Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Is Facebook Wasting Retiree Time?

Recently a Facebook friend announced he is shutting down his page to all but a few relatives.  He says it is getting in the way of doing those things he really wants/should do.   So it made me wonder as well.  Is the time I spend on Facebook worth it?    

On the plus side, here are some things I learned on Facebook that in all likelihood I would never have learned or learned much later.

  • My cousin, J.C., died after a long battle with cancer.  Another cousin posted the news soon after it happened.  And my cousin's daughter posted enough that I knew his family was present at the time.    I would have eventually learned of J.C.'s passing, but not nearly as fast.  And very unlikely to have heard anything about the time leading up to his dying because I wouldn't get home for the funeral.   I was also able to let J.C.'s niece (a non-facebook person) know right away for which she was very appreciative.  A B+ posting.
  • My cousin, Jimmy, just got married to Jack in New York (where it is legal).  I haven't seen Jimmy in probably 40 years.   I've kept up with his mom and dad through the years so I knew a little of what was going on in his life, but not much.  So I was very happy to share in Jimmy's good news and his happiness, if only through Facebook.  And I'm guessing Facebook is the ONLY way I would have known.  An A+ posting.
  • I come from a large family and it keeps getting larger.  I know because people keep posting proud grandma/grandpa/great grandma/great grandpa pictures.  Would never hear about the 1st cousins twice removed (cousins' kids' kids) any other way.   But as I am sure I'm still missing many other births and haven't felt terribly bad about it, I'll call this a C posting.
  • Bill has a small extended family (compared to mine) and knows few of them.  Through Facebook I have befriended a number of his cousins and their children.  After posting on Jane V.S.'s page I was headed to California for vacation, she connected us up to her dad, Peter, Bill's 1st cousin.  We met Peter and spent the day hiking and hope to see him again our next trip out.  Definitely an A posting.

These are all family postings though.  I have many more examples of things I learned through my wanderings on relative pages.   Like my friend, I could eliminate non-family members and be in the same place.  So what of my non-relatives?    Have my posts and time spent on non-relative friends' pages been worth it?   Do I accomplish anything except wasting time?  To answer this question, I reviewed my past activity to see how I felt about it looking back.

First off I don't have that many friends.   And my friends can be classified into those I will check in on frequently and those that I may check on occasionally.  Then there are those I never check on because either a) I really don't know who they are or b) their comments/lives simply don't interest me much.   I suppose I could de-friend the latter folks, but since I spend no time with them they don't really waste my time.  Why make them feel bad?  Maybe they are spending time with me and love everything about me.  (Who wouldn't?)   So the potential time waster comes from reading the posts of those folks I visit or from my own posting.  Hence, my review of various types of posts and assessment of time wasted.

  • "Give me your thoughts" posts.  For the most part when I ask for an opinion I get it.  Even if I don't act on it, where else can I get the thoughts of people I know without sending out lots of emails or making calls.   And if I am asked for an opinion, I gladly add it to the conversation.  I'm calling these A class posts.
  • Give-Away/Sweepstakes posts.  I've done a lot of these and they are not good.  I never win and then I'm stuck seeing their updates most of which do not interest me.  Having learned how to turn them off my news feed, I am slowly ridding myself of these time wasters.   Still I am always tempted by a good prize.  D posts.
  • Random "what am I doing, thinking" posts.  These generally are worthless.  I am always amused though when they provoke comments from others.  You just never know what's going to hit a hot button.  While these are not necessarily great uses of my time, I no longer feel I have to type something everyday, every hour.   The potential amusement value as a researcher is good enough to continue them at a low level.  So I give these a C.
  • Political posts.  I don't do them and I seldom read those of others.  I can do without them because I seldom find them enlightening or fair to the candidates.  Not worth my time.
  • Religious posts.  These fall in the same camp as political posts.   I'm in the camp that throughout the centuries as much harm as help has probably been done in the name of religion.   So I generally don't read these.  Also not worth my time.
  • Picture posting and reviewing.  Well this one is tough.  It probably is a time waster but it is just sooo handy.  My issue is I post on Facebook and I post on Shutterfly.     Having recently taken about a million pictures while on vacation, I've become painfully aware that too much time can be wasted loading pics that most friends will probably not look at.    As far as me looking at others' photos, I think I self-edit.  I like seeing former co-workers' proud mama new baby pictures and a few travel pics keep me up-to-date on others' exciting lives.   The occasional picture post of something odd and funny my friend David sees on his international travels keeps me entertained like a funny TV show.   So overall, in small doses, picture posting/reviewing can be valuable and entertaining.  I give them a B rating.
  • "Linking" posts.  These are deadly.  And sometimes very funny.  But mostly deadly.  I do them myself despite this belief.  Why?  Well they tell people what I am interested in:  the Twins, the occasional food/diet story, my volunteering pursuits, the Derby.     Sometimes I just want to get the word out on something.  But do they get read?  Probably not by many.  So my links can definitely be scaled back.  Anyone who wants to know about the Twins can read the paper.  What of other's posts?  Well, I mostly ignore them but I do like to see the occasional video of someones kid performing and there are some hilarious YouTube videos that pop up.    So, as with photos, I mostly need to moderate my own posting behavior.  Another B rating.  
  • Everything else.  I'm not sure what I've missed, but that tells me everything else is probably a waste of time.  So let's just give them an F and promise not to do them anymore.
So net conclusion:  Enough above average time spent that I'm staying on Facebook.  Besides,  I'm retired.  Who cares?


  1. I love this blog post, Jackie! So right on! I would add "inspirational" posts, which every once in a while strike a chord with me. (Probably B- overall, but a few are A's.). FYI...I miss your blogging about the Twins. They are so pathetic, I'd rather hear your analysis of the crowd or what you ate. My other tip (or something I've policed myself with) is when I post an album of pics (vacation, an event where I can tag other people, etc.), I try to keep it under 25 pics. Not sure of people can scroll through much more than that...I also decided to be a "contributor" after getting to know Heather M. (vs. just a "watcher/stalker") and I'm so glad you are a contributor too.

    1. 25 pics is a good limit and a good idea. I will steal it.

      The Twins were almost always horrible weren't they? I just couldn't sustain the blog with such negative thoughts. Perhaps next year I can resurrect it with renewed enthusiasm.

      Thanks for commenting!