I can't imagine many people without social media connections these days -- I suppose an older generation has some holdouts -- and I can assure you I am grateful for it.
Whether it's e-mail, Facebook and Twitter -- that's about it for me -- it's nice to stay connected. My laptop computer and my (very) smartphone stay busy. But there are limits.
It's a wonderful world, technology-wise, much different from our pre-senior citizen days, and it's a much better world because of it.
Yeah, there are some problems with it. If you've had your e-mail or Facebook accounts "hacked" -- broken into -- you know that's a bit of a pain. If you are a Facebook advocate, you also know you are going to see a few, or many, posts you won't like.
I've written about that several times, and I'll return to that point in a moment. But I don't mean to be complaining because I am -- no question -- a fan of social media.
It is nice to stay connected with family and friends, and to re-connect with many people from our school days and our journalism days, and to have outlets for these blog posts.
A friend teased me earlier this week: "From a guy with little interest and no use for computers many years ago, you've become what they used to call a 'power user.' "
That's a laugh. A power user? Hardly. I am not exactly technologically savvy. But I'm also not technologically illiterate. (Well, the TV remote and the printer still can cause stress and panic mode.)
I do remember the pre-computer age when we did everything on typewriters (remember them?) and when newspapers ventured into computers, most of us were apprehensive. Now, we look back and ask ... why?
Computers are so much easier, period. My opinion: Greatest change that ever happened in the newspaper world. And our personal computers? Don't know how we'd do without them.
Like many people, I probably spend too much time at my computer. It's part of the morning routine.
And while someone here thinks I spend too much time looking at my smart phone, we do draw a line. There are times when I don't want to be bothered -- for instance, when we're watching TV shows or games of special interest -- and the phone isn't even on. And, with only rare exception, the phone is not in use when I'm driving.
I did drag Beatrice into the smartphone era about a year ago.
But she's not an e-mail/Facebook user on it; too much trouble. She saves that for her trusty and much-used IPad. (And I have no problem with her choices.)
We don't text much. I'll do it, but frankly I don't enjoy it that much because it wears me out. Same with Twitter. It's a great site for up-to-the-second news and for links to stories, but -- like with texting -- enough already. (Plus, to be honest, I'm not all that fast at typing on my miniature phone keyboard. Go ahead and laugh.)
For sure, we are not -- not -- among the many people who are addicted to their phones. I have friends who pick up their phones a few moments after they get up in the morning, check e-mail and Facebook, etc., constantly, text incessantly, and don't let go of the phone until bedtime.
No, thank you.
I have figured out a few things on the computer and the phone, about e-mail and Facebook. I did -- in a bit of an upset -- set up the blog site, learned how to crop/edit photos and sometimes to even incorporate them into the blog or put them on Facebook (even a series of them) and how to send out a batch of e-mails ... without getting shut down online. (But I don't have a perfect record in that regard.)
Now, about "hacking" ...
We know how big a problem it is world-wide, how harmful it can be. On the much smaller scale, it's a bit of a distraction to have your personal e-mail or Facebook account hacked.
Twice in the past six weeks, my Facebook account has been hacked. Friends will let you know quickly and repeatedly that they've received a "friend request" from you, and they know it's a fake.
(It's an almost everyday occurrence. In the past three days, I know of four people on my "friends" list who have been hacked.)
It's a wonder to me -- as I'm sure it is to many -- that there are people out there with absolutely nothing to do other than to hack into other people's accounts. What a (lack of) life.
Here is what happened with my account the second time: They picked a profile shot out of my photo file -- I don't believe I'd ever used it) -- and they picked a photo of Bea and me with two of the grandkids as my "cover" photo (thank you).
So if you got a friend request from this guy (left), it was a fake. He was an imposter.
I had to laugh because that photo showed up in one of the "people you might know" files on my page. I accessed the fake file and it had me being born in ... 1936. Look, I'm kind of old, but I am not 79.
The Facebook hacking really isn't much of a hindrance. If your friends reject the "friend request" and make it as spam -- or if you do it yourself -- Facebook is quick to delete the fake profile.
They recommend you change your password. Which I did, and that should keep my account safe ... for a few weeks, anyway.
We don't have any pertinent information on our Facebook pages, so the hacking is not a great concern. But I have a friend whose page was hacked in another way.
On my "news feed," a post from him came up that read: "I found out this weekend just how little so many care .... the end is about here."
My reaction: Yikes.
It was a fake. It was obvious from reaction, and a subsequent message, that he was fine. When I called to check on him a few days later, he said, "That was someone just messing with me on my page."
But how does that happen? And here is what else happens: I received a friend request from a young woman in Shreveport I don't know, but who -- upon checking -- had about 25 mutual friends with me. Usually, I am very cautious about confirming friend requests, but I was too hasty here. About 30 minutes later, I got a message from the site: "I'd like to get to know you better." No, you don't. I hit the "unfriend" button. It was a fake site. My bad.
The really nice thing about Facebook, though, is to keep up with family and friends, see their photos and their family photos, and their travel adventures/photos.
But the political/social comments I monitor. If they're mean-spirited, and many are, I turn off those people's posts on news feed because I have that option. However, I do not turn off all the views I disagree with or dislike because I want to see some of what I should not be thinking. Just as a reminder.
I also don't like the negativity and criticism I see of sports teams and athletes -- even the ones I don't root for. I want to limit my negativity and I try to limit my views publicly. But I'm guilty at times (hello, Jerry Jones and Bill Belichick).
Again, honestly, as the Presidential race heats up into 2016, I might really limit my access to my Facebook news feed, and to Facebook, period. I don't want to deal with all the crap, and I sure as heck don't want to subject you to my crap.
I'll leave that for my hackers and my fake Facebook account.