural phenomenon up there with Mr. Bell’s telephone, and the Indians teaching popcorn mastery to the pilgrims. It has created a melting pot of idiocy and brilliance, which is fine in our democracy.
In fact, Facebook is us. It is America. More than that, It is the world, a giant, raucous clubhouse if you will.
There are 2.27 billion active Facebook users around the world as of 2018. Nearly two-thirds of the US population have accounts. India is at the top of the list with nearly 300 million users. The US second.
It is the one club most anyone can join without paying an initiation fee. All that really is required is a valid email address. Even the ubiquitous Sam’s Club charges membership to buy groceries.
Facebook is the one forum almost everyone has in common, from the Swahilis to the San Franciscans, from Trump boosters to Trump bashers, from Jesus and Mohammed devotees to atheists and nihilists.
It has become the ties that bind, even those of us who would prefer to put a political rival’s head to a meat grinder as we duke it out in cyberspace. Sometimes the language used would spark pistol duals if toe-to-toe.
If not for Facebook, I would not get up most mornings to a quirky quip from a niece two-wives removed who I find delightful. Being rather nomadic, I would not be as close to Mississippi relatives. My five children, most grown, reach out to me through Facebook.
One day a few years back, while sitting in my then office in Kyiv, Ukraine, I pondered whatever happened to Ivor D. Grove, a best friend when I was 12, about 60 years ago. I found him in 20 seconds on Facebook, and we’re back in touch.
Not every encounter has been terrific, but that’s expected with a gigantic horde of friends, most of whom actually are friends.
Since I signed up in February 2009 (Though FB was founded in February 2004, it opened to the public in September 2006.), I have blocked or exiled with extreme prejudice only three souls. Generally, the expulsions were for language unbecoming upright homo sapiens.
My advice If someone insults or disses you after you have posted an opinion, ignore them. It makes them mad, and they waste time in front of the computer waiting for you to respond. It’s a little cruel.
However, I am one person who has a reason not to feel especially warm toward Facebook.
When I attempted to advertise an early novel, “Killing Friends,” which — as you rightly suspect — was about a psycho out to eliminate his entire list of FB friends, Facebook refused my ads.
That was a half dozen years ago. I’ve gotten over it. Almost.
It does seem ironic, though, that this same outfit opened the floodgates to Kremlin-sponsored manipulation with ads and phony posts that possibly influenced the 2016 Presidential election.
But, when it comes to Zuckerberg, I refuse to pile on.
If one were doing a societal cost-benefit analysis of the social media platform, commonsense would land squarely on the benefit side.
That’s my take, anyway.
Does it waste time? Maybe, but it beats raking leaves.