This is me and my dad.
My dad has an extraordinary aptitude for making friends in the most unlikely of situations.
A few years ago, on the terrace of São Jorge Castle in Lisbon, he got chatting to another tourist. Within minutes he had discovered that this man knew Dad’s family from way back, and was able to tell him the name of someone who knew the village in Lithuania from which my father’s ancestors originated.
My dad had been trying to find this all his life, without success. One chance encounter and the mystery was solved.
On a more mundane level, my dad managed to get so friendly with someone recently, while waiting outside the Apple Store in Brent Cross for it to open, that they ended up exchanging phone numbers.
Who else makes friends while out shopping? It’s ridiculous.
The thing is, though, he likes connecting with real people in the real world – not with profile pictures on a social media screen.
So we were all quite surprised when, the other day, he announced his intention to open a Facebook account. He explained that friends kept emailing him my Facebook posts, so he figured he may as well read them for himself.
I showed him how to open an account (though in fact he is extremely computer-literate). My family then had a spread bet on how long it would take him to announce he was going to leave Facebook again. I gave it three days, My oldest child suggested a week, and my husband thought by Christmas.
I was spot on.
“I’ve been inundated with friend requests!” my dad said. “I don’t like it at all!”
He has sent me his reasons for quitting, and here they are:
As you will continue to be in contact with Mark Zuckerberg I would be grateful if you would put this message on Facebook. Please advise Mr Zuckerberg that after only three days I am regretfully resigning from his organisation. I hope that this will not impact too adversely on his business and I do wish him every future success, even without my participation.
I also have a message for my family and friends, many of whom have instantly requested to be associated with me on Facebook. My refusal does not reflect any lack of affection for them and I will love them all as in the past.
You may wonder what has motivated this decision. It is not a matter of technology as I have no difficulty in understanding electronics and computers. It is a question of age. I am now eighty-one and two-thirds and this is exactly the point at which one becomes incompatible with this lifestyle.
I do like to have lots of friends, but one at a time in a predictable sequence, and without random comments from their friends and their friends’ friends ad infinitum.
I am very fond of looking at photographs but these need to be arranged in an album after due thought and perused methodically. Similarly I like videos and films, especially when listed in the Radio Times and watched at the appointed hour. Programmes on the wireless are also very much enjoyed.
So please ask everyone I know to continue to keep in touch on a regular basis. Pigeon post or the electric telegraph is preferred, alternatively by Royal Mail, and as a last resort by email.
So if you want to contact my dad, just follow his instructions. And if you’re not real-life friends with him yet, don’t fret – you probably will be soon.
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