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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Facebook - The Digital Front Porch

First picture I posted of me and Daisy
People make fun of Facebook friends who post pictures of their dinners, their dogs and cats, or the first snow falling on their patio. Yet, somehow, these are some of the most popular posts on FB. I can post a profound piece on politics or religion that I think is earth-shaking and get a couple of thumb's up. But I post a picture of Mama's mashed potatoes or the dog napping in my lap and generate dozens of likes and comments. Why are people interested in all that mundane stuff. Why do I get 95 "likes" for a picture of my wife laughing her head off while we're taking our anniversary picture.

I think it's because these posts are like an invitation by a friend to come by the house. It's an spontaneous kind of intimacy with friends and neighbors that we've somehow lost when we quit building homes with decent front porches.

Oh, I occasionally tweak a liberal friend and get into a running debate over something Trump did or some comment I made disparaging some beloved tenet of progressivism. And we've had some tub-thumper arguments, but hey. Back in the olden days, we used to do that sort of thing with a Coke in hand with friends on the porch of the local grocery and gas station with a bunch or other old geezers looking for a fight. 

Facebook has taken over the role of the old front porch. In exactly the same way that we used to talk about our cars, our grandkids, or the latest backyard project we have going, we post pictures and comments about our personal lives on Facebook so people we know and like can feel like they are keeping up with us.

I occasionally bump into an old friend or family member that I haven't seen in a while, and as we talk, I realize that we are taking up threads of conversations leftover from posts we made on Facebook or other social media. "How was that trip to Cancun?" you ask, having seen the 44 pictures she posted of the trip. "I see your granddaughter is really sprouting up."  You can say that because grandma has posted 157 pictures of the kid documenting every day of the child's life since birth. A lot of millenial precious snowflakes make fun of us older folk for posting the stuff that we do, but hey, at least we don't post hourly selfies showing who we are with at the moment, where we are standing and what we are wearing.

I try to post interesting things, but I'm also guilty of having posted more than my share of cute doggie pictures over the years. I still occasionally post pictures of my dog Daisy even though she's been dead a year and a half. Facebook even helps out by suggesting that I repost old pictures I posted five or six years ago. I am often surprised how many of those old pictures are of me and the dog.

You can criticize Zuckerberg all you want for his liberal bias, but the boy does understand the appeal of the digital front porch he's created. If he and his minions can just stand to not try and tell us all what we can talk about on our own porches, Facebook could last forever in some form or another - or at least till the world comes to an end (a subject about which we can also debate on the "porch" with several dozen of our closest digital buddies).

Facebook posts don't have to be profound. Social media is the digital successor of front porches, Saturday night jam sessions down at the VA, the town square, the pen pal, and the sister who calls you on the phone and talks for two hours. So I'll go on posting my dog pictures and my latest do-it-myself project photos and I'm not ashamed! If you want to look at the couch I reupholstered myself or the cigar box banjo I built or me playing with Jellybean, you're welcome. If you'd rather look at selfies of your friends, then there's a place for that too.

Tell you what; I won't make fun of your selfies if you won't make fun of my photos of homemade pizza!  Okay?

© 2017 by Tom King

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