I'm the kind of person who skips to the conversation when reading a book.
My father is a remarkably independent, alert 82 year old. He has a problem though; he struggles with Facebook.
It all began (and still begins) with the sign-on page. “Welcome to Facebook” reads the tab in my browser, but it is most welcoming to those who need a new account Facebook, not those who are already have one. Those who have already signed up have to look for a little log-in section in the upper right of the page.
“Why does Facebook keep asking me to sign up again?” my father asked me one day. “And then it tells me that I already have an account.”
Every time he went to the sign-in page, it was the same thing. The big “SIGN UP” caught his eye, not the little “log in”.
Yesterday he asked me if I had brought any pictures to show him from Florida.
“No, Dad,” I said apologetically. “I think the days of hard copies of photos from a trip are gone. I can show you some of the pictures on Facebook, though.”
“I just don’t get Facebook,” he grumbled. “It’s hard to get on, and, when I finally get there, it seems like a bunch of silly conversations that I don’t care about.”
“I’ll just show you how to find the pictures,” I told him.
I was busy making dinner while we had this conversation. He asked me about the pictures several times, so finally I suggested that Grace or Hannah show him the pictures on Facebook.
“Log on to Grampa’s account for him,” I told Hannah. She obediently ran into the computer room, and a few minutes later I peeked around the corner at the two of them looking at photographs together on the computer.
“So you found the pictures?” I asked as I joined them.
“These are wonderful,” my father said. “And I can just click on this carrot to get to the next one?” he asked Hannah.
“Yep,” she said, “just click on that little arrow.”
He clicked through a few pictures. He looked up at me. “These are wonderful,” he said again.
“Now, how do I get back to Facebook?” he asked, hovering the pointer over the “x” that would exit the whole browser.
“Don’t click on that, Dad,” I told him. “Just click on this ‘x’ here.” I showed him how to escape a photo album and still stay in Facebook.
“What is all this nonsense?” he asked, looking at the news feed.
Unfortunately, he was pointing to a line on his news-feed in which Finley was wishing one of his friends a happy birthday and had included a bunch of hearts. To be funny, of course.
“It just tells you what other people are saying,” I explained.
“And I don’t need to pay attention to this?” he asked, pointing to the advertising along the right side of the page.
“No, just ignore that,” I said.
“And where did those photos go again?”
Hannah helped him find the Florida pictures while I looked on.
“How do I get out of this again?” he asked, about to exit the browser again.
I showed him how to exit the album instead.
“And what’s all this?” he asked.
It struck me then, that Facebook is nothing more than a bunch of distractions. Whether it’s games, advertising, or nonsense statuses, it really is a whole lot of nothing.
Except the pictures from Florida.
They make it worthwhile.