I first heard the term "Facebook" in the spring of 2006, at my middle son's college graduation party in Philadelphia. All the kids were talking about Facebook this and Facebook that, and I chimed in, idiotically, that we had Facebook, too, back when we were in college. I thought they were talking about the "pigbooks" (sorry to be so incredibly non-PC, but you all know that's what we used to call them) in which we used to find the hot-looking "coeds" to date. My niece very kindly took her doddering uncle aside and explained to me what this Facebook thing really was about, here in the 21st century.
For a while, I honestly believed I'd pass away before there was any necessity for me to use Facebook or any of its offshoots, but it turned out I wasn't quite old enough to hide from this scary technology forever. When I started my Beagle Man blog (seriously, was there a human being around five years ago who thought I'd ever learn how to blog?), a social media consultant told me I absolutely had to have a presence on Facebook -- and Twitter -- to complement my blog. She dragged me, kicking and screaming, onto both.
Now, I still have trouble navigating my way around Facebook, but Twitter was fun for me from the git-go. Brevity was good. Cleverness was good. I'm a writer; I could do those things. I had not just one, but two Twitter accounts -- one for my Beagle Man persona, and one for plain old Hank, which I used primarily to wisecrack with my youngest son, Robby, and his friends.
Until the day came when I noticed that Robby hadn't responded to any of my recent tweets. Nor had he been posting any of his own.
"We don't do Twitter anymore," he pronounced. "Now we do Instagram."
At first I didn't see the point of Instagram. Or how it differed from Twitter. But Robby force-fed me an Instagram account anyway.
And I liked it.
The fact is, I do like to take photos with my iPhone. And I do like to show them around. And I get a kick out of the whole hashtag thing. (Robby and I have been working diligently at getting #hermanbeach to trend.)
Then there's the "in" references -- like #nofilter, which I used quite a bit before I had any idea what it meant. And Throwback Thursday. And of course, accumulating "likes." There's one particular follower I can always count on; her likes generally show up within five minutes after I post, even on a weekday. (Not that busy at work, are you, Ashley?) So far, though, I'm finding it hard to compete with my sons and their friends, because I have only 24 followers, whereas most of them have upward of 200. I know there are all kinds of ways to bulk up on followers, but I'm not going to be that cheesy. Unless you consider putting my handle -- doubleh50 -- right here in this column, cheesy.
I have to admit that at this point in my nascent Instagram career, my most famous post is not by me, but of me: It's a six-second video of me wiping out on my surfboard for maybe the 1,000th consecutive time, along with my oldest son, Matt's, narration: "He's going for it again . . . he's going for it again!" . . . followed by his hysterical laughter. (If you want to check it out, Matt's handle is matthewherman.)
The same weekend of that much-admired wipeout, Carol and I were at a waterside happy hour with our out-of-town friend, who actually was a Miss University of Florida back in the day, and we asked someone to take a picture of us. Carol, looking straight at the photographer, came out very good in the photo, but our friend, who'd had a few glasses of wine, decided, at the last second, to strike a glamour pose. Carol took one look, decided she suffered by the comparison, and asked me to delete the photo. For a moment, I considered complying.
Instead, I posted it on Instagram.
Hank Herman is a Westport writer, and "The Home Team" appears every other Friday. You can also keep up with Hank's adventures on his blog, "Beagle Man," on the Westport News website, at http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman/. To reach Hank, email him at DoubleH50@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @BeagleManHank.