I have to admit I have mixed feelings about Facebook. I also have to admit that I use Facebook. My kids, all twenty somethings, live in a Facebook world. I want to stay connected with my kids and the world they inhabit, so have made the difficult decision to renounce my former Luddite ways and make an effort to cautiously embrace the technology that surrounds me.
Facebook has many good features. For instance, I like being able to see pictures of friends and family. Just last month I had a friend request from a relative in Denmark, and it has been great to be able to browse his photo album and see pictures of the small island my grandpa was from, including a picture of the actual house he was born in.
I also enjoy the private message system, which I have used quite often when I have been travelling. Then there is the instant messaging system. I have to constantly remind myself that my kids are part of a generation that does not use the phone as their preferred means of communication. They message, either by text or through an instant message system like you find on Facebook. Again, I have found this is a nice way to stay connected with my kids when I have been away.
I have also found it quite useful when I have needed my son to take out the garbage and was getting no response to my verbal requests. No problem- I could see he was online, so just sent him a message. It surprised him enough that he actually emerged from his room, shaking his head at me like I had lost my mind, and proceeded to take the garbage out. Bonus points for Facebook!
There are also some Facebook pitfalls, and I fear I have fallen into one. Unlike many people (can you hear the self-righteousness in my tone?), I do not sit on Facebook all day, endlessly creeping people's walls and posting minute by minute updates about my life. I have, however, developed the habit of checking my Facebook page first thing in the morning, and then again at lunch. It is the lunch check-in that I feel slightly guilty about.
I used to listen to CBC radio every noon, catching up on the latest happenings here in our province of British Columbia. Now the radio sits sad and neglected on my kitchen counter while I skim through my friends' pictures or look to see what they have recently posted. What's that you say? The premier of our province just resigned? Well, he should put up a page on Facebook if he expects me to keep up with what he is doing. And if he does have a Facebook page he hasn't sent me a friend request, so it's really not my fault if I didn't know.
Then there are the endless quizzes and game requests. Now these are things I usually ignore, at least I was ignoring them until my daughter-in-law Diana phoned me a few days ago. She asked if I had seen the Facebook quiz called "How Chinese Are You?" I told her no, I didn't do Facebook quizzes (more self-righteousness in case you missed it).
She then went on to tell me she had taken the quiz and scored a 0%. A 0%? Diana? I laughed and asked her how that could possibly have happened. I doubted anyone could score a 0% even if they were trying to. It seemed especially unlikely that Diana would have scored a 0%. I asked her if she had ever in her whole life got a zero on a quiz and she said no, never.
This is how I got sucked into taking my first, and I assure you, last Facebook quiz. As soon as I hung up the phone I headed for my computer and started answering the questions. At the end of the quiz I hit submit and up popped my score. It turns out that Facebook rates me as 50% Chinese.
So here is my caution for all of you who have ever taken a Facebook quiz. That quiz that said your IQ was 150? Well, you might want to shave a few points off that score. The quiz about which hockey player you are most like? Scratch Wayne Gretzky and fill in the guy with the beer gut playing in the local men's over 50 league. Which historic figure do you most closely resemble? Winston Churchill make way for George Bush.
The reason for my sounding the alarm about the accuracy of Facebook quizzes? Here, in picture #1, is me, with my Viking blue eyes and unruly brown hair, who Facebook has declared to be 50% Chinese.
Here, in picture #2, is my son Karsten and his wife Diana. Total. Facebook. Fail.