My friend and editor told me that, as a columnist, one cannot afford not to have a Facebook account, for priceless access to what’s going on around town, not to mention what’s going on with friends, near or far, themselves a huge help for the sort of things I write about—senior things.
Insecure as I am with all hi-tech gadgets, I was quickly convinced her suggestion was sensible. So, I’m on Facebook!
The instant I got on, I became connected to a network of blogs and posts that connects friends and friends of friends and friends of friends of friends and so on. Eventually, I was both hooked and hooked up; my own posts were being carried across and provoking other posts, and everything going around.
Since I opened my Facebook account, I’ve been able to greet Facebook friends, here or abroad, on their birthdays. After years of being separated from many of them, we have been reconnected through words and pictures, updated on wives and husbands and children.
Too big to manage
But while Facebook connects me to faraway friends, it also carries me farther and farther away, because it’s the nature of Facebook: When you have been on long enough, you become a part of a world too big to manage.
Connections creep up sneakily and suddenly I’m accessing videos of my favorite singers, dead and alive, or of animals and babies and professional comedians, and I can’t get off until my fingers start feeling stiff and my phone gets hot.
An even clearer sign that I’ve gone overboard is that I’ve been ignoring the person in front of me.
Vergel himself, who refuses to have his own Facebook account, has developed a more useful habit with his phone: He can write a whole column on it—800 to 1,000 words.
He has better control of the device. He likes listening to music videos, too, but he doesn’t have to be on Facebook for that; he accesses them deliberately, although he also gets tempted by what my own Facebook adventures turn out, and I by what his searches do.
Facebook has also exposed my vulnerability to impulsive shopping online. I’ve bought a few things with my credit card, some of which, like that magic cooking pan, have not yet arrived.
I’ve been duped into subscribing to a daily slimming diet, which I can no longer access after paying $38!
My orders for organic fruits and vegetables did arrive, however, although they looked nothing like their pictures. When I texted my disappointment, the company sent me a replacement free of charge, but that’s not really my point. I had been tempted to give them another chance after seeing a picture of their lanzones still on the tree, but I stopped myself and went instead to the grocery for them.
Facebook has also exposed me to despicable trolls. I don’t think I could ever get used to their lowlife language and illogic. With supreme self-control, I’ve been able to not ever engage them. There’s no way I can win, after all, since I play by certain rules of human behavior and they don’t play by any rules at all.
I’m now trying not only to limit but also to rationalize my Facebook use. I hardly need to get hooked on such things at this point.
Still, there’s much that’s useful on Facebook. It’s a great source of inspiration and laughter—and, not to forget, column material. I can’t imagine how we could have lived without cell phones. Me—I mean to use and enjoy all the things my phone can offer: Skype, Facetime, Viber, Google.
The most dangerous abuse of Facebook is concocting and spreading fake news, not really something new. If you think about it, it’s just a lie, itself the oldest sin. That first fake news, borne so appropriately by a snake, marked the end of our first parents’ life in paradise.
Modern fake-news bearers likewise could destroy all the things we righteously hold dear—truth, freedom and justice for all. They must, therefore, be challenged the very first moment they rear their ugly heads.
As much as I love Facebook, I’d readily give it up if that would put an end to fake news!