The social network... and me

Ed Smith
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I think I joined Facebook today. I’ve been putting this off for centuries, or so it seems, but by not joining one of the social media, I have been branded with some rather unkind labels.

“Neanderthal” is one of them. That term can be broken down into several sub labels. “Social Neanderthal” is one; “cultural Neanderthal” is another; “technical” Neanderthal is a third. There are others.

“Ignorant” as a label for people like me is popular. “Doddering” is a term usually applied to very old and decrepit grandfathers. When it’s applied to people not on Facebook I’m not sure what it means.

I’m neither old nor decrepit. I’m older and paralyzed. There’s a difference, and it’s not that subtle.

“Stun,” “left behind” and “not with it” are among the others. Of them all, “not with it” is probably the unkindest cut of all.

Show me the grandfather who wants to be labelled “not with it.”

Ignorant and Neanderthal have nothing on it for sheer cutting power to the ego and the heart.

Show me anyone over 25 who wants to be seen as not with it. Show me someone under 25 who isn’t. It parallels the way we feel about our love life.

We start being comfortable with it — our sex life, that is — only after we reach 80. Then we can stop bragging about it and start enjoying it. That’s what I’m told.

I kept hearing horror stories about Facebook. The two sisters, for example, whose sibling relationship did nothing to dampen the ardor of their intense dislike for each other.

Seems one sister had been found happily ensconced in the bosom of the husband of the other. They fired back-yard-fence type nasty stuff at each other, on Facebook, with liberal use of the f- word, every day for some time.

There was conjecture when the feud finally ended that one of the sisters had done in the other. Or both had snuffed out the husband. Never did hear how the situation resolved itself, but the entertainment value of that episode lasted for months.

I have a friend who keeps telling me other things that people talk about. There is the lady who keeps complaining that her husband is negligent in the realm of the conjugal. In short, he is ignoring her physical needs as a woman. And shorter still, he’s no good in bed.

She should learn about the woman who is suing her husband for $30 million because he hadn’t had sex with her for 20 years. That’s longer than the average headache.

I think a good counselor could have resolved that problem. It may be, for example, that he was shy and was waiting for her to make a move on him.

Or it may be that she expected him to make the first move and lay there for 20 years waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting and. ...

Those of you who have waited for your partner for a month to start something will appreciate how she must have felt. Or perhaps she had really bad breath and a little Listerine would have had him panting.

But I digress.

The other thing about Facebook is that it is far from private. Anything written in Springdale can be read by a person in Baghdad, just as long as she has someone nearby who can translate English into Farsi.

I have a lawyer friend — not my daughter — who refuses to go on Facebook. If you could see the troubles that come about as a result of what people say on Facebook, she tells me, you would never go near it.

That statement still troubles me a bit, but not quite as much as being labelled “not with it!”

All that being said, I still decided to take a chance on it. My lawyer daughter says it’s a good way to let people know about my writing and my books. She also says I should go on Twitter.

“Facebook” sounds sort of innocuous, like “email.” Tweeting, on the other hand, has a faintly naughty aura to it. It’s the sort of thing you do that could get you pregnant.

Suggesting that I go on Twitter, on the other hand, sounds as though I’m being invited to join the Salvation Army Home League. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to visualize them sitting around twittering or tweeting.

Whatever it is, it sounds like a crowd of womem sitting in a circle producing knitted socks for the next baby shower. Nothing wrong with that, of course.

It’s just that Twitter doesn’t have a really strong masculine ring to it. Anyway, a couple of days ago I decided it was time to act.

Someone had asked me to be a friend on their Facebook so I said “What the heck” and signed up.

The next thing I knew I was being inundated with friends warning to be on my Facebook.

Didn’t expect that.

I thought I’d have to promise an autographed copy of my last book to anybody who wanted to have anything to do with me.

Several people refused that offer saying they already had one of my books. When I asked which one  they were never quite certain.

One person said, “Tomorrow will be Sunday” and that he enjoyed it very much and thanked me for writing it. I told him that book was written by Harold Horwood.

Right, he said. Yours is “The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float.” He said he enjoyed that very much, too. I had to tell him again that it wasn’t my book, although I did have a boat very much like that at one time.

That was Farley Mowat, I said, and offered him one of my own books. He politely refused, saying he had more Newfoundland books now than he intended to read.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone else on Facebook. Are you?


Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale. His email address is

Organizations: Salvation Army Home League

Geographic location: Springdale, Baghdad, Newfoundland

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