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Column - Seven reasons why Facebook leaves me cold

There is one reason why I like Facebook but at least seven reasons why I do not.

At least twice a week, such invitations pop up on my e-mail inbox. Sometimes I have no clue who the person is. Mostly, though, the invitations are from friends, relatives and acquaintances - many of them from the distant past. It's good to hear how those people, their kids and grandkids are doing, and it's always fun to see their photos. Some of them I have not seen or heard from in years. So much so that I wondered if some of them were still among the living. It's also fun to exchange pleasantries, wise cracks and old "in" jokes with those good people.

However, that said, here are seven reasons why I shy away from most Facebook invitations:

1. I don't have time to fritter away so many hours keeping up with the detailed lives of others. I'm semi-retired, working half-time. How do diehard Facebookers who work eight-hour days and who have busy, bustling families find the time to dedicate to texting and photos on multiple Facebooks? Do they skip work? Do they pretend to work in the office when, in fact, they're spending most of their time Facebooking?

2. Facebook, so I've heard anyway, is a sneaky little ruse to get information on people so advertisers can fine-tune pitches for their products to those people, based on their personalties and buying habits.

3. After awhile, on certain Facebooks, I feel as if I'm drowning in an ocean of inconsequential trivia, especially when people detail such mundane matters as the kind of dinner they ate yesterday. I don't care, especially if the dinner was uninteresting, like meatloaf and potatoes.

4. I don't want more and more friends. It is very difficult and time-consuming to keep up with the limited number of friends I do have, much less any new ones I may meet via Facebook. Someday, if and when I retire fully, it would be fun to travel the country, visiting friends I haven't seen in so many years. I know people older than me who do just that. Such in-person visits would be far more exciting than "virtual" Facebook visits.

5. We spend entirely too much of our lives in front of a computer screen. I myself sometimes spend up to 10 hours, some days, writing on my computer for my job. I love my job, but after too much computer absorption I cannot wait to get away from cyberspace into the great wide-open spaces of the real world.

6. With all of the flickering communication cross-currents that occur constantly on Facebook pages, how do I know a killer virus won't attack my computer as soon as I open up some item or another on a Facebook page? I'm leery of opening Facebook pages even from people I know because about two months ago, my computer went haywire shortly after I opened a Facebook page.

7. To this day, I miss getting real letters in the mail. In the "good old days" of letter-writing, friends would take their time to organize their thoughts and feelings and then put them into words on a page of paper. There was a thoughtfulness and a precision of phrasing in those letters, sent in stamped envelopes for days across long distances. I tend to avoid Facebook because it is like a crude intruder who has robbed most of us of the long-forgotten pleasures of real letters. Texting, on phones and computers, just doesn't cut it. I suppose, however, I should be at least partly grateful for Facebook, because there are some people I know who would rather face a firing squad than have to sit down and write a "real" letter. And yet those same epistolary-phobics can sit down for hours and rattle off computerized "text" messages. I don't get it.

I hope my Facebook friends will forgive me for being such a spoilsport. It would be nice if some of them would drop their Facebook obsessions, for awhile anyway, and write me a real letter one of these days.

Dennis Dalman, a former reporter for the Echo Press, is a regular contributing columnist to the Opinion page. He is currently the editor of the St. Joseph Newsleader. He can be reached via e-mail at