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Editor's Note: Glancing into the past

Published: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 12:06 p.m. CDT

One of the MidWeek’s most popular features is Looking Back, a history feature with snippets of local news stories from years past. Many people have called, written or even stopped me on the street to tell  me how much they enjoy that glimpse into our past.

That’s why I was excited by the idea for this week’s cover story, about the old Finnish temperance hall recently granted landmark status by the city of DeKalb. The story began as a shorter feature, but as reporter Doug Oleson dug into it, we knew we had a cover story our readers would enjoy.

In fact, there was far more interesting information than we could possibly fit into a single story, so if local history is your thing, I’d encourage you to go to the free presentation at the hall this week to hear the researchers whose work was responsible for the landmark status. I thought I had a pretty good grasp of DeKalb history – I still do – but I had no idea how important the Finnish community was to the city’s development, or even that there was such a thing as “Finn Town.”

I am familiar with the Finn Town neighborhood around the DeKalb Area Women’s Center, though, and the many interesting old buildings there. The building on 11th Street that houses Conexion Comunidad, a Latino community center, is also an old Finnish hall. It is interesting that these two buildings, nearly a century after being built as community centers, are still serving that purpose.

• • • • •

Lent ended Sunday, which means I am back on my social media accounts. Rather than craving them, I scanned both Twitter and Facebook for a little while on Sunday, then found something else to do without posting to either. Maybe I needed that break more than I thought.

I did miss some news – most notably the birth of a high school friend’s baby – I would have been up on had I been online. But I found during Lent, when I called or ran into a friend, we had more to talk about because we didn’t already know everything going on in one another’s lives.

I like social media, and I think it has value in our society, which continues to evolve under the influence of technology. But that doesn’t mean we have to post every thought, or a summary of every day. Isn’t anyone else annoyed by posts like, “I’m bored,” or “I had chicken enchiladas for dinner tonight”?

Similarly, ever-changing privacy settings don’t bother me much, because if it’s private, I don’t post it on the Internet – not even just for family and friends to see. I find the best way to keep personal information personal is to keep it out of cyberspace.

As a bonus, when I run into an acquaintance, I can bring out pictures of my kids they haven’t already seen and commented on, or share a funny anecdote they’ve never heard before. Social media is fun, but it shouldn’t suck the joy out of social interaction.

Then again, I publish my thoughts here every week for the world to read, so maybe I’m not the best example.

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