Why I'm on Facebook

With all of the privacy issues that Facebook presents, you may wonder "why bother?" Most Baby Boomers I know do very well with email. They email their pictures and their grandkids' pictures to their brothers and sisters. Maybe they remember that an aunt might like to see them too and that she has an email address. Most people I know these days don't get around to printing out their pictures and putting them in an envelope to mail, so anyone who isn't "on the computer" is left out of the loop.

Here is a real life example of how Facebook is better than emailing pictures. This week I went on Facebook and checked my friends' status updates. I foundthat my cousin had posted an album of pictures from his daughter's junior prom. I've kept up with this family pretty well, but really, the time had flown andI had no idea that his daughter was ready for the junior prom! It was great to see the pictures of how this little girl had grown up! Facebook had reconnected me to this part of my family in a way that an email never could.

I think Boomers who say they can't be bothered with Facebook are not seeing Facebook as a tool that can enhance their lives. You don't have to invite strangers into your world unless you want to. The privacy settings let you keep your close knit group, close knit. Many boomers probably think they will be"poked" and prodded by people they don't want to know or see. Maybe you really don't want to reconnect with that high school friend who got you in so muchtrouble. You really don't have to.

On Facebook, you can ignore anyone you don't want to let into your circle. You can "unfriend" people who become annoying or worse, but "unfriending" is a last resort. If you need to make your Facebook experience more pleasant, consider just hiding the posts of people who write crazy status updates. One of my unnamed relatives is young, curses quite a bit and says unsavory things on Facebook. I just hide his posts. When I want to know what he is up to, I go lookon his "wall."

There is a short courses on how to "unfriend" someone on Facebook. I suggest you visit a blog post on ROM Cartridge: How to Remove Friends on Facebook or a Brighthub article: Unfriend Someone on Facebook without All the Drama.

A recent NY Times Blog post by Elissa Gootman gave this additional advice taken from Baby Boomers and others interviewed for the article:

  • Don't friend somebody you don't know.
  • Don't announce on Facebook that you are leaving home, or you may get robbed.
  • Only write about the barbecue you're planning if you want 1,000 people to show up.
  • Don't poke people its annoying.
  • If you're 54 years old, don't post a profile picture taken when you were 17.
  • Remember, there's malicious people out there.

I'd add: if you want to keep your privacy, don't "like" a lot of companies or causes. Also beware of spam on Facebook.

Although there are dangers, I think that Facebook is worth it and I suggest you give it a try. "Friend" people you care about, post a status report thatsays something about what you are doing, and see how it enriches your life.