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Opinion >  Column

Paul Turner: Don’t blame me, I’m only on Twitter

UPDATED: Wed., April 11, 2018

FILE- This Feb. 5, 2007 file photo shows Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. (Paul Sakuma / AP)
FILE- This Feb. 5, 2007 file photo shows Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. (Paul Sakuma / AP)

So yes, those of us who have never been on Facebook are feeling pretty smug these days.

We happy few. We’re reveling in our militant abstainer status.

(What’s the proper way to say it? Belong to Facebook? Held hostage by Facebook? Expected to use way too many exclamation points by Facebook?)

The ubiquitous social network’s numerous ethical lapses, broken privacy promises, suspect business practices and outright lying have recently made never signing up seem like a smart move. Whereas, before, being one of the last holdouts smacked of living like a technophobe Luddite. At least to some.

Perhaps you are familiar with this scenario.

Someone, a co-worker perhaps, excitedly alludes to a bit of personal news he or she has shared, clearly assuming that you are in the loop on that all-important anniversary announcement or Tooth Fairy bulletin. When informed that you are not an F-word member, the excited speaker suddenly takes on the grim pallor and dyspeptic countenance of someone who has unhappily soiled his or her pants.

“Oh, that’s right. You’re not on Facebook.”

(Cue the shower scene music from “Psycho.”)

You might have seen it. The Facebooker’s visage is dripping with disdain.

Is this how lepers used to be treated?

Never mind that any kind of assumed universality ignores a fundamental truth of our society. That is, we aren’t all the same.

Or, to put it in what I understand is Facebook language: To each his own!!!!

OK, let’s be clear. Being on Facebook has an undeniable utility, both personally and professionally.

At least that’s what I’m told. I wouldn’t know.

I was once in a meeting here at the newspaper with maybe a dozen other staffers. The editor leading the session said something like “Everybody here is on Facebook, right?”

I remained silent, even though I had admitted in print that I am not on Facebook. A small act of dishonesty or cowardice? Perhaps.

I prefer to think I simply did not wish to derail the session with a time-wasting invitation to take turns gawking at my dinosaurian presence or otherwise regard me as a talking chimp or some other oddity.

“How do you live?”

There is no reason my personal case for eschewing Facebook would interest you. But let’s just say the portrayal of that company’s founder in a movie about the social network years ago filled me with such loathing that the idea of turning over my personal data to his business seemed decidedly insane.

Oh sure, I freely admit that is a poor basis for evaluating a real-life individual or a commercial enterprise.

I guess he’s a philanthropist now. Or something. When he’s not making promises before Congress about addressing his company’s various misdeeds.

But sticking with my “No, thanks” policy has always been easy. Really easy.

In any case, this isn’t an “I told you so.”

Lots of my acquaintances would be lost without Facebook. It’s how they stay connected to family and friends and share pictures of what they looked like when they were 20.

Nor do I wish to come off like some peevish ranter who refers to the online world as “newfangled” or fears that any technological progress – even something as well-established as Facebook – is an assault on the sacred good old days.

Hey, I use Twitter. A little.

Here’s a tweet I liked last week, from entertainer Albert Brooks.

“Today I sent Mark Zuckerberg my entire medical history just to save him some time.”

Maybe I’m just bitter. It wouldn’t be the first time.

You might have heard that things are not all that great for the newspaper industry right now. But we have our rally caps on.

And blaming Facebook or whatever for the state of print newspapers is just another version of blaming the customer, usually not a sound business practice.

But has it amused me that F-book has lately gone from one misstep to another?


Maybe just a little.

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