Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - May 29, 2015

"I don't even know these people!"

I'm relatively new to the whole "social network scene." I've been texting, Snapchatting and WhatsApping on my smart phone for a few years, but still feel like a fish out of water.

Texting is sometimes easier than calling. It's also good when you want to share a picture, phone number or an email address with someone on the go. I've also noticed daughters Mariya and Katie respond more promptly to texts than calls. In fact, if I leave a voice message, they normally just call back without ever listening to it.

Snapchat allows users to send and receive "self-destructing" photos and videos called Snaps. Although the sender can decide how many seconds the recipient can view the Snap before the file disappears, those who are quick can "screen capture" them if they want. I get a kick out of the crazy ones the girls send early in the morning or just before bed, but I don't make any myself.

WhatsApp is a smart phone application that is a lot like texting, but works across the world with no additional charges. I send texts, photos and videos to my sister Gaila in Bolivia and "adopted" kids Nadja and Tim in Germany. It's a more convenient way to communicate than emailing or Skyping, although I use them plenty, too.

Facebook? For some reason, I have resisted taking the plunge - that is, until Katie helped me set up an account a few months ago. For the few others like me who were late to the game or have opted to not join, it is a free social networking website that allows a user to create a profile, upload photos and video, send messages and keep in touch. The big difference between it and all the others I mentioned is the user doesn't normally choose a recipient. Instead, it is sort of like posting on a public bulletin board. Everything you post your friends can see and everything they post you get to see.

When Katie initiated me, I checked Facebook every few days and would get "sucked in" - spending anywhere from one to two hours looking at photos, posts, comments, "friend requests" and updated profiles. Then it went to about once a week and now it is more like every two weeks.

Both our girls use Facebook frequently, although Katie "hid" her profile for several weeks because she felt she was getting too addicted to it and decided to take a break. She says she prefers Twitter. (I won't even go there!)

The girls call Gaila and I "creepers" - only checking what other people post and not posting much ourselves. I guess college friend Deb would be in that category, too. She texted:

We didn't grow up in such an exposed social environment. I don't have the need or desire to share so many intimate details with others and really don't want to know all that of others either. It sucks u in & wastes so much time & energy I can use being creative or just taking a nap!

I did decide to post a photo recently. It was of 25 of us helping niece Larisa celebrate her graduation from college. When I returned to Facebook half an hour later, my photo was down the posts 10 or 12 positions, overtaken by others posted after mine. Ah, such is the nature of "social media." What's new one minute is outdated the next!

Mom, now 91, wasn't too excited when her friend Stan signed her up for Facebook last spring. She immediately noticed that her email inbox was being inundated with messages. I explained it was because every time someone put up a new picture or posted a comment or updated a profile, a message alerting her to that fact is sent.

She wanted them stopped, but I had no clue how to do that. But Katie did.

Scrolling through her home page, Mom said, "I don't even know these people!"

I laughed and explained that Facebook is a great example of a friend knowing a friend who knows another friend ... Before long, you wonder how many of those people you know at all!

Facebook can be annoying in another way. I'm not overly fond of reading political slogans or people's religious views. I admit to growing up in the era when politics and religion were subjects to be avoided in friendly conversation.

That's OK, though. I don't have to read everything that's on Facebook. I can skim through people's comments, learn a bit about human nature and connect with those I'm interested in.

And I do like keeping up with family members' and friends' birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions. And then there are the recipes, the cute photos and videos of babies, puppies and kittens.

When I mentioned the latter to Katie, she said, "Then you'd love Pinterest!"

OK, I'm outta here!

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