Regarding the main social media avenues (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), I remain a non-user.
I guess I miss a lot, but I don’t see this changing. I’ll get into some of the reasons next week when I review the book, “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World,” which I recently finished reading.
I have a LinkedIn profile, but it’s vague and generic, and I’m thinking of deleting it. At my age and at this stage of my life and career, although I think and hope I have plenty of good working years left in me, I don’t see that it is of much benefit.
I know who would have loved social media if he were still alive and had engaged in it: my father, who passed away in early 2006.
One could have never described my dear old dad as progressive — either in the modern political sense wherein “progressive” is synonymous with “liberal” because liberals decided they like the sound of it better, or the true dictionary meaning which is “favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are.”
To my dad, all change and reform of any kind was suspect.
He did, however, have a thing for mechanics and gadgetry, and it’s that’s intrigue that would, I believe, have eventually hooked him.
He was fascinated by cell phones, and even once purchased one of the pay-as-you-go versions, only to return it when he learned he was being billed for both incoming and outgoing calls. (“That ain’t right,” he lamented).
Back when the internet was new, he invested in a small startup local provider. This was shortly after his retirement when he had time on his hands.
I think he put some money into it because, again, he was intrigued. He eventually sold his stake in it and made a few bucks in the process.
Although he was not a silent partner (he would not have stood for that), he did not have a management role. While he was in it, however, he would visit the offices on occasion, and he learned to use their computers to send email.
I had recently acquired an email address and made the mistake of giving it to him. He soon began sending electronic communication to me, asking the personal and inappropriate questions he would also ask in person or on the phone. He loved this new form of communication because he could maintain a record of what he had asked and the answers I had given or, more likely, had failed to give.
(During this period of time I had no choice but to add online dodging of his interrogations and the artful skill of stopping just sort of outright lying to him — for the most part — to the skill I had already developed doing so in person and over the phone).
With his brief emailing experience, his love of gadgetry intersected with his extreme nosiness and lack of any kind of a filter. But he never could bring himself to take the plunge and purchase his own computer. Once he exited the business, his emailing days were done.
I believe, however, had he lived a few more years, as personal computers and handheld devices became even more ubiquitous, he would have eventually joined the age of technology. If he had come to know all the personal information he could find about people (especially me) with just the click of a mouse, I’m certain he would have crossed over.
And he would have had a ball on Facebook, connecting with random people from his past who might or might not have remembered him, asking them all kinds of probing questions. It would have been just too good to pass up, and he would have forced himself to progress at least to this point.
I know this because my brother, who passed away only a couple of years ago and was in many ways made in the image of my dad, fully embraced social media.
During our conversations over the two to three years before he died, he would share with me all kinds of news about people with whom he had reunited, many of whom were childhood friends and neighbors, and most of whom I had forgotten or did not care to resurrect from my memory bank.
And it’s a gift that keeps on giving. A few years ago, my brother apparently posted on his Facebook page a picture of the two of us, taken during a visit I had made to his home.
A long-ago neighbor of ours – and by long ago, I mean when I as in kindergarten or before – saw it and began to communicate with him. I vaguely remember his telling me this, at which time I said something along the lines of “uh-huh” and went on with life.
Fast forward to this past March, when out of the blue I received a text message from this very person. Best I remember, I last saw in the early 1980s when I ran into her in a mall in Little Rock. I barely recognized her then and am certain I would not today.
In her March text message, she told me “Pat [my brother] gave me your phone number!”
She then proceeded to invite me to a birthday party for her mother, who was turning 100 years old!
I graciously declined, but I knew my father and brother would have absolutely been there, and somewhere they were shaking their heads at my lack of desire to relive moments from a half-century (or more) ago.
Now I’m just waiting to see who else I might hear from, thanks to my friendly brother.
If there is social media in the great beyond, I know two who are all over it.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at [email protected].