Today I did the unthinkable: I used the new Facebook gadgets to “subscribe” to Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and former New York Times Editor Bill Keller.
“Subscribing” is a new function on Facebook. It allows users to view the Facebook updates of others without actually being their Facebook “friend.” It’s kind of like “following” a person on Twitter.
I call this unthinkable because…well, I don’t usually do that sort of thing.
In my former life at the Charlotte Observer, I was frequently the butt of jokes because of my blissful ignorance of all things pop culture. (I once admitted in an open meeting that I didn’t know who Angelina Jolie was.) Indeed, you’ll never catch me watching “Inside Edition” or the “Housewives” of anything.
So why am I following the Facebook posts of Newton and Keller?
Because, I suspect, the creative minds behind Facebook have cleverly devised a way to keep us all preoccupied with absolutely nothing.
As casual fans go, I like Newton just fine. I want to see
him develop into a first-rate NFL quarterback, but I’m certainly not obsessed
with his performance or his personal life. And as for Keller, he and I were
reporters together in South Africa back in the early 1990s and I’ve long
admired his work, but again…no extraordinary fascination.
I’m certainly not alone in either case. When last I checked, 3,548 people had signed up to follow Newton on Facebook, and 917 had subscribed to Keller. (Nobody had subscribed to me.)
What does it say about us as individuals or as a society that we are so eager to connect with strangers…people who have no real influence on our lives, our health, our families or our wealth? Is it simple curiosity? A growing addiction to social media?
I think I’ll spend some time pondering those questions…as soon as I get back to Facebook and connect with Angelina Jolie.
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