Yes, I have a Facebook page, but status update: I haven’t updated my status in forever.
Don’t get me wrong. I maintain a virtual existence, however modest. I even get “Tagged” from time to time. Not every day, but you know, enough to keep me feeling good about myself.
I’ve got 82 photos — all the requisites: food I’ve eaten, fish I’ve caught, kids I’ve fathered, Sarah Palin run-ins I’ve had. And at last count I’m up to 383 “friends,” including one ex-girlfriend who gets me in trouble every time she posts a comment, which is all the time, often in a vaguely ominous way, like “what a beautiful family; must be nice to have a family.”
Checking it now, my Facebook profile lists more than 20 “likes” — although, curiously enough, zero “interests” — and apparently, one “follower”: a hemp-infused vodka distillery based in British Columbia. Seriously. I just found it, and I have absolutely no idea how it got there. You gotta believe me. It must belong to one of my “friends.”
Anyway, point is, I don’t really “Facebook” (verb) as much as I “Facebook-by-proxy.” That is, I get all the updates I need — and many, many that I don’t — courtesy of my wife, usually at two or three in the morning. The scene plays something like this:
I’ll be slumbering peacefully in my mesh lacrosse shorts and worn-out Grateful Dead tie-dye, dreaming of donuts or baseball or riding a dinosaur, when suddenly...
“Geoff!” my wife gasps.
“Wh-Wh-What?!” I stammer, ready to bolt into action. “Intruder? Bear? Kids puking?”
“No,” she says, face alight in the glow of her iPhone. “My camp friend’s sister had a baby” or “look at our ex-neighbor’s video of ‘The Harlem Shake’.”
This happens frequently. Way more than I get tagged, I’ll you that.
Seriously, though, she puts a lot of time, thought and effort to maintaining her Facebook profile. My wife’s got nearly 700 Friends and keeps up with all of them. And she’s a wiz with Instagram, to which her exes like posting comments, too, although theirs are much more overt, like, “Whoa, mama, if you weren’t married to that fat, bald guy...”
Call me a misanthrope, but I just can’t muster the same enthusiasm. I don’t want to be a “fan” of things I’m necessarily a fan of just because I’m invited to become a “fan” of them, nor do I wish to be “friends” with the a-hole who stole my bat after a little league game when we were 11 and then convinced the coach (who happened to be his dad) that I stole his bat and he was just taking it back.
I’m not interested in notices from people selling “lightly-used” size 9 women’s shoes or extra tickets to a Natalie Merchant concert in Bethel Woods, NY, let alone the endless comment-thread involving “friends” of a “friend” of a “friend” I’m not even actual friends with in the first place going back and forth about their favorite 10,000 Maniacs songs. I do not need any special offers for items that can’t be shipped to Southeast Alaska. Same goes for updates about my uncle’s dog’s obedience lessons. Or shaky, grainy 20-second audience video clips from that Natalie Merchant concert in Bethel Woods, NY.
And if I wanted to “chat” with you, I’d call you (and notice I haven’t called you).
Then, of course, there’s my “timeline,” which for some reason goes straight from “Born” to 2007, blithely skipping over the 31 intervening years as if they never existed. Although in some ways, that’s a good thing, to edit out the crying, bedwetting and humiliating haircuts of my youth. Or my adolescence. Or my collegiate years. Or my early post-collegiate years. You know, on second thought, maybe I like my Timeline the way it is. Take me straight to 2007, with a wife and a job and a newborn baby and — for a few glorious months, until all the newborn baby casseroles started arriving — a 36-inch waistline (34, with Spanx for men body-shaping compression underwear). These days, I’m a solid 38, Manx or no Manx.
Now, lest I scare off any potential (or current) PR writing clients — by the way, I’m available, if you know of anything — just because I don’t like using something doesn’t mean I don’t know how to use it. Take Velveeta, for instance. Or a toilet plunger.
Facebook can be an extremely effective marketing tool, a necessary evil, if you will. And it does come in handy for shameless plugging, again, like Velveeta (toilet plungers, on the other hand, are much better for shameless un-plugging — OH!).
I’ll also admit it was fun to see how many “friends” were watching last season’s “Top Chef” the night the first Juneau episode aired, in which I vocally — and, honestly, a tad slurrily (they kept offering us beer throughout the taping) — defended chum salmon to Padma Lakshmi on national television. Oh, man, I got so tagged that night.
But at the end of the day, Facebook is a massive public diary. With advertising. And virtual farms. I’ll make you a deal: you don’t read my diary, and I won’t help you harvest your digital kale.
• “Slack Tide” appears every second and fourth Sunday of the month in Neighbors. You can check out his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/geoff.kirsch.