Writer’s Block: Facebook For All

By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
editor@portisabelsouthpadre.com

I think it’s true that many of us are pretty active on social media. From the original social network — Facebook — to Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, we all find ways to stay connected.

It’s been 12 years since Mark Zuckerburg created Facebook in his Harvard dorm room. Back in 2004, I was in college myself and became an early adopter of the nascent social media platform soon after it arrived at my university as “TheFacebook.com.” Back then, you needed an email address that ended in “.edu” in order to sign up; those can only be found at institutions of higher learning. Early Facebook had established a barrier to entry: no kids and no ‘olds,’ as has become the vernacular that refers to anyone over the age of 25.

In 2004, people still accessed the internet via desktop or laptop computers. The first smartphone, Apple’s iPhone, was still three years away and wouldn’t hit consumers’ hands until June 2007. But, the iPhone’s release soon served as the catalyst that forever changed how we accessed the internet. Soon, it wasn’t just tech-savvy wizards who were customizing their MySpace profiles and checking out their friends’ pages on Facebook, it was anyone who could grok a touchscreen.

That led to an explosion of social media platforms as software developers (now called app developers) rushed to cash in on the burgeoning market. But still, social media was largely seen as the demesne of the young — of teens and young 20-somethings who had the time and attention for the latest shiny tech novelty.

Twitter came on the scene, offering consumers a way to communicate in bite-sized 140 character chunks. Twitter and Facebook have long battled for social media supremacy. And while the former has become a trusted way for people to share breaking news in tumultuous situations (the Arab Spring and the Ferguson protests come to mind), Facebook simply has far more eyes at its disposal, with some 1.71 billion active users a month.

Instagram soon came on the scene, making it easy for everyone to share their vacation photos, or more often than not, photos of their dinner, with friends and strangers across the globe. It was soon gobbled up by Facebook in a $300 million acquisition.

It’s been 12 years and change since Zuckerburg created Facebook, and though tech headlines periodically read that it’s soon doomed to failure or obsolescence, it remains. No longer is it just a place for the young. Now, business professionals, businesses, artists, musicians, actors, and your uncle who lives in the Midwest are all on Facebook, too. And now there’s one more new member of the club: my dad.

My dad had half heartedly asked questions about Facebook in the past, but I have to admit, I counseled him against joining the social media platform, mostly out of concern about possible identity liabilities. We all know someone who has clicked on a bad link and gotten some malware. But, after hearing secondhand Facebook post recaps about faraway family members from his kids, Dad wanted to be able to reconnect himself.

So, a few weeks ago, he asked my brother and I to set up an account for him. He hasn’t stopped posting since! In just a short amount of time, he has posted about family dinners, changing the decor of his and my mom’s house now that fall has arrived, and received numerous birthday well-wishes. He’s more active now than I am! And he’s a pro, too. He’s not afraid to crack a sarcastic joke capped off with an appropriate emoji. My dad, the social media guru. Who knew? Welcome, Dad! I accept your friend request. 🙂

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