To Facebook or not to Facebook: I never thought that was the question.
For someone whose job keeps her on the computer, the answer was clear. The last thing I needed was yet another reason to stay in front of a screen.
Plus, my teenage kids didn't want me on Facebook, and I didn't blame them. I tried to imagine my parents listening in on my pink Princess phone when I was their age, or peering in to the windows of Golden Bear restaurant when my friends would gather in a booth and talk. I steered clear.
I enjoyed having the kids explain Facebook to me, occasionally telling me something they'd read or seen there. Though I knew other parents who joined, I was not even tempted.
Silly parents, Facebook is for kids.
It worked for quite a while. But recently, I've been challenged. A far-away friend lamented it was much harder for her to keep in touch with me because I was one of her few friends not on Facebook. Don't hold your breath, I sweetly told her. I started calling and emailing more often.
Every time I was asked, "You on Facebook?" I said it loud and proud: "Nope! Probably never will be!"
With my kids nearly grown, I'm slowly realizing my stand is more and more solitary. Lately the questions of whether I'm on Facebook have morphed into the assumption that everyone is.
A high school friend emailed to mention how great she thought my dad looked for his age! Huh? I replied. "Oh, saw a photo of your family on your brother's Facebook page from your Father's Day gathering." I found this vaguely unsettling. But it reminded me there is a whole world of communication going on that I can't access.
Just recently, the subject has invaded my work life. More and more often, I am referred to a Facebook page for stories I'm working on. But I can't access many of these pages unless I have a Facebook account.
I'm wavering. It would be so simple to sign up.
I'm not normally this technologically backward. I got my first Mac in 1988, a modem and sprintmail account soon after with which to communicate to my editors. I got an email address before there was anyone to email.
But I'm sadly reminded of another technological folly. I swore I'd never abandon my 35mm film. Digital wasn't real, I insisted. There were no negatives to store and organize. Eventually I realized: Exactly, no negatives to stack in boxes on my shelves! Heaven.
I sincerely doubt I'll ever embrace Facebook the way I finally converted to digital images -- this from someone who can snap 350 frames at one volleyball tournament.
I get my news from three printed newspapers delivered to my driveway, and I don't watch reality TV. Somehow opening a Facebook account seems a slippery slope into a whole world I don't want to be part of.
I know I really don't want to know the pieces of information I sometimes learn from my kids or friends who are on Facebook about other friends. "Susie had dinner at the diner last night!" "Tammy's puppy is finally housebroken!" "Carolyn just had a flat tire!"
I definitely don't want to tell the world what I am doing every single minute. I don't want what I just read about in TIME magazine on display -- a Facebook Timeline of my entire life posted for all to sort through. Perhaps mostly, I don't want to have to weigh the pros and cons of each friend request.
But I am increasingly frustrated by this virtual brick wall. I do want some of the information people share this no-longer-new way. I also sometimes worry I'm putting friends out by saying, "I didn't see that. Can you email that to me? I'm not on Facebook."
TIME magazine pinpointed that feeling this week: "Maybe the smartest -- and most frustrating -- thing of all is Facebook's emerging role as an Internet passport. It's now that much harder to get a complete online experience without it."
I "liked" Facebook better when it really was just for the kids.