I have a bit of a Facebook problem. I spend far too much time checking my Facebook, time when I should be, you know, parenting Sausage or doing housework or something. I’m more than happy to admit that my main motivation for having a Facebook page is my innate nosiness. I love to look at other people’s pictures, read snippets of what’s going on in their lives.
I have 343 online friends, the majority of whom I know in real life…well, sort of. I mean, how well do you really know the girls you went to school with ten years ago? There are quite a few people who I went to school with who I was really happy to get back in touch with, people I truly value but whose lives took such different paths to mine that we lost touch, but on the whole, I barely even knew these girls ten years ago. Now I wish them happy birthday every year and read about their pet cat getting scurvy.
Another little addiction for me is the ‘like’ button. I’m definitely the type of person who gets a kick out of the immediate gratification you get when you update your status and people click ‘like’. I mean let’s face it, why do we update our statuses if we don’t want people to read it, like it and relate to it? It makes us feel valid, doesn’t it?
But why the hell do I need someone who I haven’t seen since primary school ‘liking’ some glib remark I’ve made about Cbeebies to make me feel valid? Does that not say some really negative things about my personality, or is it just all part of the human condition, the condition which made that kid Zuckerberg worth $6.9 billion at the age of 26 (good God, he’s my age? *retches*) So, it’s obviously not just me, is it?
The trouble is, I’m a pedant. I don’t claim that every sentence I write is beautifully composed, with impeccable spelling and grammar (though I do try). But the ‘Facebook insight’ into other people has made me seriously question the level of education in this country. And I’m not just talking about the odd typo, I have at least one ‘friend’ who I’ve only just discovered is virtually illiterate. I’m dead serious. I try not to get too enraged about it all, but when another friend ends EVERY sentence with at least three exclamation marks, one has to wonder what the hell it is that they’re getting so excited about!!! That is the part of Facebook which makes me DIE INSIDE. I check everything I write and go back to delete and re-write whole statuses if I think they don’t sound right, or have a typo. How can others not give a shit that what they’ve written may as well be in Sanscrit?
The other thing that is sometimes lacking on Facebook is a sense of context. Last year, I joined an online group created by people who were taking the same Open University course as me and I thought it would be really handy to be able to discuss the assignments and issues with a group of my peers. I also received ‘Friend Requests’ from a few of the people in the group, and happily accepted. We were a mixed bunch of varying ages, sexes and circumstances, but we fired up some great debates and helped each other along the way. Then, one day a discussion started about a particular issue which was being played out in the media and based on my (what I thought were fairly standard, by no means radical) comments, two of the women in the group decided to delete the whole conversation, delete me from their friends list and actually go to the effort of blocking me from ever seeing their profiles again.
If these women had known me, if they’d actually thought about the context of the conversation, they would have realised that what may have seemed like a reactionary comment was actually quite a reasoned and reasonable statement to make. Or maybe they wouldn’t. That’s the thing with Facebook, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
Either way, their blocking me was no great loss and I’ve managed to get through life quite happily without their judgement. But really, doesn’t it all seem like hard work? Making sure we don’t offend people we don’t even know? I have enough trouble censoring myself for the people I know really well!
All I know is, I’ve been trying to lay off of Facebook a bit lately. I’ve not completely quit as I know there are people who I’d really miss. But on the whole, it’s losing it’s appeal. My cousin was actually brave enough to delete her whole profile, an action of which I will forever be in awe.
But at least there’s always Twitter.
*UPDATE* – I deleted the illiterate friend. I know that seems harsh, because I think she’s probably quite a nice person, but I don’t want my blood pressure to go up every time I read her status.
Also, does anyone else have *those* friends, you know, the ones who say deliberately veiled provocative things like “Phoebe is spending her afternoons sunbathing in the nude in her garden”. You just know they’re sitting there going “Ooh, how can I get people to think about my tits, without actually coming out and saying “hey everybody, think about my tits!” and thus garner an extra molecule of attention out of my friends?”. Or those ones who invent a personality for themselves, which you’re pretty sure doesn’t exist outside of Facebook?
Yeah, those people make me feel a bit nauseous.