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I start my adventure in social media

Date: 6/15/2009

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

Having recently turned 55, I have that conflicted feeling of sometimes thinking I'm just as with it as I used to be and other times convinced that the world is whizzing past me while I'm in the breakdown lane.

The new emphasis on social media has added fuel to this fire. Are you on Facebook? Well, I recently caved to peer pressure from a friend who told me the best way to communicate with him was not by e-mail or cell phone, but by posting on his Facebook page.

That meant I would have to join Facebook. Sigh.

Now, I have my own blog that I update several times a week (legal disclaimer: if you hunt it down remember it has no association with these newspapers, its staff, its advertisers, etc.).

The blog is an interesting writing experience as many times I come home bushed and simply don't want to write another word. The blog manages to silently exercise a certain level of guilt on me and frequently it wins.

It doesn't help that one friend of mine updates his blog every day at 6 a.m. It's part of his routine. I'm still in the arms of Morpheus at that time.

I have e-mail at work and home. I thought that was enough in terms of personal communication. Boy, I was wrong. When it comes to social media I was a slacker.

By the way, I have easily resisted all of these e-mails from or about people searching for me. I figure that if people with whom I went to school really want to get in touch with me I'm a pretty easy person to find on the Web.

And if the last reunion was any evidence, there are plenty of people in my little 108-member class who didn't talk to me in 1972 and sure as hell have no reason to talk to me now.

But, according to the e-mails, they really want to "connect" with me now and yes, so does an oil minister in Nigeria for a money transfer.

Last year, the invitations to LinkedIn starting coming into my inbox. Okay, that service seemed reasonable with its business approach. I dutifully filled in my information and essentially nothing has happened.

Next came Twitter. I signed up for Twitter and was instructed by the Web site I should "follow" someone. In a fairly random act, I chose actor Wil Wheaton. He was writing about his dog looking at him.

I have a dog who stares at me at home so I really don't need to spend the limited time I have on this earth reading about someone else's pooch.

I "un-followed" Wheaton and decided to post about what I was covering. I don't "tweet" every day and I try to make the posts relevant to people other than myself.

I've seldom written about personal matters on my blog. With this job, it wouldn't be very prudent. Twitter is really no different. I can't assume anyone would really want to read the minutia of my life people have their own minutia!

And my deep, dark, cynical opinions I'll just keep to myself as well.

The Facebook page has an interesting twist as you send out invitations to people to be your "friend" only friends can view your whole page and communicate with you.

Waves of high school angst started flooding over me. What if someone doesn't want to be my friend? Can I ask people I work with to be friends or does that invitation violate some sort of separation of work and home? Is it politically correct?

Luckily for my ego, there are people who want to be my Facebook friend, but now that page, like my blog, demands content.

I think the theory all of these Web innovations are to allow you to easily be in contact with people. I have to admit that sometimes I miss the days of just relying on a telephone and the mail.

But then, I am old.

This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments to or to 280 N. Main St., E. Longmeadow, Mass. 01028.