This past week I took a major plunge into waters that perhaps I should not tread. I have become a member of the online community Facebook. This decision was not entered into lightly.
I am one of those older people who have invaded the young, hip space of Facebook and brought the mean age to dizzying heights. It is a way to connect with friends, to showcase only what you want people to see or know about you. It's a way of interacting with people without actually making an effort to talk on the phone or meet in person.
I started off with no friends, but within a few short hours, I had made 5 friends; and by the end of the day, I had made 18 friends! Try to do that at a cocktail party. Is this some pyramid scheme?
Still a novice, there is much to learn. You can simply read what others have written and/or you can post comments, pictures, etc., on your own home page and the home pages of others.
I won't name names here, of course, but some community members regale Web surfers with tales of what they are doing at that very moment: laundry, putting on a bandage, sewing a button on a shirt, wasting away in Margaritaville.
I don't think I will be sharing information to that detail. Still, it is appealing to learn of the interests of others, some of which can be surprising. For instance, a good friend of mine, who joined after I did, just became friends with his wife of many years.
So far, I have reconnected with friends from high school, which is really a good thing because it gives you an opportunity, before you die, of getting things off your chest that have been there for years, even decades, and it allows your curiosities to be satisfied. It's like having a high school reunion without the expense and travel.
Many say that Facebook is addictive. And after staying up one night until 3 a.m. navigating the site, I have to agree. Once you see your number of friends increasing, you want that number to skyrocket.
Admittedly, I have Facebook envy, as I have noted some of my "friends" have friends of their own that number in the hundreds. How can someone find time for work, school, family and other obligations when one must meet the demands of the maintenance and nurturing of hundreds of friends?
Maybe my long-lived search for popularity will fade and this novelty will wear off. Maybe after a while, no one will chat me up, post something on my home page, look at my pictures or comment on my comments. Maybe the number of my friends will plummet to zero.
I'm still uncertain whether Facebook is for me, so I guess "Twittering" is out of the question.
James J. Peters is a freelance medical editor who lives in Orlando.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times