I’m always very pleased to see that readers are checking my site even when I haven’t posted anything new for a while. I used to try to follow the common advice about posting frequently–every day being the gold medal standard. Usually, though, I didn’t even earn a silver or bronze. I come from a long line of tight-lipped Yankees, whose motto is “If you can’t improve on the silence, don’t break it!”
There are clearly enough people around who have something to say about everything and anything on a daily basis, so I don’t feel much pressure any more to add to the incessant background noise of our modern lives. Today, however, is an exception, thanks to my recurring irritation with devices. To be more specific, it’s not really so much the devices themselves that irritate me, but the way whoever is in charge of this matrix tries to make me believe that they personally know me, really give a damn how I am, what I did 5 years ago, and whether I will remember to take my umbrella today because it’s going to rain.
Several years ago, when my brother was a newbie on Facebook, a pitiful message (cue the violins and break out the tissues) popped up on my news feed saying “Steve Crofter doesn’t have any friends. Suggest friends for Steve!” Let me set the record straight here. Steve Crofter has more friends than most people I know. He makes friends with the mailman, the clerk at the local store, the curmudgeon next door and the recluse old lady who lives down the street. He doesn’t have that many friends on Facebook because he’s busy making friends in real life and real time.
A few weeks ago, my morning started with another Facebook announcement: (Cue the trumpets and give an enthusiastic drum roll, please…)
You and Steve Crofter have been friends for five years!!
Steve Crofter has been my youngest brother since 1953. I wish I could claim that we have been friends for 64 years, but unfortunately my two brothers and I wasted time during our childhood years picking on each other and playing “two against one.” Thankfully, however, and due in large part to the fact that Steve is a natural-born peacemaker, in our adult years the three of us have become fast and loving friends.
Yesterday at 9:28 AM,a notice appeared on my Facebook feed that said:
“cultivatingdignity.com has 1 new post share and 1 new post like.”
All day I basked in the happy knowledge that even when I wasn’t inspired to produce a wordy gem to post on my blog that due to the ever-present cyber world, I was still popular!! So imagine my distress when checking Facebook (just one more time, honest) before going to bed, this notice slapped me in the face:
“cultivatingdignity.com didn’t get any new post shares or likes this week.”
Damn!! Now rather than drifting blissfully to sleep, secure in the knowledge that my readers have not forgotten me, I have to toss and turn trying to figure out where things went wrong. Maybe the Facebook week starts on Sunday evening, say around 8PM. That would mean that the 1 new share and 1 new like were true last week, but so far nothing this week. But that can’t be the case, because even if the week starts on Sunday night, surely they wouldn’t smack me down so quickly. Wouldn’t they give me at least a few days to see if I can rise to the publishing standards I’m supposed to meet? Isn’t Facebook my friend? Don’t they really care about me? Isn’t that why they say good morning to me every day and warn me about the weather conditions I might have to face?
Look, even an old lady like me can appreciate the usefulness of Facebook and other social media. It is a wonderful way to keep in touch with family and friends who live long distances away or to share news and information with many people without the necessity of making numerous phone calls. I also know that it can provide critical information to people in times of political crisis or natural disasters.
Maybe I am living in the past, but I am really irritated by this attempted personification of software and computer programs. I never want to forget that friends are live human beings with whom I can have a conversation over a cup of tea, who can laugh with me when I am joyful and wipe my tears when life knocks me to the ground. And sorry, Facebook, no offense, but you are not my friend, and the man behind the curtain is not either.