The Wonders of Facebook

Do you FB? If you're in the loop, you know that means: Do you use Facebook? Recent Facebook statistics report that the popular social networking site has seen a phenomenal increase of older users. Generally we assume internet social media like Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter appeal to a very young techie audience. However, from January to July 2009, Facebook has seen a 513% growth of users age 55 and over. An increase of less than 5% was reported for users ages 18-25 for the same time period.

So it seems that baby boomers represent a significant demographic on Facebook. Frequently, boomers discover FB via their children or grandchildren who hook them up to the site. For some of us, there's a brief learning curve to master the FB tools. But after a stint of shy mingling among the Facebook blockparty, we soon discover that there's a whole new world open to us. Facebook is a cool way to keep in touch with people. Granted, some of it involves boring babble, ridiculous games and social nitwits but so does real life. The beauty of Facebook is you don't have to respond and you can easily blow off the annoying idiots and arrogant jerks. Negative stuff aside, for the most part, Facebook is a fun communications tool. You can link up with long lost friends, former classmates, ex boyfriends/girlfriends, a host of extended family members and even form new acquaintances. Best of all, it provides a fascinating diversion for those of us who have nothing else going on in our wearisome lives.

My guess is that baby boomers are swelling the ranks of Facebook mainly because we are just downright curious about people from our past lives. What have our long lost college and high school pals been up to over the last 40 years? And for me, therein lies the dilemma. Do I really want to learn that most of my old buddies have led extraordinary and scintillating lives that put my tedious, humdrum existence to shame? Do I really want to compare my abject past with overachievers who put the E in Excitement; the S in Success, the MM in Megamillionaire?

Pitifully, the answer is YES. I am a glutton for ridicule and humiliation. And so it is that I've clicked on become friends with several old high school and college classmates, former neighbors and an oddball assortment of people I've known in a former life. As I peruse their Facebook Walls, their Info pages their Photos and their Comments, I am able to glean tidbits of their thrilling lives. Just as I suspected, I am a dithering old dud compared to most of them. One gal was a rocket scientist. Others are or were acclaimed surgeons, financial barons, shrewd entrepreneurs, erudite professors, dedicated environmentalists, renown authors and overall selfless human beings. Although many of my old pals are retired, that doesn't stop them from pursuing new and exotic adventures. One gal just returned from exploring Machu Picchu. Many old mates have hiked down into the Grand Canyon and back up again. A number of them have scaled icy mountains, sky dived out of tiny airplanes, paddled down the Amazon, zip-lined across rainforests, sailed oceans. I can't tell you how many friends of mine---in their late 50s and 60s have run and completed marathons. It's become an epidemic. A couple of folks have even raced in wheelchairs.

Frankly, I find all this overachieving extremely admirable. I laud my old pals for their brilliance, courage and endurance. What truly galls me, however, is that they all still look really, really good....attractive, youthful; vibrant. Dare I say sexy? Physically fit, nary an ounce of fat protrudes from their treadmill trim bodies. Lean, mean and oozing with energy, my old pals still look marvelous. Their photos don't lie. Or do they?

I'm happy to discover my old friends have lived exemplary and edifying lives. But I probably would feel out of their league if we ever reconnected again in person. So for what it's worth, I wish them well and wonder if it's time yet for Dancing With the Stars?

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