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On the trials and tribulations of Facebook

Date: 9/10/2009

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

I think I need to share with you another bulletin from the social media front.

First, I've fallen off of the Twitter bandwagon. I haven't "tweeted" in days and I feel strangely guilty.

I should, because Twitter is the magic key to social media for those of us with a scarcity of time.

If you have a blog, like I do, and a Facebook page, you can easily make the arrangements to have your Twitter posts appear on both of them. That saves you time and provides up-to-the-minute content for your friends and readers.

I know that for most of you who are far more advanced in these matters, that little revelation is far from significant. For folks like me who want to make sense of the constant deluge of information the Internet provides it is a Rosetta Stone.

This uneasy feeling from not updating my Twitter account is almost the same kind of lukewarm nausea I have when I realize I've left my beloved iPhone behind and I'm traveling in the cruel world unprotected. What if someone needs to contact me?

Of course, a rational part of my brain then tells me I functioned perfectly well for years without a cell phone that is connected to the Internet. That rational part seems to have little influence over the demands of social networking, though.

I've also encountered several other interesting Facebook phenomena. The first is the sharp sting of being "unfriended." If I had a certain level of trepidation of asking someone to be my Facebook "friend," that is nothing to realizing that one of the "friends" has slipped away and a family member as well.

Ouch. I guess this means one less Christmas present to buy.

Another issue is when you're friends with someone and they are friends with someone who is most definitely not one of your friends. You see their posts to the mutual friend and you have to resist the urge to fire off a nasty message or attempt a sloppy reconciliation over the Web.

I think people probably shouldn't go on Facebook after imbibing a few. It's not unlike making those late night phone calls to one's ex-boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, husband or boss.

Lastly, there is an interesting case for journalists. Let me announce here and now, if you're an elected official and you refuse a quote to myself or a member of my staff for a story and then post that opinion to Facebook where we can read it guess what? I'm using that quote.

An East Longmeadow official did just that send me a dollar for the American Diabetes Association and I'll tell you who (just kidding) and I thought we should give written notice before we implement such a policy. By the way, the Poynter Institute, the collective gods of journalism, report that what an elected official posts on the Internet is fair game.

Now don't worry if you're a Facebook friend and you post the trivial side of life. I'm not interested in that. I'm only interested if you put an opinion up and it's newsworthy especially if you've just stonewalled my staff or me.


I hate writing too far in advance, but I have to as a vacation week looms.

When you read this I will have returned from a week off. As my wife was away on business I can report that Lucky the Wonder Bichon and I were batching it.

That has a real meaning in our household. First, I lose the will to cook. I like to cook, but when my wife is gone, Lucky and I like a generous part of our diet to be beans and hot dogs preferably eaten right out of the pan in which it cooked.

Lucky does the dishes afterwards.

Rather than indulge in some wild and crazy middle age nonsense I tend to stick around the house more. I feel guilty if it's not clean.

I also feel guilty if I've not accomplished something significant. If the weather was good, Lucky and I spent some time working around the house. If not, then I worked on a book proposal.

I will have smoked at least one seegar in my backyard. Smoking season ends when the cold weather sets in, so I need to take advantage of it.

I may have drunk a beer. Don't tell my doctor. Although he probably gets this paper he has never once made a reference to it or what I do during the many years in which I've been under his care.

Most importantly, I will have watched DVDs of questionable drive-ins movies from the 1970s and seen Tarantino's "Inglourius Basterds," the moral equivalent of a drive-in movie today.

Gee, I hope I had a good time.

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