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August 27, 2012

Making up for lost time on Facebook

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The Daily Star

The Daily Star — If there ever was a true-blue phenomenon, it is Facebook.

In the realm of tweets, twitches, pings, emails, pokes and Web messages, Facebook is king. In just a few short years, this crown jewel of all social media has reached billions of users. Including me. But I came late.

I had no interest in Facebook until a few months back when our parent company at the radio station sent down the rule that all DJs must have a Facebook page. So be it. I dove in.

Facebook can be a myriad of things. It can be a wonderful memory album with contacts to the past. It can act as an online family reunion that you can attend right from your living room. It can be an important chronicler of local and world events in an instant. And it clearly has become the photo album of the future.

It can also be a titanic time-suck.

The other day, I was on my Facebook page looking at comments and answering queries from my listeners. I received a cheery hello from a name (Ronnie) that did not register with me, so I went to his page to check him out. Still no recognition. 

 So I went to Ronnie’s photo album. I flipped through his vacation photos, old high school photos even photos from a wedding that “Ronnie” had apparently been too. I finally realized that this mysterious contact had entered my page erroneously and that there was simply no connection, either personal or from work, to Ronnie. So I moved on. 

This was two hours later, mind you. Two hours of viewing Ron and his family at Disneyworld in 1999, some grainy old photos of Christmas’ past and some rather unflattering photos of Ron’s nieces and nephews whooping it up at a summer camp in Idaho.

I will never get those two hours back. Ron, it was nice to know you. I think.

A month ago. I decided to post a simple, nostalgic memory on my Facebook page on a Friday afternoon. My mother and I had been talking about the old days recently and I mentioned her shaker bottle that she used to keep on the ironing board in the 1950s. It was an old Pepsi bottle with a homemade sprinkler top on it. She used it to dampen down the clothes before she ironed them. Simple enough.

I found an old photo of a “sprinkle bottle” online and created a five-sentence post about what it was used for. I asked if anybody else remembered this 1950s icon.

What happened next caught me off-guard. The numbers of comments about this stupid Pepsi-bottle sprinkler jumped from 100 to 1,000 to 100,000 in 24 hours. Within one week, it was up to 1 million. As I write this column, the old Pepsi bottle sprinkler is nearing 8 million views worldwide. It is a stunning (and quite ridiculous) figure. My little post about my mother’s old ironing accessory from the 1950s has become one of the most popular Facebook posts ever!

When I looked deeper into the demographics of the post, I can see that the No. 1 city of viewers on it is Houston, Texas (57,088). The No. 3 country of viewers to it is Ireland (212,007). It makes no sense. But it sure shows the power of the Internet and of Facebook in particular.

I, of course, have no idea who those nearly 8 million people are who have looked at Mom’s sprinkler bottle and made comments about it. I can only hope that they enjoyed looking at an unknown guy in Oneonta’s little memory from the past as much as I enjoyed looking at the memories of an unknown guy who clearly loved his Dodge Charger at one time and also maybe attended Woodstock in 1969.

At least that is what I garnered from viewing my phantom friend Ronnie’s photo album somewhere out there in cyberspace.

I’ll catch you in two ...

“Big Chuck” D’Imperio can be heard on weekdays beginning at 6 a.m. on WDOS-AM 730 in Oneonta, and also on Thursday nights from 7-9 p.m. on WSRK-FM 103.9 for his “Oldies Jukebox Show.” You can find “Big Chuck” on Facebook under Upstate New York Books. He invites you to contact him at wdosbigchuck@aol.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/bigchuck.