I have never been an “early adopter.” For example, most of my childhood buddies started getting interested in girls once we reached junior high — but for several years my extra-curricular activities continued to center on toys, candy and video games, and not until my early 20s did I pair up with my first real girlfriend.
More recently, when cell phones swept the scene in the early 2000s, I was one of the last people in my circle of acquaintances to purchase one. Similarly, after Facebook first hit the Internets, I waited a couple years before signing up for an account.
Now given their potential links to heart attacks and brain cancer, respectively, I’m still torn on the value of girlfriends and cell phones. When it comes to Facebook, however, I’m a raving fan.
Back in January, I wrote of a voyage of pomp and social networking that began on Newt Gingrich’s Facebook wall and ended with a photo of Newt, his wife Calista, and an oversized wiener.
Today, I share another Facebook jaunt, again hoping to point out how the medium — still in its infancy — continues to offer a unique chance to make friends and influence politicians.
Let’s start with Congressman Kevin McCarthy, a Republican who represents California’s 22nd district, which includes parts of Los Angeles, Kern, and San Luis Obispo counties.
Though McCarthy — clearly an American, in case you were wondering — appears to own a dog, like I do, it is safe to assume that he and I disagree on every major issue in the national discourse. Nonetheless, by “liking” McCarthy’s page, I was instantly able to post on his wall and respond to other people’s comments on his page.
Admittedly, my first impulse, a response to someone who had posted on McCarthy’s wall, was less than dignified:
And I dropped another unfortunately smarmy comment when I saw how another commenter was using Sarah Palin’s image as a profile pic:
But then I found a protest post on McCarthy’s wall from an apparently sensible person, reminding me that the world can be a friendly place and Facebook a force for good.
Just then, a news item from the local team at Fox 5 showed up in my feed.
Quick typing meant I got “firsties” on comments — and in this case, my comment generated a response.
Emboldened, I decided to tactfully speak my mind more often on Facebook. For example, I was moved to respond to a fundraising event posted by San Diego city councilman and candidate for mayor Carl DeMaio. The event was to be hosted by San Diego furniture store Jerome’s, the place with the long-running commercials starring Jerry himself.
DeMaio quickly deleted that comment, but I didn’t take it personally. And on the 4th of July, one of his posts inspired me again.
Apparently that was too much friendship for DeMaio: after deleting the comment above, he defriended me, rendering me unable to comment on his Facebook stuff.
I must admit it hurt a little bit. But I bounced back with help from my Facebook friendship with San Diego County, which had just posted three pics in a new album called Medical Examiner’s Office.
From there I stopped back in on Newt Gingrich’s page, where — unlike my first visit six months ago — all of his posts now generate dozens of comments from his “friends.” I decided to just put a humorous twist on a quote from “Airplane” on Newt’s wall, just to let him know that I’m right there next to my very first Facebook political buddy as he goes through some trying times.
I also checked in on the page of Meg Whitman, who I had consoled via Facebook after her loss in California’s November 2010 race for governor. I was hoping to find out which of California’s beaches Whitman had been bikini-ing up this summer, but she hadn’t posted any pics in awhile. I had to make due with some nostalgic pics from the 2010 campaign album.
Anyway, there’s only so much time to reminisce when what the world really needs is action. With action in mind, I next checked out East County congressman Duncan Hunter’s page — and again got a chance to make the first comments on a politician’s latest post.
Hunter never responded, but I appreciated the chance to speak my mind. And I enjoyed interacting with one of Hunter’s supporters on another one of Hunter’s posts:
Soon I found myself on congressman Kevin McCarthy’s page again, and again I interacted with other McCarthy fans.
Some of the new relationships I established quickly grew interesting as my fellow FBers gave more insight into their personalities.
Interestingly, the only Facebook politician whose page yielded a response to my queries was Lorie Zapf, a Republican on San Diego’s city council.
First, Zapf posted an update and I posted a couple questions:
Within minutes, a woman who seemed to work for Zapf’s office responded thoroughly and coherently.
Zapf’s pseudo-spokesperson even responded to my follow-up question. I was impressed with her responsiveness — and with Facebook, which helped little old me, from the comfort of my computer screen, turn Zapf’s broadcast into a chance to ask her meaningful questions in front of a substantial audience.
In fact, after all that, I almost needed a cigarette — but instead I got a San Diego 6 News bulletin, which was perfect because I had another chance to drop firsties and to make my voice heard across the channel’s hundreds of Facebook fans.
Six likes, baby, and none of them my own. Word to Mark Zuckerberg!