Janet Sheridan: Fossils don't use Facebook

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Janet Sheridan

I sat in the top row of an arena during the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament, baffled by the timeout behavior of the crowd.

When action on the court stopped, fans occupied themselves by visiting the Internet or sending texts on cell phones that glowed like fireflies throughout the stadium.

Why weren’t they stretching, mugging for TV or talking to one another?

A few weeks ago, a talkative lady in a checkout line informed her captive audience — me — that she had 173 friends on Facebook. I stopped myself before I asked why.

If I sound scornful, it’s my ineptness speaking. It’s not fun being a fossil.

I use the Internet for research.

Yesterday, I found a recipe calling for the buttermilk, broccoli and leftover chicken languishing in my fridge.

Later, remembering a teenage crush, I searched Gorgeous George and enjoyed photographs of my favorite wrestler with his long, blonde curls and the valet who sprayed him with Chanel No. 10 before each match.

I also spend time every day reading and responding to my e-mail. I enjoy the unexpected entertainment it provides when I receive messages assuring me I can regrow my hair, consolidate my debt, bring back the time when girls were mine, obtain discounted drugs and increase my virility.

But I don’t text; nor do I twitter; and social networks like Classmate, Plaxo, Desktop Dating and Facebook baffle me.

Classmate is a site for those who sometimes entertain idle thoughts like one I had this morning: “I wonder what became of that freshman, Donny Hickman, who was always whispering to his wooden puppet, Herman.”

With the help of Classmate, I could find out.

My husband succumbed to the site when notified it had 188 registrants from his high school. After joining, he received a message: “You’re popular, Joel. Three people signed your guest book today.” Seemed like a liberal definition of popular to me.

One of the questions on Classmate’s entry form stumped me: “What kind of person were you in high school: bully, clown, gossip, jock, loner, misfit, nerd, party animal, troublemaker?”

I couldn’t see a category for someone who mostly got along and did well — despite having only one Jantzen sweater and an occasional bout of acne.

So, I didn’t join.

Next came the Plaxo hubbub. My siblings and I received e-mail notification that my older brother, Bob, had invited the rest of us to join him on Plaxo.

We all like Bob. We forgave him long ago for sneaking into the basement and eating all the fruit cocktail Mom bottled as a special treat.

So, we signed up.

When we received no further messages, we called one another, asking, “What is Plaxo, anyway? Sounds vaguely dental, doesn’t it? Is Bob losing it?”

Finally, we went to the source. Blaine called Bob: “What the hell is Plaxo and why did you want us on it?”

“Heck, Blainer, I don’t know. I didn’t join anything.”

Right. He lied about the fruit cocktail, too.

Yesterday, I received an invitation to join Desktop Dating. My fingers stumbled in their rush to delete. The invitation came from my brother, Lawrence, a 77-year-old, married, great-grandfather.

What’s happening to my family?

Many of my friends belong to Facebook, and Joel and I share a page. He created it and posted only my picture, which I’ll never understand. He has no idea how to manage his creation, but we’re on our way.

We already have 16 friends.

I know. I know. For Facebook, that’s pitiful.

We’ll try to do better — as soon as we run out of things to talk about.

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