Opinion » The Rant

Agebook: A few rules for all the old farts who are taking over Facebook.


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  • Shakira

Facebook, like youth, is wasted on the young. I'm sure this is not what Mark Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins had in mind when they created the social network, but Facebook is the perfect old fart medium. Teens use FB to chat with their circle of friends. Old folks have generations of classmates, pals, and significant others with which to interact.

Personally, I confess to checking out and befriending old girlfriends all the way back to the fifth grade at East High, when I stole my first after-school kiss. (Love ya, Cynthia). I enjoy seeing how some people have aged better than others, and it usually has to do with decades of alcohol consumption. I was always a light drinker and that's why I'm still so pretty. In some cases, I've noticed that age turns young boys into old men, and young girls into old men as well. Especially on Throwback Thursday, when everyone posts pictures of themselves at their thinnest or handsomest or hairiest.

I sympathize with the hair thing. I have embraced my minimalist tonsorial look. Among my FB friends are those popular girls who I was too shy to talk to in high school, who now express their secret devotion. It's almost like getting laid, only without the nudity and hyperventilation, which can be dangerous for those diagnosed with hypertension. If you don't understand the references above, you're not one of the nearly 200 million Facebook users in the U.S. — or billion worldwide. Since its inception in 2004, Facebook has grown from a Harvard dating site to a force of nature, affecting everything from presidential elections to the 2011 Egyptian revolution. Though its potential as an organizational tool is a phenomenon, FB is still primarily a site for friends to connect and reconnect. In 2010, the largest majority of Facebook users were between the ages of 18-25, and the smallest demographic was the 55-65 age group. A 2014 Pew study said that although a number of younger users had fled to sites like Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram, the most dramatic rise in Facebook users were people over 65, which is why you're suddenly getting poked by MeeMaw. 

Not to underestimate the influence of the happening generation: It was just announced that Shakira has become the most popular celebrity on Facebook, with more than 100 million "likes," compared to the paltry 90 million for Eminem and Rihanna. My generation doesn't know who Shakira is, except those who "like" her page and are treated to posts like the 2006 "Hips Don't Lie" video. To see Shakira do that thing she does persuaded me to "like" her too.  

I sincerely enjoy seeing all the pictures of my friends' dogs and cats. I love pictures of the kids and the vacation updates. I don't even mind the grandchildren or the group luncheon photos. But do we have to know the mundane details of your life? I don't care that you just got back from yoga and are pondering dinner selections for Bubba. And please keep the sordid details of your colonoscopy preparation out of my reality.

Since Facebook is pretty much rules free and anyone can post whatever they wish, except for porn and whatever is considered beyond the pale of human decency, someone should compile a list of unofficial tips for "senior" users to avoid annoying others. Even though such an individual would risk the scorn of his "friends," I shall once again leap into the breach with a list of irritating Facebook offenders:

The Overposter. This person lives on Facebook and posts "memes" and Zig Ziglar-like messages of positive reinforcement. Thanks for the encouragement, Dale Carnegie, but I really don't need your advice. A couple of saccharine posts are tolerable but after a dozen, I'll probably put you on "acquaintance" status.

The Phantom Tagger. Yes, I'm certain these articles you found on the internet about Justin Bieber buying Graceland are entertaining, but what do they have to do with me?

The True Believer. I'm happy for your devotion to your faith, but I am not going to click "like," if I love Jesus. Some of us are Jewish. Do you ever see any posts saying click "like" if you love Moses? Too many religious posts on my feed and you're outta there. Same thing goes for prayer requests. Is it okay if I send a prayer up to the mighty Ba'al? How about Zoroaster?

The Animal Zealot. I am very aware that cruelty to animals exists, but I don't need to see it up close and personal. These people are the shock-jocks of FB, believing that posting pictures of abused and injured animals will nauseate some sick jerk into changing his ways. I'm with you all the way in encouraging care for animals, but these kinds of pictures only hurt those who already care.

Game Solicitors. I get it. The more "friends" you invite to play, the more free points you get. Stop it. Some of us are busy.

Marketers. I appreciate that you need to rustle up some business, but not on my page.

Pokers. I really don't understand this whole "poke" thing. Is that like a sharp jab in the ribs? I was attempting to print up a T-Shirt for older folks that said "I poked your mother on Facebook," but the online company balked over potential copyright infringement. The alternative is to post a sign on my wall that says, "No Pokes." That would guarantee that only members of a certain generation who understood what that phrase meant and would do wise to keep their distance. At least for awhile.

I hope this helps. And one more thing, unless we're real-life friends, don't post on my page.

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