Dear Annie: Recently, I missed a large birthday party for a close family member. I was not aware of the party until several weeks later, when other family members asked where I was that day. My answer was that I had not been invited and knew nothing about it. I was then promptly told the invitation had been on Facebook. It is as if I am expected to read Facebook each day instead of the regular mail. I checked my Facebook page and found no such invitation or mention of a party. I really don't know how to use Facebook, so the invitation might have been somewhere unseen by me even if I logged on regularly.
I have missed several invitations and events because of this. Am I wrong for not checking Facebook for such information? Is this the new norm? If it is, then I suppose we can expect to see obituaries posted on Facebook in the future — and birth announcements and wedding announcements.
What is expected these days? — Home Alone
Dear Home Alone: If friends and loved ones really want you to be at their event and they know you don't use Facebook, they should reach out to you separately, whether with a phone call, an email or — don't hold your breath — a good old-fashioned paper invitation. That said, they may not know you don't use Facebook. You do have an account, after all. One option would be to delete your account so there's no confusion over whether or not you're receiving invitations that way. Another option would be a tech solution for this tech problem: If you use a calendar on your computer, tablet or smartphone, you should be able to sync your Facebook account with it so that any events you're invited to will automatically be added to the calendar. For what it's worth, I am with you. I don't think social media should be the hub of our social lives.
Dear Annie: "News Junkie," who finds himself obsessed and stressed by the 24-hour news cycle, is not alone. Cable news ratings are at record highs. The major newspapers have the highest readership they've had in years. Investigative reporting has never been more diligent. Most Americans think the country is on the wrong track. And most responsible citizens believe that now, more than ever, is not the time to not be paying attention.
Your advice to "News Junkie" is what I try to do myself: take periodic breaks from the news cycle to do something soul-restoring. In my case, I take my dog out every day, weather permitting, to a nearby nature area where you can let your dogs run and play off leash. The only other thing I would suggest for "News Junkie" is that he take action of some kind, such as volunteering for a political campaign, a "get out the vote" effort or a social service organization whose mission he respects. It is a great stress reliever, too, knowing that you are doing something, however small, to make the world a better place than it is right now. — Kay C.
Dear Kay C.: I'd like to second your advice and encourage "News Junkie" and other overwhelmed Americans to volunteer. Though it's crucial to take periodic breaks from the news cycle to avoid stress, fatigue and ultimately apathy, it can also be therapeutic to take action.
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