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Tuesday, July 16, 2013
A few weeks ago, I found myself contemplating what Abraham Lincoln might think of Facebook. I pondered this notion while 11 members of my blended, migratory family and I took shelter inside the Lincoln Memorial at the western end of The Mall in Washington D.C., during a horrific thunderstorm. The cloudburst interrupted the whirlwind tour of our nation’s capital I was conducting for them.
With the words “thunder, lightning; the way I love you is frightening” (from the song “Knock on Wood”) playing in my head, I considered how I would capture this moment in a photo. I realized that except for my wife and me, everyone else used Facebook as the medium for sharing their lives, including pictures, with others. My wife and I still use the phone and the U.S. Postal Service to stay connected with friends and family. I glanced up and absorbed the protective presence of Mr. Lincoln as these random thoughts were streaming through my brain.
Several years ago, in a weak moment, I established a Facebook account, even though I am really not a Facebook kind of guy. I did so because I was wondering what all the hoopla was about. So, I signed on and became friends with my daughter and my father. I go months without logging into my account, but I know my page is still active because I occasionally receive email messages such as birthday greetings and other messages that inform I have been poked, whatever that means. When I do log in, it is mainly to monitor my father’s activities — which require constant surveillance.
I have wondered why I have such reluctance to being an active user of this social networking tool. I am not anti-social and, as my bio implies, I am involved with innovative technologies. Perhaps my reticence has to do with a lack of interest in joining clubs, associations, societies, etc. I guess it is because I do not take to the conforming implications of being in cahoots with like-minded people. I am a member of the U.S. Golf Association, however, but that is different; $25 each year gets me a hat and a rules of golf booklet. Also, my wife informed me the other day we have renewed our membership at the Taubman Museum of Art. I use the word “we” loosely, though.
To be perfectly frank, I do not want to provide a stage on which the skeletons lurking in my closet could get loose and throw a party. Neither does my wife. One of my daughters informs me not to worry because I can set up my Facebook page so that only certain people have access. So, I signed into my account to explore what those options are and immediately received an email from Facebook welcoming me back and letting me know everything I missed while away. Well, that did not feel too private.
I found a faintly visible icon that looked like a jagged star. Under the icon were tabs labeled Security, Privacy and Blocking. Those looked like the ones for me. So, where it was possible, I chose the Only Me options when I had a choice of who can access my stuff. I also found a tab called Follow, which claims it will allow me to post something publicly at my option. I do not know what that means yet, but I may try experimenting with it.
I can understand why Facebook is so compelling, especially for my family, who once was all based in Southern California but escaped its confines for disparate locations throughout the nation. My daughter from Portland, Ore., for example, was the reason for the en masse tour of D.C., and our encounter with Mr. Lincoln in the first place. It is difficult to appreciate the sights and sounds of our nation’s capital on Facebook.
And during this most recent visit to my Facebook page I realized a good friend from my college days had found me. He is the only person I know who was born and raised in Barrow, Alaska. He certainly knows some of my latent skeletons, including why he had to store my household belongings at his home near Santa Clarita, Calif.
I also discovered Abraham Lincoln must approve of Facebook because he does, in fact, have a Facebook page and 1,453,906 people like him, almost as many as voted for him in 1860. I tried but could not access any recent posts from him.
Weather JournalStorm track isn't very snowy for us