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Tag Archives: FacebookImage
We live in a modern age – something which, on reflection, has been true of all ages. But for some of us, now in our eighties, the speed of technological change is devastating. I have a “smart phone” which I suspect is smarter than me. I watch kids run the danger of walking into lamp posts and fire hydrants as they focus on their cell phones. The use of cell phones with ear plugs makes it hard to know when someone is having a conversation with a friend and when they are simply talking with personal demons.
Others can text and twitter – I can do neither and have no desire to learn. Not arrogance on my part but simple self-protection. I have only so many working brain cells and I’m not prepared to assign some of them to the tasks of learning a new language.
Facebook, however, did appeal to me. It was easy, it was friendly, I could write in complete sentences. I tended to look at my Facebook page several times a day. I had accumulated something like 500 or 600 “friends”, mainly because I hated not “friending” someone who wanted that contact and also because at 82 I was shy of asking people if I really knew them.
In a long life one knows many people. And forgets many.
All was well until one day I was notified by Facebook that my page had been hacked. It seems by someone in Romania. I needed a new password. I created a new password (my brain is still able to churn out endless numbers of passwords). But it seemed that what I had done was also create a new page, a virtual doppelganger, though without my picture or any of the names of my friends, or any of the lists of facebook groups I belonged to.
I was able, once on this new faceless page, to “search for” David McReynolds and found my original, personal page – but I could not “enter it”, or access any of the contacts on it. I also found – useful to remind one that none of us are as unique as we think – that there is another David McReynolds in New York, someone I’ve never met.
It was at this point that Facebook revealed a very basic problem. There is literally and absolutely no way to contact a human being on the management end. The computer gives you many choices, but if none of them work, and the computer asks “was this helpful?” and you respond “no”, there is a polite computer-driven message saying “thank you for your input, Facebook is working steadily to improve its service”. That’s it – no further contact is possible.
This was something I had never encountered before. I’ve had problems with my email servers (I was bounced from AOL and Earthlink and gave up on Roadrunner) but was always able to reach a human being. In the case of Earthlink I got a competent technican who was working from someplace in the mid-west, and spent more than two hours with me on the phone trying to find out what was wrong. In the end we parted ways when he said “I think we’ve gone as far as we can go” and disconnected me from Earthlink. But Facebook has no way to reach a living person.
I had two Facebook pages in my name, but could neither disengage from the doppelganger nor return to my original personal page.
I’m not angry about this – I gather Facebook has all kinds of much more serious problems on its hands. I am a realist – I know I am but a speck of computer dust in a vast machinery of hundreds of millions of people. Facebook is so vast and anonymous, it really is not affected if someone gets angry, so there is no point wasting energy on anger.
But I do hope, first, to let any of you who might have been “friended” by me, and dropped occasional notes, know that I’m fine, well and friended by two quite marvelous cats. You can reach me by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Facebook still sends me email notes that this or that person has sent me a message, but of course I can’t reach them without getting on Facebook . . . and I can’t get on Facebook.
This is not to say that I discount the value of Facebook. One of my conservative friends has told me it is wonderful that he can connect with relatives and friends, that he feels in touch in new and deeper ways to the entire world. (I will send this little column to my international list so that any foreign friends will know I am fine – just faceless on Facebook).
I’ve no intention of asking computer savvy friends to help me get back on Facebook. I am happy to let this be a small bit of elderly rebellion against the increasingly faceless nature of our technology. I’ll spare you from the news of what I had to eat tonight, or what I did this Saturday, or what TV program I’m about to watch. But please, be well. And if you are on Facebook, try not to lose face.
This is a column written by David McReynolds. McReynolds has served the War Resisters League as staff and represented the Socialist Party USA as its Presidential candidate in 1980