Facebook: From College Hangout to Senior Citizen Center
There are two segments of the population that are considered the weakest. Those being babies and the elderly. The only difference between the two is that Zuckerberg won't let babies sign up for their own Facebook account. Not yet at least. Some parents are doing just that under ol' Zuck's radar, but it's contrary to his rules (and on Facebook, you have to play by HIS rules). Babies are largely the only class of people who are free from the tendrils of Facebook. The elderly are not as lucky. They are becoming more and more entwined each day. The elderly are the easiest target, and they tend to linger on Facebook the longest. What a prize they are for the world's biggest social media behemoth.
If you are over 60 and you have signed up for Facebook you are royally zucked. A week or two ago I wrote about my precious in-law who had become a slave to Facebook. He is not alone. There are millions of people, just like him, wasting away in office chairs and recliners all over the world, slowly dying as they are hooked up (or 'connected') to the life support system known as Facebook.
They say that wisdom comes with age. But does it go out the window when one becomes a Facebook member-slave? How does wisdom play in when someone spends their every waking hour engaged in political arguments and being riled to the (brittle) bone? The aged have lived through more than the young. That's basic. They have seen history play in ways that the young just can't understand. They have been in the world during times that you can't imagine. Many grew up in a world where there was no such thing as personal computers, laptops, cell phones, or social media. They never thought that they needed those things and many of them think that they were better off, as they will gladly tell you (over and over again) through Facebook. That's the paradox, how the old get on Facebook to tell you how life was better before Facebook, yet many of them are on it the most. If life was so better before Facebook why are they living their golden years on Facebook? That's the question...
We could ask questions like this all day long, but the truth is, they are hooked and have no escape because Facebook is now their world. When was the last time you went to grandma's house? Maybe not recently. Perhaps she's always on Facebook, whether you are there or not? That could be close to the truth for some of my readers. What about grandpa? Maybe he's too fired up about the next election and just knows that Biden is going to win or the entire world is going to go straight to hell? Yet, once you bring up Facebook to many of these fine folks, they tell you how much they hate the site and wish it didn't exist. Another paradox.
I wonder if Zuckerberg didn't become the CEO and half-inventor of Facebook, would he have become a drug lord? It's not something I think about every night as I go to sleep (more like every other night), but I kind of wonder. There's no doubt in my mind that Facebook is perhaps one of the biggest drugs, if not the biggest drug, on earth. It stimulates the mind in many (not so good) ways, and it seems that the old have minds that are easily attracted to this particular way of stimulation. I wrote about my in-law and how he felt that the world as he knew it was gone, and with it, his relevance was, too. Yet, on Facebook, he receives likes, and those likes make him feel relevant once again. This rebirth of relevance, as you could call it, has him conversing and giving something back to the world, at least in his mind. With every meme he shares he is once again providing "meaning" to the world, and the more likes he gets, the more acceptance he receives from those who otherwise may have forgotten him (at least in his mind). It makes him feel good until the next political angsty post makes his blood pressure shoot up and he goes into a tyrannical rage. The rollercoaster of Facebook.
I mentioned how this precious in-law was once a deacon and how Facebook has kind of taken the place of that. This is perhaps common in those who served in many ways and do not feel alive in the way that they used to. I think that's one reason why we see so many pro-veteran posts amongst the aged. Many Facebook users feel good to see the flag, respect for soldiers of wars such as Vietnam and World War II, and share that stuff like it is candy at a Fourth of July parade. Life has a way of making you relevant one year and later on making you kind of a bump on a log, so to speak. Everyone passes on. All people die. Some people were once in the limelight and can't stand the absence of being seen and heard. All humans want to be recognized. All people want to feel accepted, loved, and relevant. Facebook may be the only place that many feel this way.
While that sounds great and all, the negative is that Facebook is the place where these senior citizens, some of our finest, go to spend most of their final days.
Life is largely a fantasy, and life on Facebook is, too. If a person is happy spending their final days hooked up to the screen, that's fine I suppose. Let them rot playing Farmville if that is their wish, some will say. It is a free country and largely a free world. If they want to spend their days pushing their children and grandchildren away because they don't support the same political party, why stop them? Sure, I get that. By all means, they are free agents and they can do as they see fit. Who am I to stop them? Do I want to? Nope. Not at all. I merely hope to educate the public on the fact that social media isn't as "pretty" as one thinks it is. It is not necessary to have a Facebook profile in the modern world. If you don't want to be on the site, you should not be seen as a pariah or anti-Luddite. The aged need to sometimes be gently reminded of things that are not good for them. Sometimes grandpa might find himself on the verge of another heart attack because he is so irate over the casino moving his favorite keno machine to the opposite side of the game room. A gentle nudge and a word of encouragement sometimes helps save one from sudden death. "Grandfather, it will be a nice walk, and look, it's a lot closer to the snack bar!"
Just as we would remind grandpa to settle down over seeing the gaming machines moved, we should give him a gentle reminder of how life isn't all about what they see on Facebook. "Let's go out on a picnic and enjoy life outside," does wonders. "Grandpa, do those Nanci Pelosi memes really bring you joy, or are you just getting all worked up again?" Sometimes grandma doesn't mention it because she doesn't want to hear him go off again. Show grandpa that you have noticed the changes, too. "I have seen you are upset a lot more since you got on Facebook. Maybe you should give it a break?" At least give him something to think about. "Grandpa, I haven't seen you doing your woodwork for a while. I miss seeing your carvings." Oftentimes Facebook replaces an old hobby that would be beneficial to take up again, and once taken up, would be a source of joy. Woodworking, or whatever it may be, will do a person a lot more good in life than staying on Facebook will. Nobody needs to be sharing those stupid Pelosi memes.
The quality of our golden years is largely dependent on how we develop our minds throughout life. If you are spending your thirties, forties, fifties, and sixties living and breathing social media and not working out your brain, what do you expect when you hit seventy, eighty, and ninety? Our futures depend greatly on how we spend our time today. It is so important for people to take up hobbies (sharing Trump tweets is not a hobby). It is so important to do something with your hands, mind, imagination, and body. It is important to have a well-rounded life. I'm talking about exercise -- both mental and physical. Work out that body. Stretch that mind. Play with your vivid (or cobweb-filled) imagination. Read good books (Facebook is NOT a book despite the fact that the word BOOK is in it). Some people tell me that they do all their reading on Facebook. Oh no, no no no. Don't you dare say that. If that is the case, your mind is probably mush, and your knowledge bank is corrupted beyond belief.
We are all granted only one life. How often we forget that we have incredible power to shape our lives. You are an architect over your life, and you have the ability to shape not only who you are today, but who you will be tomorrow. If you wasted years on Facebook in the past, so what? Those days are over. They are now irrelevant. All that matters is the future. All that matters is who you are committed to becoming. You have the power to change right now, today. Every single person has the power to put down any addictive activity that they engage in and restart life at any time that they wish. You just have to have faith and act on that faith. You are not a piece of sludge, you are a living, breathing, powerful human being. Act like it!
No matter how old someone is doesn't mean that they should see themselves doomed to the prison of Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg may writhe if he sees his army of senior citizens deactivating their accounts, but that's going to be his problem, not yours. Put down the keyboard and mouse, take up the 10 lb weight, and start getting the rest of your body in the same shape that your fingers are. Stand up and stretch those ancient joints. Feel the bones snap and crackle as they move away from the computer. Open the door and feel that wind in your face. Look outside and see the world in all its glory in front of you. Smell the fresh air and taste the endless possibilities of life. If your children don't call you or visit once you leave Facebook, go find some new friends and be a part of something better than the land of the humblebrag™. Freedom tastes good at any age. Enjoy it. Let Zuckerberg find someone else to torment. It surely doesn't have to be you!
Are you ready to make Zuckerberg wiggle and shake in nervous anticipation? Do you feel that even though your age is at least five times your shoe size, that it's too late for you to start over? Do not despair. It's never too late to do anything as long as your breathing. If you can stand up and walk, do it. Do you know someone who needs to get their butt out of their chair? If so, tell me all about in the comments. I'm all ears and I love to hear your stories. Thank you for reading!