I’ve been on Facebook for nearly a decade now and despite all the bitching people are doing about it lately, I still love it. I wrote about that a while back (https://wp.me/p4e9wS-hE). I’ve also written about the things I don’t like about Facebook (https://wp.me/p4e9wS-hA), so I’m not an uncritical fan or supporter. Overall, though, Facebook adds something positive to my life.
My husband, however, is Facebook-shy. Although he sometimes talks about joining Facebook, he never does. Some of his excuses have merit, but others are just silly.
He wants to join when he learns that more than 50 people wished me Happy Birthday. He wants to join when I tell him about interesting news articles I’ve read, cute cat pictures I’ve seen, and meaningful conversations I’ve had with friends and relatives (including some of his). He even wants me to send him funny pass-alongs I see. (I download them, then email them to him.) He comes down to my study most mornings as I scroll through my timeline and reads over my shoulder.
But when it comes to actually dipping his toe in the water, he shies away. He has his reasons, but I try to convince him they make little sense. Here’s what he says:
I don’t want anyone to find me. And its corollary, “I don’t want anyone showing up on my doorstep.” This paranoia used to make some sense, as he once worked at a correctional facility and didn’t want to – in fact wasn’t allowed to – pursue relationships with any of the former residents. But that was a decade ago.
I’ve tried to reassure him that he doesn’t have to give his address or other personal information when he joins. That he can even use a photograph he’s taken of a flower or our cats as his profile pic. And I have the ultimate rejoinder: “Has anyone showed up on our doorstep because I friended them on Facebook?” The answer is no. No, they haven’t. Not one. Not once.
I don’t have any friends. It is true, if slightly pathetic, that he has few friends since his best friend (who was on Facebook) died a few years ago. But he has a number of relatives on Facebook, from his mother to his nephew who posts adorable photos of his two sets of twins. And there’s a friend from his hometown who regularly sends me messages for him that I pass along.
Besides, I tell him, he can borrow some of mine. He has met a number of them in real life and even spent time with them. I’m sure they’d be happy to accept his friend requests. Then there are always Facebook groups for things he likes, like Dr. Who or wildflowers or news about science, astronomy, and archaeology. And new people he meets like co-workers and the others at his cardiac rehab.
I don’t have anything to say. Well, that simply isn’t true. I’ve found him to be quite an interesting conversationalist, with opinions on political and social issues, information to share on a number of environmental topics, and a keen interest in matters that my friends discuss all the time.
Besides, he could always share jokes, cartoons, and puns, not to mention the wonderful nature photos he takes.
Most of all, though, I think Dan doesn’t join Facebook because he tends to isolate, especially when he’s depressed. I happen to think that a virtual social life is better than no social life at all. That’s certainly true for me. I’m not saying he has to spend hours a day on Facebook as some of my friends seem to. Or that he has to respond to political trolls or even read political posts, especially around election time.
I just think that Facebook could give him an outlet for his interests and creativity, help him stay in touch with old friends and make new ones, and explore the virtual world in a new and different way.
The way I have.