Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm not on Facebook. I don't Twitter.

But I'm not out of touch, y'all. I have a phone, e-mail, and most importantly -- I exist. Like, I can actually look you in the eye and listen to you and speak words and use inflections without emoticons or different fonts. I'm personable, can hold a conversation and try to maintain good hygiene.

So talk to me, will ya?

Hey, I understand. Facebook's fun. I'll say it now -- the main reason I steer clear is that I don't want to get caught up in it. It's addictive, as blogging can be, or online Scrabble -- obsessions I know first hand. I've heard that the same can happen with Facebook or Worlds of Warcraft, fantasy football leagues or crack cocaine. Anything to take us to a slightly altered version of reality.

Shortly before I met the woman who was to become my wife, I decided that any future romantic entanglements would be comprised almost entirely of direct interaction. All modernized forms of communication would only be there to facilitate seeing each other in person -- not be a substitution for it.

In other words, we dated. E-mails and phone calls were kept to a minimum. We didn't IM, and text messages were used extremely sparingly. Otherwise, we -- get this -- saw each other face to face. And I don't mean in a video chat.

I realize that distance and busy schedules makes that difficult for people, and technology has brought folks together from all over. I blog to share thoughts and stories and as a result, have befriended tons of cool fellow geeks who live across the U.S. and even abroad. But I try not to live in cyberspace -- just keep my visits there brief.

I could go on and on about politics lately, especially as it's been presented by my new girlfriend Rachel Maddow. Turns out, I'm not the only who feels that way. But how do I know that? Ain't through direct contact with friends. I hear about it third hand from Facebookers and Twittererers I know.

I talked to a buddy from work -- "What's going on?" Nothing, he says. I share with him all I can think of about my own life, my thoughts on the election, and what do I get back? Nada. Bupkas. Turns out, he's passionate about this article by Rachel Maddow and linked to it on Twitter. But I'm not privy to that 'cause I'm a luddite who prefers to use that 20th Century primitive thing called "talking".

Another friend I invited out to dinner, and in flakey LA it'll take a week to get a response. But in the meantime, a mutual chum mentioned her mutual crush on Maddow, as if I knew all about it. Sorry, no, I don't do Facebook. I do face time. So close up the laptop and open up to me.

Maybe it is me. Maybe it's personal... that people prefer to be so impersonal. Then again, I see people in offices silently goofing off all day... and I know they're communicating to each other, in the cubicle next to them, largely through Facebook. It's a way to socialize with your co-workers while looking busy, but it reminds me of couples in restaurants talking on the phone -- to each other? Or another couple seated together in a different restaurant?

Do those girls on "The Hills" Twitter each other all day long? (Admit it, you love that show.) No, they meet up at Hollywood hot spots to exchange awkward pauses and poorly scripted lines. Of course it's not real, but you know what? It's more real than some people's lives -- or at least more dramatic. Yes, that's right. I'm defending "The Hills". But no more so than any show (on the TV machine, as Rachel Maddow would say) or movie. Because no one wants to see Heidi typing into her Blackberry to bicker with Audrina's iPhone.

Another reason I don't want to do Facebook is that I'm not particularly interested in reconnecting with everyone I ever knew. It's not that I have bad childhood memories, I just prefer to keep the past in the past. I admit, in moments of boredom, I used to Google names from high school or college, but never felt any satisfaction with the results. Oh, the neighborhood bully got married? That girl from my physics class is a lawyer now? So-and-so got promoted, whozit got fat and what's-his-face got sent to a maximum security prison? Uh, okay. If I really wanted to get in touch with any of them, I would have.'s incessant banner ads haven't worn me down.

Look, never say never. I'm usually behind the curve -- sometimes miles so -- but then I might catch up and sprint ahead. Speaking of Sprint, or AT&T or T-Mobile or whatever, you should see my ancient cellphone. I first got a cell in 2002 and my current device isn't much newer than that.

But regarding Facebook, I'm feeling so left out -- perhaps this is replacing blogging as the new fangled thing the kids are doing, and I may have to try it. But not to keep up with the Joneses, just to keep up with my so-called friends who are five feet away from me.


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