006I was late to the social networking party.  It wasn’t because I was wary of technology.  My husband forked out $2000 for an Apple computer in 1982 that did not even have a hard drive.  Pre-children, we spent hours on that computer fighting monsters and completing quests on the role playing games available at the time.  Sometimes we even used it for finances and business.  Much like the game consoles of today, we traded up each time a new incarnation came on the market.   I had email long before most of my peers.  My brother had moved to Saudi Arabia and after a year of extremely high telephone bills, I knew there had to be a better way.  There was:  email.  So you might say that technology for me needed to be either entertaining or useful.

When MySpace first came on the scene, I created an account…That is about it.  No one I knew was on MySpace other than the friends of my children and at that point, they were too cool for parents.  So my MySpace account languished.  When my kids switched to Facebook, I assumed it would be much like MySpace and ignored the phenomenon.  It took my oldest daughter moving to France after accepting a teaching position to get me into the social networking world.  I created my Facebook account out of fear.  My daughter was going to a foreign country where she knew no one, speaking her academic form of French and living with a woman she had never met.  So neurosis drove me to Facebook.  I knew that if she posted every day she was still alive.

Within hours of creating my account I was deluged with friend requests.  I knew most of them and learned to decline the creepy stalkers.  I added people who I had gone to high school and college with and had not seen for over twenty years.  It was like an online reunion.  I joined groups that reflected my social and political interests.  My news feed grew like kudzu.  Then came the elections of 2010.  The vitriol was high, but I was in my element.  Coming from a family of eight where political discussions dominated the dinner table, I thrived on political discourse.  I became that person who clogs up your news feed.  I shared articles from all of the major news outlets and the minor ones as well.  I remembered why some of my high school classmates and I did not get along with each other 35 years ago as we unfriended each other over political views.  I spent hours reading Facebook posts and articles.  I debated people online.  Then I started getting comments from my children…”um, Mom…I think you may be just a little bit over the top.”  I discounted their comments.  Children are supposed to be embarrassed by their parents…right?  There was no major event that led me to the realization that I was addicted to Facebook.  After the elections of 2012, I just slacked off because of the decrease in political interest.  That gave me a little more perspective.  I still share political stories and cartoons.  I am just a little more circumspect about it.  I still check Facebook every day, but I no longer lose myself in the medium.  I kicked that addiction without the 12 Step Facebook program.   Now I use Facebook for the most part the way I originally intended:  to keep track of my children and other relatives who are scattered all over the world.  Then my daughter persuaded me to create a Twitter account…

How do you use social networking?

– Mary Skelton

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High school teacher. Soccer fan (Werder Bremen, yeah!). Knitter and book-binder. Devotee of mathematical puzzles. German.