Facebook is 10 and I have lots of Friends

FacebookFacebook turned 10 years old this week. In celebration, they provided a look back video for all Facebook users that wanted one. Here’s a link to mind if you’re interested in seeing it.

The bigger story to me, is how Facebook has been a catalyst for the creation of new relationships. Anyone that uses Facebook knows that when you hook up with someone on Facebook you have “friended” them on Facebook. Currently I have 1468 friends on Facebook. I don’t say that to brag or to boast or for any other reason but to say that I have all of these “relationships”. It causes me to reflect on what the meaning of “friend” is now that we have Social Media.

FacebookLikeWhen I was in high school in the 1970s I moved three different times and went to three different high schools. I didn’t have an opportunity to make what I would call “long term” friendships. But, in each of my three high schools (Charles M Russell in Great Falls,  MT; Bozeeman Senior in Bozeman, MT; and Murray High in Murray, Utah), I was able to garner some good friendships. I was always an anti-clique friend to many, taking pride in the fact that I was able to cross numerous thresholds to become friends with members of the band, athletes and members of other groups and clubs in school. Nevertheless, each of my friends typically had something in common with me whether it was being a band member, or a cross-country team member, or a member of the journalism club, we always had something in common.

FriendsCurrently I really have very few relationships with individuals from my first two high schools in Great Falls and Bozeman, but I have a lot of good relationships with many from my Murray high school days. I’m not sure what the difference was since I spent the same amount of time at each school, but perhaps it was that I graduated from Murray High and that I joined the LDS (Mormon) church in Murray that many of my friends, most of whom were Mormons, probably deepened the relationships that I had. To this day some of them are still very close friends.

David and friends

David hanging with Brett and Scott in 1976

Back then our main means of communication was meeting and doing things together and talking on the phone. Very few of us wrote letters, and indeed, I was not a very good letter writer either. When I went to Japan to serve as a missionary for the LDS church, I did write a lot of letters and receive a lot of letters but most of them were from family members and not my friends. When I returned home in 1978, I once again hooked up with friends and we would go to movies, rock concerts and out to eat and other things that young twentysomethings did back then.

Writing Letters home in 1977

Writing Letters home in 1977

With the birth of America Online and appearance of email, the opportunity to hook up with friends via electronic communication became appealing to many of us. It was easier to start catching up with people and doing it via email. And, of course, in those days, we’re talking the 1990s, email was hip.

GotMailBut then about 10 years ago this new Internet thing called Facebook was born. It was the birth of social networking as we know it today. Initially it was college students and high school kids that caught on and started using Facebook. Adults like me, then in my 40s, just didn’t get it yet. But, responsible parents started checking in on their children’s Internet activities which included Facebook. We then wondered about ourselves participating in Facebook. At the same time, there were other groups trying to do the same thing. MySpace was born, and MySpace ended up being for musicians and it still is out there but nothing like Facebook. Others tried as well, but Facebook always seem to be the one to get the thumbs up from everyone.

MySpaceSo, on June 12, 2007 I joined Facebook (as you can see from my video).  I didn’t really begin posting much until around December of that year when my son Seth got married and I began using it as a photo news site.  Since that time I have posted 1000s of photos on Facebook, including 100s of “selfies” that I have taken from my road trips.  Many photos are with my friends.

Sumoflam with friend Antsy McClain

Sumoflam with friend Antsy McClain – 2013

More importantly though, Facebook has seemingly brought about a new definition of “friend.” A search on Google defines friend as “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.” My definition of friend is close “a person with a common interest and one with a mutual affectionate relationship.” By affectionate I am not referring to the Touchy Feely kind of affection, but rather a relationship where you see someone or do something with them quite often. But, ironically, for many, some Facebook “friends” may be actually be people we have never met in person. Can you really become a friend with someone you have never met? That is the real gist of this post.

NoStrangersWell, much like my days in high school where I had friends across different spectrums of groups and organizations, I believe that I have been able to do the same thing through social networking whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Google+ or other forms of social networking. Indeed, I have what I would call different layers of friends on Facebook and these other social networks.

FriendPyramidTo be sure, I have a plethora of “friends” from all walks of life….Mormons, Catholics, Jews, Gays, Atheists, Right Wing Tea Party activists and left-leaning politocos, athletes, musicians, artists, photographers, vegans, food junkies, videographers, sports writers, authors, publishers, movie producers, truck drivers, computer nerds.

GoodFriendsNot counting my family “friends” on Facebook, perhaps my first and biggest layer of friends are those individuals with whom I have day to day and/or week to week interpersonal relationships, whether they be through business, church, or other activities that I participate in at this point. These are people that I physically know, that I have seen, that I have shaken hands with or given a hug to.  They may be work associates or friends from booster clubs and other organizations. These are my “close friends.”  I can recall letting work associates that, in many respects, we were like family.  They may have scoffed, but, in reality, we have forged relationships that go deeper than the job.

A "selfie" with my former work colleague and continued friend Colin

A “selfie” with my former work colleague and continued Facebook friend Colin

Visiting with my friend Keith in Idaho.  We served an LDS mission together in Japan and are now Facebook friends nearly 40 years later

Visiting with my friend Keith in Idaho. We served an LDS mission together in Japan and are now Facebook friends nearly 40 years later

Visiting with my friend Froilan from Cebu, Philippines.  We worked together in from 2005-2007 and visited with each other in Lexington in 2013. We are still Facebook friends

Visiting with my friend Froilan from Cebu, Philippines. We worked together in from 2005-2007 and visited with each other in Lexington in 2013. We are still Facebook friends

The next layer is what I would call my “long lost friends.” Hereafter,  I may use first names of many of these individuals, and these will be their real first names. Let’s take Sue for instance. I first met Sue in person in 1973 in Bozeman, MT. She was with her family visiting from New Jersey for a large Airstream Rally. I hung around with Sue and her sister and her family for the few days that they were in town because I was doing a article about the Airstream rally for my high school paper. After they left, we did not have any communication per se. But in 1975, I joined the LDS (Mormon) church and a year later left for my mission to Japan. After I returned from my mission in 1978, I moved to Provo, UT and, on my first weekend in church in Provo, lo and behold, I ran into Sue. It was obviously a shock to her as well because, at the time I met her in Bozeman, I knew nothing about the Mormon church. But she and her family had told me a lot about it because they were very devout members. Needless to say, she had a profound impact on my life and she didn’t even know it. After many years of searching, I finally found her and contacted her via Facebook, in a private message. And we have since become Facebook “friends.” Like me, she has since been married, had children and even had grandchildren. Today we rarely, if at all, communicate, even through Facebook. But Facebook offered us both something that other friendship opportunities may not offer. We get to be a “fly on the wall” of our friends and keep up with them, even when they don’t know it. That is, the opportunity to “lurk” on someone else’s life via their Facebook page.

FlyOnWallLurkingNo the word lurk is an unusual word. In computerese it basically means “to read or observe an ongoing discussion without participating in it.” In the past it seems to have referred to something a little bit on the shady side, something that was a bit secretive. But for a site like Facebook many friends do their lurking via the now well known “News Feed.”

NewsfeedI have a lot of “friends” and not a lot of time to read all of their posts.  So, occasionally I “drop in” on them and see what is going on.  If I like a post or a photo I will add a thumbs up so that they know I had dropped in.  I see many of those as well from “lurkers’ to my Facebook page.

ThumbsUpBack to my friends….  Indeed, I have rekindled friendships from the past such as with Pat and Sam from Bozeman, Maggie and Penny from Salt Lake, John and JP from Cebu, Gerhard (from Germany but now lives in Singapore) and Mark (from Lexington but now in Singapore), friends from Japan, Puerto Rico, China, Ireland, Australia and more.  It is fun to keep up with all of them.

Social Media Friends

Social Media Friends

I then have that thick layer…general acquaintances…friends of my children, people I have met along the way like Samantha and Lindsey from Camp 31 BBQ in Paris, Ontario or Lori from the March Madness Marching Band in Lexington (after I shared dozens of photos from parades in Lexington) high school coaches I met through an employer, people that want to share a part of their lives.

AcquaintancesThen comes the most interesting layer of all…the “Social Media” friends.  These are people I have met online or have become acquainted with through other common friends or interests.  Some of them I eventually met, like my friend Mari, a struggling author in Lexington; Dan, a Lexington photographer; or Ione from California (another Trailer Park Troubadours fan whom I met on a Troubs’ cruise).  Others I have become good friends with and communicate with at least weekly, such as Ed in California (who came to me through Antsy McClain and has since discovered our myriad joint interests), Michael from Georgetown, TX (another Troubs fan) or Tui from Dallas who writes a travel blog about quirky places and is currently publishing a book or even Doug (from Somewhereville, USA) who runs the Roadside America website.  And there are dozens more that have “friended” me for one reason or another.

The World is Smaller

The World is Smaller

So, on the week of Facebook’s 10th birthday, we can thank Mark Zuckerburg and his friends for their ingenious way of making the world smaller and having (in general) a profoundly positive impact on the world.  I know that Facebook (and my other Social Media sites) have really provided me with a richer outlook on life and the world I live in.

And to thank you for being a friend I am going to use one of my favorite musicians from 40 years ago – Andrew Gold

facebookThumbs

The Internet and Me on the 30th Birthday of the Mac

Apple Logo 1984

Apple Logo 1984

Today is the 30th birthday of the Mac computer.  When it first came out in 1984, I was a senior in college in  Flagstaff, AZ. Little did any of us truly understand where we would be 30 years later with computers, the internet and mobile devices.

Indeed, 1984 was NOT like George Orwell’s 1984.

As I write this today in 2014, the computers and the Internet have become major factors in my life and the life of millions of others in the world (but I am still using a PC at home….can’t afford a Mac….). But I can recall when it wasn’t always that way. Indeed, I can recall when there was no such thing as the Internet. There was no such thing as networked computers either.  Even before I knew much about it, there was already some discussion.  Here is a news video from 1981 (from wimp.com) about what would later become known as the World Wide Web….

My first real interaction with computers didn’t occur until1986 when I was working on my Masters Thesis at Arizona State University. I was connected to a large mainframe (which had less memory than my iPhone today) and wasusing a black screen with colored text and using a program called WordStar which was only attached through the network.  I had to save everything to the network.

WordStar Screen

WordStar Screen

In the midst of my work on it, the first portable computers started arriving at the school. I can remember when a Compaq portable computer arrived at our computer lab. iI was kind of bulky, but it was portable nonetheless. Back in those days, we had to use DOS commands to move around and do things. With the new Compaq computers, we were able to save our content on a floppy disk. It was one of those real floppy disks…they were big, about 7 inches, and floppy.

Compaq portable computer

Compaq portable computer ca 1985

A 7" Floppy Disk that we used to save data on the Compaqs and other machines

A 7″ Floppy Disk that we used to save data on the Compaqs and other machines

This certainly revolutionized how school papers were written, for we no longer needed to use a typewriter (such as the IBM Selectric shown below) with auto correct on it, I could use a computer and never have to print anything out until I was ready. Boy was that cool back then! (As a side note, I never dreamed at that time that I would eventually work at Lexmark in the 1990s, which was born out of the IBM Selectric group!!)

IBM Selectric II

IBM Selectric II

By 1987 I was on my way to Japan to work for the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET Programme).  When I got there, they were still not using computers, but they did have a couple of “WaPro – short for WordProcessors” with convoluted keyboards. for all the Japanese characters. By the time I left in 1991, the “Internet” was available, but it was more like a bulletin board and I had to go to the local Nikkei Shinbun (Japanese version of Wall Street Journal) office in order to search anything. Looking back I can certainly see that it was a precursor to the Internet.

A Toshiba NWS-800 1987 "WaPro" as I saw them

A Toshiba NWS-800 1987 “WaPro” as I saw them

My first real experience with the Internet came when I got a membership to America Online (now known as AOL). (See AOL today) Yes, those people that were around in the 1990s probably remember seeing America Online floppy disks and CDs everywhere in every store and everywhere you went. (I wonder if anyone has kept one as a souvenir??) Seems like at that time everybody became an AOL member and they were able to send email back-and-forth to each other. We were starting to see online apps available and the Internet started to come of age.

AOL Logo circa 1990s

AOL Logo circa 1990s

AOL Floppy - 50 hours for free

AOL Floppy – 50 hours for free

AOL CD 100 Hours free

AOL CD 100 Hours free

Of course, we didn’t have high speed connections back then either.  We paid a high premium to the telephone company to get a 56K modem to hook to the telephone line.  When we were online, we couldn’t receive calls. Initially they were boxes we plugged in, but eventually you could get one added into a slot in the computer and then plugged the telephone line into it.

56K Modem Box

56K Modem Box

56K modem card for plugging into computer

56K modem card for plugging into computer

I can remember how cool it was looking up information on a browser through AOL. I even use the Internet for the first time in the 1990s to plan a trip when we had Barbara from France staying with us. Not everyplace was on the Internet at that time, but I was able to get maps and able to find some information about some places.

AOL Screen 1993

AOL Screen 1993

Windows developed Internet Explorer and a company named Netscape soon provided an alternative to the AOL browser. And search engines were born as well. Back then, before Google, there was AltaVista, which made searching for things on the youthful internet so much easier. I remember using it when I worked for Green Gates Farm as their office manager. Keeneland had just gotten their website up and running at that time. And we were able to look at the schedules and some of the other things. But Internet browsing was still a bit sketchy and things would go down.

AltaVista Search Engine ca. 1999

AltaVista Search Engine ca. 1999

By the late 1990s I was working as a contractor at Toyota and I experienced my first job working as a computer tech. I was originally hired to manage the printer configurations for Toyota’s Japanese printers, due in part to my work at Green Gates where I had to learn to configure our Lexmark printer to work with an HP Printer Driver (once again, at that time I had no idea that I would eventually end up at Lexmark!!). I soon started learning networking and at the same time the Internet started getting more and more capable. Internet Explorer had became the main browser as Windows grew. By this time AltaVista had been purchased by Yahoo!. Google wasn’t even really much of an entity at that time, though it had been created in 1998.

Despite all of this growth, it seems to me that the main use of the Internet at that time was still being able to email back-and-forth. AOL was still a big thing and everybody loved to hear that “you’ve got mail” whenever they would check their mail.

Since then, the Internet has blossomed.  It is everywhere.  We have mobile devices that access the internet.  I eventually worked at Lexmark, which was borne out of IBM.  I was basically working on the forefront of InkJet printer technology, which boomed in the 1990s but has since faded away.  Lexmark no longer manufactures inkjets and there are only a few companies that do.

Lexmark Inkjet - I actually oversaw the Software testing for this printer

Lexmark Inkjet – I actually oversaw the Software testing for this printer

Today Yahoo! still thrives, but is no longer the “big guy” out there.  That is now Google…indeed, the world seems to have become a GooglePlex….

YahooGoogleAnd of course, what of the 30 year old Mac? Apple is one of the biggest companies in the world and from the invention of iPods (for music) to mobile phones and now “mobile devices” such as an iPhone and an iPad, Apple too has come on its own.  I have a Dell laptop with Windows, but also have my own iPad and iPhone and can’t live without them….

Apple iPad

Apple iPad

Apple iPhone 5s with Internet Screens showing

Apple iPhone 5s with Internet Screens showing

We have come a long way in 30 years!!

David in 1984 at NAU Graduation

David in 1984 at NAU Graduation

David at Lexmark office after losing a bet on a high school football game

David at Lexmark office after losing a bet on a high school football game

David 2014 - Grandfather of nine and photo taken with mobile device and posted to the internet without a modem!

David 2014 – Grandfather of nine and photo taken with mobile device and posted to the internet without a modem!

Today, I work as a WordPress specialist and an internet Broadcast specialist.  I write three blogs.  I worked for a DotCom company (iHigh.com) for four years. I worked for a Printer Company.  I have done Network support. I have worked in a call center providing technical support for Mac users and iPhone users. Indeed, I eat, drink and sleep with the internet and derive 100% of my income from internet related work.  Its amazing what a History degree and Political Science Master’s degree will get you.  I never imagined I would be where I am today….but I am still a geek!!

Apple Logo 2014

Apple Logo 2014