As Facebook prepared to make its highly anticipated IPO on the New York Stock Exchange last Friday, I must admit I gave momentary consideration to buying a few shares.
Well, I didn’t and it’s probably just as well, given how the initial share price of $38 has fallen precipitously. But that’s not the reason I didn’t buy. The reason came in the form of an unexpected e-mail of an old socialist friend of mine. Now before anyone gets the wrong idea and voices their disapproval, I must tell you that this particular socialist is what I would describe as a happy warrior and they are precious few amongst their ranks. Even after I left the NDP back in Canada, he didn’t liken me to the anti-Christ and could still laugh at my puns. Anyone who can laugh uproariously at my peculiar brand of humor can’t be all bad. I last saw him about five years ago during a visit to Toronto.
In any case, my old comrade has spent the past eighteen months living in Paris doing freelance writing for unions, non-profits and anyone else who has a Euro to borrow or spare. He told me that he searched for me on Facebook but could not find me. I wrote back to tell him that I do not have a Facebook account nor am I likely to sign up for one. Why is this so? Well, I thought you would never ask.
First and foremost, it isn’t because I’m a Luddite who is part of The Anti-Social Network. On the contrary, having written articles online for nearly a decade for various conservative websites lends itself to inviting comment from the outside world. Naturally, I have had more than my share of contact with people and occasionally this has led to enjoyable and entertaining correspondences. Besides I’m not that hard to find. For those who feel the overwhelming need to seek me out, it’s not like I haven’t left plenty of clues on Google.
But as I get older I find there are fewer and fewer people with whom I want contact. More often than not I want to be left alone and signing up for Facebook isn’t exactly conducive to my Garboesque moods. What I particularly don’t want is to be approached by people who only made my acquaintance when I was younger because they wanted something for me other than friendship and now wish to renew acquaintances with me because they want something else from me other than friendship. I have spent good part of my adulthood forgetting many of the people from my childhood and I want them to stay forgotten.
Yet like most human beings I am full of contradictions. While I want to be left alone I also want company. However, I suspect if I were to sign up for Facebook and reach out to those select people I fear my friend requests would be overwhelmingly rejected. If I am going to be told to get lost I would rather it be to my face than in the impersonal anonymity of cyberspace.
Then there’s the part of me which thinks that if I do sign up for Facebook it will be the precise moment everyone decides to move on to something else rendering Facebook into another MySpace. I fear that if I sign up for Facebook that I will do it what I did to the popularity of Dwayne Wayne glasses when I took out a prescription for them more than twenty years ago. If there are trend starters then I am a trend stopper. The thought of rendering Kadeem Hardison unemployed twice in a lifetime would be too much to bear.
Also, I’m not sure how to upload pictures.
However, reassurance came in the form of Rich Lowry of National Review who in his most recent column asked, “Can 900 million people, the roughly one-eighth of the planet that uses Facebook, be wrong?”
Do you know what this means? It means that the other seven-eighths of the planet aren’t on Facebook. It means that I am not alone. Mind you most of those people don’t know where their next meal is coming from, have only the clothes on their backs and risk having their limbs hacked off if they say the wrong thing at the wrong time. What exactly is the Facebook status for someone whose life is nasty, brutish and short?
As for me, I have only but one status, Facebook or no Facebook. I inhale and I exhale. So will I ever sign up Facebook? Well, I could always change my mind. But if I did you would probably never know. So I wouldn’t hold your breath.