My father was born in 1933. He was a paperboy in the days when paperboys stood on city corners and shouted "Extra!"
The printed newspaper was king as my father came of age. In his home, it still is king. He has two newspapers delivered daily. He reads every inch of both. He does the crossword puzzles in both, too with a pencil.
(Note to people under 25: A pencil is a small, yellow, wooden stick that leaves a mark when its tip is pressed against paper.)
My father is aware that people these days do crossword puzzles on their computers and cell phones or BlackBerrys but such an idea is nutty to him. Only an idiot would bring electronic equipment into the bathroom.
To be sure, my father has shunned the communications marvels of modern times. He uses my mother's cell phone from time to time but only to avoid long-distance charges when calling out-of-state numbers.
He has never sent or received an e-mail.
He never searches the Web for information. He uses the White Pages or Yellow Pages.
(Note to people under 35: The White Pages and Yellow Pages are thick directories of people and businesses that are left at your door once a year.)
And so, it is safe to say, there are two other things my father will never ever do: use Facebook or Twitter.
Facebook.com is a social-networking Web site where people post important updates for their electronic "friends," such as detailed descriptions, including pictures, of what they ate for breakfast.
Twitter.com is similar to Facebook, except the descriptions are much more brief. They're called "tweets" and they're essentially little telegraph messages ("Ate oatmeal today. Was good.")
There certainly are upsides to these new technologies. If you are a stay-at-home mom and you are isolated from adults all day, it surely is helpful to share witty notes, over the Internet, with other adults.
I've not been using Facebook very long, but the tool has helped me locate and be located by friends I haven't talked to for years. Some 300 million are using the tool, so there is a good chance a lot of people from your past have a profile page on the site.
Which brings us to the downside.
Maybe there is a reason your old friends are old friends. Maybe it is best that you don't begin communicating again with old girlfriends. Maybe you said everything you had to say to these people, which is why they are old friends and old girlfriends in the first place.
Unless you feel a compelling need to tell them what you had for breakfast.
The Associated Press reports that Craig Kinsley, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Richmond, says shallow electronic communications are like cotton candy. He says humans crave contact and human interaction, but the Internet kind of interaction is without substance. It's somewhat banal.
And so it is, according to a variety of news reports, that Facebook fatigue is beginning to set in. People are tiring of spending hours each day describing and reading about the minute details of breakfast. I certainly have tired of it.
Which brings us back to my father. He hasn't wasted a moment on chatty online communications. He still lives in the real world. He still enjoys looking people up in the White Pages. He still enjoys his newspapers. He reads three or four real books every week.
(Note to people under 25: A book is a compact device in which words are printed on paper. One must read the words and transform them into pictures in one's head.)
And when he wants to communicate something, he approaches other human beings, usually my mother, and uses his voice to convey thoughts. Sometimes he uses facial expressions to emphasize various points.
I think he's on to something. That's why I'm spending less time in the electronic world and more time reading real newspapers and books and talking to real people.
As I said, I think I'm turning into my father. Thank goodness.