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By Peter Huston

Everyday here on Put-in-Bay, or where ever you may be, you can get nearly immediate updates on construction projects, things for sale, new babies on the way, and birthdays. Facebook has become an essential way for our community to stay in touch virtually. We can post yard sales, births, deaths, and church potlucks, places we visited, and fund raisers.

I have seen news travel from one end of the island to the other so quickly that it surprised the newsmakers! Just ask the pilot of the plane that landed off the stern of the Miller Ferry a few years ago!

But Facebook is really a high tech information tool that requires time out of our day and consistent effort to stay “involved”. Some facebookers, like me, casually read and follow the updates but rarely comment. Others play games and find constant entertainment just a click away. Still others remain connected all the time and seem to be able to respond to a comment or post in a moments notice.

A few years back the Deputy CIA Director, Christopher Sartinsky, stated in a congressional testimony “After years of secretly monitoring the public, we were astounded so many people would willingly publicize where they live, their religious and political views, an alphabetized list of all their friends, personal emails addresses, phone numbers, hundreds of photos of themselves, and even status updates about what they were doing moment to moment. It is truly a dream come true for the CIA.”

We all desire positive re-enforcement, and the “like” and “emoticons” that are used on Facebook help us to feel better about what we have posted or a comment we may leave. It also allows us to foster interaction and be a part of a conversation that we might not have known about without Facebook.

Alas, as convenient and immediate as Facebook can be I think there is still a need for our “no” tech system. This time tested system has provided us with up to date information for decades with little or no government oversight and provides us with the human interaction we cherish as well.

I am talking about the hubs of our island, the Post Office, General Store and Ferry docks. They are still the most dependable way to find out what’s going on. Just head to our post office in the morning, lunch or just before closing time and you can not only can find out fascinating things. But the mere fact that you are a regular at one of those intervals means that there is a good chance you share a few of the same personality traits with those you see there. It is a great place to “friend” someone.

Then there is the ferry dock. Some days I may see 30 or more people I know in a matter of minutes. On Facebook I might “view” more in a shorter time, but I won’t know if they are here on the island or on a trip somewhere. Human interaction is the best way to not only “friend” some one, but a great way to keep the conversation going.

Recently, reports about the time our brains are dedicating to daily interaction with social media is detracting from our ability to maintain conversations and concentrate. I find that when we are traveling on the ferry, sitting in the cabin often becomes a “no phone call” zone. It is a great time for getting essential updates and updating others on our likes and dislikes.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that our new era of communication can now provide a bridge between the many layers of technology and human interaction, except when we tune out and stare at our phones. One day I left home in a hurry and forgot my phone. Amazingly, I got onboard the ferry engaged in conversation and did not even miss my phone until I was disembarking. In fact I made it through the entire day without it. In years to come I know we will further integrate technology and community. We just have to remember back to the early days of “AOL” to realize the next big thing is just a “friend” away.

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