Friday, April 10, 2009


"Facebook" everyone says. You got to be on Facebook. Do I? I replied somewhat cynically. How come? Everybody's there, they tell me. You should be too. It's the latest thing. Oh Really? Hmmm. Well maybe they're right. After all I am a computer neanderthal. I thought figuring out how to post this blog was pretty advanced. Well, lets see. I guess if I go on Facebook lots of people will be able to see me and and then I'll be able to see them. It's Social networking, they say. I suppose so. But when I was boy social networking would have been the local Grange and the party telephone line. Everyone knew everyone else's "ring" and would listen in. The soaps were on the radio so the party line provided another form of entertainment especially for the farm wife having a little rest and a cup of tea after putting up her jellies. When a child came up missing at supper time it was an easy matter to pick up the phone and ask if anyone had seen the boy and if they had to send him home. Uncle Mont and Mr. Towle both raised some cattle and they shared vet expenses when it came time for insemination. Sometimes this took a little bit of coordination to set the right day and time and where would the vet go first, so Mont would ring up Mr. Towle to talk about the cattle business. But before launching into the matter at hand, Mont would clear his throat and loudly announce into the mouthpiece that he and Mr. Towle were about to discuss breeding, and maybe the ladies would like to hang up. Mont would have a satisfied look on his face as he would hear the various clicks on the line as the prim farm wives hung up and left him and Mr. Towle to discuss the finer aspects of cattle breeding. I don't know how we did it so many years ago, but people knew their neighbors even those a few miles away. And they knew who had which jobs and where they worked and who their kids were. We recognized everyone's car or truck when we passed
them on the road. Grandfather ran a successful service station and towing business
in town and he used the one telephone in their house. There was no phone in the shop. But somehow he got by. He received the calls he needed to get, he had plenty of cars to work on, and he made a living. Heck even when I was at the university the dorms were so decedent as to have a pay phone on every floor. Imagine. Usually down at one end of the hall. There were no phones in the rooms. Nor TV's or computers for that matter. When the phone rang someone nearby would pick it up and then yell out "Hey Bud its for you." Somehow we lived and prospered and I don't think the quality of our education suffered much. Social networking on campus meant hanging out at the student union. So I don't know. Is Facebook something new and different? Or is it just another incarnation of what we've always done? If Facebook weren't here would we still be listening in on the party line and would we know our neighbors just as well?

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