K4287 BC-CPT-FACEBOOK-COMMENTA 04-04 0463 routed by nikki

Flushing common sense down the Facebook toilet


By Rob Manker

Chicago Tribune



CHICAGO — Technology is making us dumber. How else can I explain my willing invitation to anyone with Internet access that they invade my home and take my family’s stuff?

See, I finally joined a "social-networking" Web site. OK, Facebook. I once proudly and prudently vowed never to do this, but after the bosses urged us all to join, it soon became clear that resistance was futile.

So I signed up, made friends, joined groups, built a photo gallery, drank virtual beers and became a vampire. The standard stuff. I even logged in a few times a day to update what I was doing:

"Rob is working."

"Rob is eating lunch."

"Rob is not going to eat lunch there ever again."

From the mundane to milestones, from weather vanes to gallstones, most of us simply can’t resist telling others what interests us and what’s going on in our lives. Turns out, neither could I resist. And this is where the dumb part comes in.

"Rob is packing."


"Rob is going on vacation."

"Rob realizes he just told everybody with access to his Facebook page that he will be gone all week."

I didn’t really post that last one, but I might as well have. That’s how all-consuming these sites can be. I quickly felt so compelled to keep everyone abreast of my every move that I flushed common sense down the cyber-toilet.

Normally, I do all the protective, responsible things before a trip — hold the newspaper, turn on light-timers, triple-check that every door is double-locked. I tell only a select few people that we’re going.

And yet, suddenly I had no problem telling everybody in my "networks," all my Facebook friends, acquaintances and never-mets, that we were leaving town. That our house would be unoccupied, the dog boarded, our belongings ripe for the taking.

Realizing my techno-gaffe, I immediately reversed course:

"Rob is on vacation, or is he?"

"Rob is an expert marksman."


"Rob is hoarding angry pit bulls."

Paranoid? Possibly. A breach of Facebook code? Perhaps. But a chance to restore that small piece of mind that I had unwittingly surrendered. A chance to enjoy our trip.

Now that we’re home and everything is just as we left it, I can tell you this story.

Look for it on my profile. As a matter of fact, right now ...

"Rob is posting this story on Facebook."


(Rob Manker is a copy editor on the Chicago Tribune’s metro desk.)



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