So, you remember this guy George Bailey?  Coming out of the holiday season, you just might.  He’s in this movie, see, and he comes home on Christmas Eve all umbrageous only to find his daughter sick in bed, gets even more umbrageous, somehow blames the episode on said daughter’s teacher (personally, I think the little girl was herself a little put out by having to go to school on Christmas Eve), calls said teacher, and beards her out to the point that the poor woman’s anguish brings her husband to the telephone.  And then it happens.  Quoth George : All right, Mister Welch, let me tell you what I really think.”

But I’m not feeling umbrageous today, so I’m not going to tell you what I really  think about Facebook.  Let’s just say I don’t like it that well.  Let’s just say that I’ve never figured out a role for it in my life.  Let’s just say that I’ve always felt that it was having a bad influence on our national life.

I was tempted by it once, though, I’ll ‘fess up to that, and that was when a penfriend told me that there was a group of obituary writers discussing their trade on there.  Now, in the first place, it surprised me that there even are enough obituary writers left out there to have a meeting, at least outside of the proverbial phone booth (if they could even find one of those).  Get past the Times and the Post and I’ve always assumed that such now-obligatory groaners as “Joe Blow, dedicated pilot, flew home to meet Jesus on April 27” were family-generated, not written by a professional.

Since this isn’t my first post about obituaries, I suppose it would be fair to say that they’re an interest.  Just don’t call them an obsession.  I even had a job back in the day which privileged me to give them a scan every week or two just to keep my part of the assembly line moving.

I enjoyed my job so much that I wanted to keep in the loop about my workmates even after I left, and I appreciated very much that alma mater distributed an alumni magazine in which I could read about retirements, promotions, and, yes, obituaries.  I wouldn’t have dreamed that this was a particularly idiosyncratic interest, but apparently it was, as the magazine eventually went kaputt, as they say in Germany, and, to add insult to the grievous injury, without even an obituary on the part of the university to mark the passing of the magazine after its brave six-year battle with capricious funding.

Not to worry, though: I generated some initiative and ingenuity and found a website which would compile and generate a list of obituaries which mentioned the dear old school and email it to me every week.  (Yes, yes, I realize that I could do this on Facebook as well, and probably easier).

So, six months later, how’s it going?   Well, I do have to wade through a bunch of names every Wednesday (fifteen pages, to be exact, and the snarky thing informs me that the list was too long for it to be sent in its entirety).  And the returns aren’t all that great.  So far I haven’t found a single person that I actually worked with, though I did find out about a nodding acquaintance, a frenemy from another school, and somebody I remembered vaguely having heard about, mostly because she had an intriguing name.

The good news here, though, is that I find that all these names, dates, places, and snapshots are pleasant enough to sift through.  It’s a fully decent five-minute investment of time of a Wednesday morning.

So how do I sign up for this Facebook deal all you hipsters are in?