Bonnie Bing

Internet no substitute for personal contact

No doubt about it, I deserve a big fat "F" when it comes to being a good Facebooker. My co-worker Denise Neil, who understands the allure of Facebook, Twitter and everything Internet, says I am the worst person she knows when it comes to social media networking. And when I explain loudly that I don't care what so and so had for lunch or what they've been doing on a rainy Sunday, she says that lame excuse is no longer valid.

I can't help it. I like people to talk to me verbally and I like to talk to them and I like to listen to them and for them to listen to me. Also, and this is important, I like to know exactly who it is I am talking to and hearing from.

First of all, I'm a bit technologically challenged. Even though I'm better than I used to be, I'm far from understanding what seems to come naturally to people decades younger.

Twice I thought I was just "talking" to one person on Facebook, but my message was sent to all of my "friends."

Facebook is bad enough, but what really sends me around the bend is trying to book airline reservations online. That, it seems, is usually a complete exercise in futility.

After spending nearly an hour trying to make reservations for three people with different departure times, two different destinations and a side trip for two of the people, I gave up and called Delta. After waiting on hold for awhile I was connected with an agent. A live, competent, nice woman named Sally.

She understood what I was trying to do. We had some laughs, and after an hour, the very patient Sally said, "There, you're all taken care of." I wanted to weep with joy.

She assured me no one could have done all that online. "I had seven screens open," she said with a laugh.

The Internet is supposed to be convenient, but I like Sally better.

And I know Facebook is supposed to be valuable and I continue to hear about successful campaigns launched on Facebook.

Betty White was a host on "Saturday Night Live" because so many people went on Facebook and requested her.

A transplant patient in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, got a kidney when his son put a request on Facebook. A kidney!

And then there's the kid who wasn't going to be allowed to go to prom after he put a banner on the side of the school building asking for a date. But after a landslide of Facebook comments supporting him, the principal caved in and the student got to go.

Probably the biggest plus is you can sometimes find someone you've not been in contact with for years.

But once I know where they are and how they're doing I don't need to be in constant contact. Personally, I'd rather get to know Delta's Sally who has seven screens and can make all my problems go away.

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