I never joined Facebook

Unlike the estimated 58 percent of American adults with an account, I never joined Facebook. I can’t claim, however, to have expected that users’ data would be misappropriated.

I just didn’t want to bother.

Some friends urged me to join so that we could stay up on one another’s lives. One said flat out that email communication wouldn’t always get a reply. She couldn’t keep up. Facebook was her solution.

It was tempting. I didn’t want to lose contact. But I never got around to joining.

When I started this blog a couple of years ago, the then ChicagoNow manager said that most members promoted their blogs on Facebook. Thinking about doing Facebook was as far as I got.

I understand people like my sister-in-law, who reluctantly joined Facebook to find out what was going on with her nieces and nephews. I don’t have as many nieces and nephews to keep up with, and half of mine aren’t on Facebook. The younger ones are of the generation that prefers Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.

Now Facebook is in trouble about revelations that data from millions of users were employed to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. People are opening their eyes to the fact that Facebook was a data-mining site all along. I feel glad, of course, that it’s one place I don’t have to worry about data protection.

Facebook isn’t the only social media I’ve bypassed. I don’t do any. There weren’t deliberate decisions not to. I hardly gave any a thought.

I’ve been late to the table about adopting all sorts of new technology. I got a cellphone after most people, and later a smartphone when people were already on their third or fourth iPhone. I’m still not using my smartphone for much, just calling, texting, and occasionally checking the news when I’m out and about.

I was a latecomer to VCRs, DVDs, and cable television. I still wouldn’t have cable if it weren’t included in my condo assessment. Now Netflix keeps coming up in conversation, and I must tell people that I don’t have a subscription.

I don’t read books on an electronic device, and I still get my news from the printed page. I had a New York Times online subscription and didn’t like reading the newspaper on a screen.

Heavy tech users might sneer at me. A blogger on the site Sixty+Me said that tech avoidance distances seniors from younger people and from “access to a whole new world of possibilities — cost savings, conveniences, access to information, avoidance of traffic jams. Technology can help you share fun with loved ones, save gobs of time doing repetitive tasks like paying bills, have fun in whole new ways. It’s amazing how much the use of apps, software and websites can enrich your life. . . . there are tons of benefits to reap that you didn’t realize were there, waiting for you all this time. You’ll thank yourself for making the effort.”

That may be true. But learning to use the technology takes time, and using it more time than some people feel good about giving, judging from what I’ve been hearing. What I don’t know about, I won’t miss.

Despite how this sounds, I’m not a total technophobe. Obviously I’m online or I wouldn’t have this blog. I’ve had a website about upbeat literary fiction for a dozen years. I shop and search for information and sign up for Chicago Greeter tours and ushering gigs online. My family members would say I use email too unrestrainedly.

The technology I got accustomed to, I use lots. I’m not afraid of it.

But I don’t go looking through lists of applications in search of new ones to adopt. Maybe the apps on my phone could change my life in radical ways if I’d learn to use them. But maybe I don’t care to have my life changed. It seems, in fact, that I already spend too much time staring at a computer screen.

When or if I feel the need to simplify, organize, connect, etc., I’ll find the appropriate app. Need can drive the technology use instead of use creating a need.

As I did about the Facebook news, I have felt some validation from research about the downsides of technology dependence. But again, it wasn’t foresightedness that gave me a measure of technology independence. Whatever I don’t use, I never felt the need for. When I need it, I’ll adopt it.



"I don’t want to get my hopes up about a porn star saving the republic. But I can scarcely think of a more satisfying way for this terrible era to end."

— Michelle Goldberg, New York Times

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