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Lost in the labyrinth of Facebook

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I checked in today on Facebook, and it tells me that I can add Mike Babinsky as a friend.

This isn’t the WSD trustee suggesting we be friends, as far as I can see, this is Facebook telling me that I have the ability to add Babinsky as a friend if we want to be mutually consenting adults, which — and I know so little about this infernal device, that I’m pretty much just surmising here — I believe means that one of the 27 people with whom I’m already friends, must be friends with Babinsky.

Who in the world could that be? And what could I be revealing about myself, and to whom is it accessible?

I joined Facebook a while back through my WFP account, so that I could find some work-related sites — such as the kids selling contraband pop and chips out of their lockers at Kelvin, or the students trashing a substitute teacher in Pembina Trails.

But I recently decided to join Facebook through my personal email, since pretty much everyone else in the immediate and extended family was on there. I haven’t done anything so far on the site that threatens my career or my liberty, I hope, limiting messages posted to a couple of birthday greetings, and to responding to a request from my first cousin to become a fan of a group that wants PEI to be the first province to have one million fans.

Yet I keep getting opportunities to add friends of whom I’ve never heard, though I’ve figured out that most of them are people my kids know, or who know my niece by marriage, or who chum with my university bud in BC.

I get emails through Hotmail telling me that a picture of me has been tagged, and I have no idea what that means. I log on to Facebook, and there’s a photo of an old friend in LondonOnt, and people whom I’ve never met are commenting on her photo, on my home page.

Or wall.

Or, LOL, like, whatever.

I certainly would have been more hesitant to join if my kids weren’t now adults spending much of the school year in another province. I didn’t want certain of my fans out there to know who my kids were, when they were younger.

And before I joined up on Hotmail, I deleted old entries in my personal address books, so friends requests from me wouldn’t pop up on the Facebook sites of people I’d coached as little kids 10 years ago — it does work like that, or does it? Could someone help me out here? Even if we’re not friends? If you’re on Facebook, and someone in your address book is on Facebook, do you get flagged? Or the other person? Maybe I’m in Mike Babinsky’s address book.......

I remember early on, when I joined through the WFP, that I got friends requests from several strangers. But when I was cleaning out old emails at work one time, I came across those names — nearest I can reckon, these people wrote to me at work, and kept my address in their own system.

Does that make sense?

One thing that’s surprised me is how few people from school are on Facebook, certainly not even all the ones from high school and university with whom I exchange oldfashioned emails.

I’m listed on my profile with three high schools.....and once again I have trouble navigating. I interpreted the instructions that I have to list my graduating year for all three, even the enormous high school in Scarberia where I did just Grade 9; I couldn’t list actual years attended, so I put down the year for all three that I graduated Grade 13, so as to get my contemporaries, and not that many people popped up whom I even vaguely remembered. So I tried a year before, and a year after, and not much difference. Strange, though, how several names came up in Scarberia and Etobicoke of people I remembered, though we weren’t particularly friends.

Or maybe, given that I graduated Grade 13 almost 45 years ago, I’m simply part of a demographic that rarely joins Facebook.

Anyway, I’m rambling even more incoherently than usual, thanks probably to just having returned from our first allegedly warm weather winter vacation since becoming empty nesters.

I’ll try to get back to ranting and whining about education issues in a day or two.

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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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