I hope former President Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson doesn't think I'm stalking him since last week's post about his e-mail auto-reply.
There are many motives, of course, for sharing personal information on social media. Most people, I suspect, are networking. I was considering these issues recently while updating my own, nearly friendless Facebook page. Progress sweeps even skeptics before it. But who could possibly care that I listen to Iron & Wine or recommend the movie "The Passion of Joan of Arc."
Well, I'm a Facebook friend of Gerson's—one of 300-ish as of the publication of his column Sunday.
His Facebook updates are a mix of flat pronouncements …
GWB and Bill Clinton will make a very good team.
Michel Martin of "Tell Me More" on NPR is a very fine interviewer — informed, direct, serious.
2009. Glad to see the back of it.
… and the very kinds of personal details he wonders why his fellow Facebookers share, like …
Whole family sitting down to watch premier of House — the best show on TV.
Attending U2 concert in Chicago tonight.
can now say something I never thought I would say: I have a dog. A little Havanese.
"I suspect," Gerson writes in his column, "that some Internet exhibitionists are simply lonely. They want the details of their lives—no matter how trivial, troubling or shocking—to matter and count to someone. Of course, those details do matter and count, as all lives matter and count. But if loneliness is the motive, it is not likely to be relieved before a computer screen."
I'm starting to think people who are confused about Facebook are confused about how they see themselves in relation to their fellow human beings.
Are we all equals, involved in sharing our ideas and jokes and feelings and cute baby pictures with a circle of friends and admirers? Or are some of us Important Columnists and others just Lonely Exhibitionists?
As for Gerson, I bet he feels important sometimes, and lonely other times.
Like the rest of us, if we're lucky.
But honestly, who cares about one more Baby Boomer expressing his angst and ambivalence about Facebook, right?
Well some people must care.
Three days after his column came out, Gerson is up to 505 Facebook friends.