September 3, 2009

Facing “The Book” in my 50s

Am I too old for Facebook?

Am I too old for Facebook?

So it’s no secret — I’m well into my 50s. I learned the basics using pencils with portable erasers that were the size of small Volkswagens. Eventually I graduated to relying on secretaries who used carbon paper. These same secretarial resources also made my thoughtful presentations come to life using some low-cost overhead projections. Then life got fancy and we all started using slides! The fax machine really changed the whole mindset though — I was suddenly able to “do my own faxes” (well, usually).
I’ve been able to stay abreast of all this change because for the past 30-plus years I have worked in the communications industry surrounded by lively, smart young people — all using the latest technology. But there have been personal influences as well — my 20-something daughters! Their school demanded that they own laptop computers starting in 8th grade!

So in the last two years along comes this opportunity called “social media.” Employees are (for the most part) abuzz, trade journals provide weekly updates and editorial positions on this thing called “social” and family is already there with Facebook. Hmmm. If 20-something daughters can chat with friends and show pictures, why can’t I? And after all, this is the business I’m in! So the combination of pressures was too great and with one nervous leap I was officially on Facebook. My first week on “The Book” was memorable. Tons of people were “on my wall,” others invited me to be their “friend” — what had we been up until then? I was tagged, blocked and God knows what else. And while all of this was memorable, it was not stimulating! Why?

1. Most of the early respondents were my daughters’ friends from high school! All nice kids, some were noticeably more mature but most were offering comments like, “Mr. G. — Cool to see that you are doing Facebook!” or “finally you’re on The Book — where is Mrs. G.?”
2. Most of the messages were weird “inside” jokes or outright dumb remarks.
3. Truthfully, to be “good” at this social media thing, you have to be on the edge of your computer as much of the day as possible and, quite frankly, I’d rather be on the golf course.

Please don’t misunderstand — I like technology and I love people. But The Book is too much for me. Besides which, golf is a very social game.