Computers changing life as we know it — for good and bad

When it comes to computers, there are two kinds of people: those who love them and those who don’t.

The second group is simple to describe. Most are people who have gotten along just fine without computers so far, and have absolutely no interest in starting now.

They are the ones who still have passbook savings accounts and faithfully have their balance updated in their books whenever they make a deposit and know for sure their account balance is what the teller says it is.

When Christmas comes, they are the ones who take their little gift lists to Walmart or Kmart, and spend hours browsing crowded aisles for the right gift.

E-mail? Not for them. They keep in touch with the U.S. Postal Service. In fact, for many, the highlight of the day is having the mail truck stop in front of their mailbox. They look forward to that almost as much as they do having their newspaper delivered every day.

Speaking of newspapers, these are the faithful readers who have subscribed for years and much prefer reading an actual paper to scrolling through an online version.

The first group is a lot more complex.

They fall in a diverse range of ages, ranging from the very young to akamai senior citizens who enjoy keeping up with trends.

Many are users who consider and use the computer primarily as a tool for word-processing, spreadsheets and analyzing data bases.

They do all of their banking online, and have done so for years.

E-mail? They couldn’t live without it and consider and call the postal service “Snail mail.”

They also are avid online shoppers for everything from books to albums to gifts, knowing their selection is limitless and they are almost certain to find what they are looking for and more online.

The Internet is their primary source of news, from the online versions of their newspapers to the countless news sites out there.

And they use Facebook, the biggest social media site according to figures in its third quarter earnings report released Jan. 12, 2016.

The number of Facebook’s monthly active users cleared 1.35 billion, the report said, roughly equal to the population of China and 9 percent larger than that of India.

Analysts say these statistics indicate nearly 20 percent of the world’s population logs into Facebook once a month.

I have been one of them for about six years or so. I admit I was reluctant at first. Not knowing what it was all about and fairly reticent about putting myself out there, for the first year or so I just “lurked.” not posting much, just observing.

Eventually, Facebook’s advantages started to surface. The biggest for me by far was the ability to find friends I had been separated for years, either fellow workers who left or government and business people who had become friends rather than acquaintances that I had lost touch with since leaving the newspaper.

Facebook became part of my world, I have enjoyed being reconnected with countless dear friends.

It is simply amazing how many Kauai people have a presence on Facebook. Some of our most well-known and loved radio personalities, nonprofit and business entities, even Mayor Bernard Carvalho.

What draws them and keeps them coming?

It seems to be different things for many of them. Some use it as a way to keep in touch with family members and friends who live far away.

Others enjoy posting photographs and news of their families and life in general.

Some share their humor. Others find and share issues of social relevance that others may have missed. Others prefer to use it as a way of sharing their political opinions.

Some promote their business or nonprofit activities and events.

Many share delicious recipes complete with how-to videos and directions.

Others simply choose to play one of Facebook’s many game applications and share time with other players..

“Sharing” is the common denominator. FB users share anything they feel others may enjoy.

There is a down side, though. Analysts warn that social media can also be used to create political change, both major and minor. In the year, 2011, Egyptians used Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube as a means to communicate and organize demonstrations and rallies to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak.

And more recently, we have discovered how Isis used social media sites to communicate and orchestrate attacks on innocent people.

Facebook offers many things to those who take the time to check it out. Take a moment to give it a try. You may be hooked before you know it.

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Rita De Silva is former editor of The Garden Island and a Kapaa resident.

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