Unbound from the ‘book

I joined Facebook in early 2007. It opened to anyone with an email address (as opposed to being limited to educational institutions) in September 2006. So I’ve been on Facebook for most of its public life. That’s quite a long time for an old person. The young whippersnappers are quite gobsmacked when they ask if I’m on Facebook and I tell them “Sonny, I was on Facebook before you were born.”

(Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit. Also, I was lying. Real young whippersnappers aren’t on Facebook anymore.)

Facebook is one of those plus and minus things in your life. I won’t elaborate. Anyone on Facebook knows what I’m talking about. Anyone not on Facebook by now doesn’t want to know the pluses anyway.

I’ve found it useful at times. The year I was training for my first marathon, I would put updates on my page titled “Diary of a Mad Wannabe Marathon Woman”. It made me accountable and got me out training when I didn’t feel like it. And it gave me something to think about as I ran.

I’ve also discovered some pretty cool running opportunities that have popped up in my Facebook newsfeed. (It’s odd. If you post a lot of stuff about running, Facebook puts running ads in your feed. How do they know to do that?? ūüôĄ )

About a year ago, I deactivated my account. It wasn’t in response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Anyone shocked by what came out about all that, clearly doesn’t understand you don’t get something free for nothing.

In my case, I got out after I posted one too many “a trouble shared is a trouble halved” posts in a time of stress which broke a couple of rules and I got in trouble at work. I’m not a fan of getting in trouble. So my response was to deactivate my account.

After two weeks, I reactivated it because I had an attack of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). It wasn’t that I was missing what people were eating when they went out for dinner or photographs of their feet at a beach or pool in some exotic location. I had a fear of missing out on photographs and stories of some special little people in my life that I don’t get to see in person very often. Also, some of the wackiest and most exhilarating running events I’ve participated in have come about because an ad about it popped up in my feed. I didn’t want to miss out on the next exciting night run or crazy cosplay race. There were also a couple of pages that were informational and I was worried about missing out on things I wanted to do because I wouldn’t know about them.

I returned to Facebook under new conditions. I reduced my ‘friends’ by about two thirds, narrowed the pages I was following to just the ones from which I really wanted information and ramped up my privacy settings to maximum level. It at least felt a little safer.

However, I’ve just deactivated my account again and this time I mean it. The only reason I’ve chosen deactivation over total deletion is that I need to maintain a Messenger presence for family reasons. I’m also, for now, hanging onto the Facebook page for my blog so in some ways, I still have a presence there but without all the extra….er…stuff.

So why now? And what happened to FOMO?

The thing is, photos of little people I love will never make up for in-person cuddles and giggles. There are other places I can look up running events I might wish to participate in (and maybe missing a few and not cramming my life so full is a good thing.) I’m hoping friends holding music gigs or workshops will keep me in mind and spread the news beyond Facebook.

Life changes and sometimes parts of your life that have been important come to an end either by choice or unexpectedly. Facebook can have an unfortunate tendency to keep those parts of your life in your face. If the ending was not your choice, it can be painful to be reminded of what you have lost. Photos from outings to which you’re no longer invited, glowing posts about events that you know you will never be involved in again. De-friending or un-following is not always the easy answer.

Maybe it’s also a chance to increase opportunities for real world interactions and sharing beyond just a click on Like or leaving a passing comment.

So I’m choosing to care for me, cutting myself some slack and unbinding from the ‘book.

And the big plus side? In my need for human connection, I’ll come looking for it in the blogosphere. Look out, MOSY is back!

What’s your relationship with Facebook? Avid fan, necessary user or full anti-Zuckerberg?

why-people-delete-facebook_o_663189

Guilty.

Two Degrees of Facebook

So, we all know the theory of Six Degrees of Separation, right? And probably its derivative Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. (Excuse the use of Wikipedia but I’m not explaining rocket science. And if it’s good enough for our Federal Environment Minister to use to disprove¬†a link between climate change and increased bushfire intensity then I think I’m safe in this instance.)

Let me assume that it doesn’t take a mathematician (I am one but that’s irrelevant) to work out that this theory is seriously out of date in this age of social media.

It all came home to me when I inadvertently wandered into the ‘People¬†You May Know’ section of Facebook.

I was bored so I scrolled down the list. Lots of people I kind of know, lots of people I don’t know at all but are friends with my friends so Facebook (who wants the whole world to be friends, bless ’em) thinks I should be friends with them too, and people I know who are friends with other people I know but whom I did not know were friends with the people I know.

It’s all a little bit¬†creepy.

And then there’s the suggestion of people you don’t know and who also seem not to have any mutual friends in common. What’s with¬†that?

I usually try to be friends with people I¬†want to be Friends with (with a capital F) so I ignored Facebook’s¬†suggestions.

And having recently learned that a flesh and blood, pre-social media, long-term friend has just been through a really rough time, I think my energies are best spent on those with whom I have a Real Life One Degree of Separation relationship. But thanks anyway, Facebook.

FB Friends Sesame Street

Six Degrees of Sesame Street (I’d be friends with these folks – especially that fabulous Mr S.)

 

 

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The Day Facebook Hijacked Kindness

I’m going to do something for you.

As long as you ask me to.

And you have to do something in return.

St Facebook

There was a strange phenomenon on New Year’s Day. There were posts going around Facebook from people promising to do/make/send something to the first¬†x number of friends who commented on their post with the words “I’m in”. It was a sort of un-random Random Acts of Kindness project.¬†Those who put their virtual hand up were then requested to post the same offer in a Pay It Forward¬†manner.

I applaud any effort to use Facebook to engender some humanity-affirming action rather than to share funny cat pictures but given rampant narcissism and subliminal consumerism is pretty much Facebook’s bread and butter, is it really the right forum for such a sensitive and selfless expression?

One friend was forced to delete her original post due to the comment section’s descent into lewdness. When she re-posted it, nobody responded. Somewhat proving my point.

I¬†hope that somewhere out there, hundreds – perhaps even thousands –¬†of people are sending and receiving lovely things in a growing circle of common kindness but I fear it is, despite the existence of some umpteen million Facebook users, actually a rather small circle.

WHY?

An act of kindness is an act of love. Whether it’s a beautiful gift for a friend or some parking meter money for a stranger, a good deed is done with love. With our friends, it’s obvious. We love them because they are our friends and so we act out of that love. But a kindness to a stranger is just as much an act of love – love of a fellow human being. Offering a kindness on condition a person firstly asks for that kindness and then is expected to repeat the same kindness makes it sound more like a business transaction.

An act of kindness cannot be scheduled. The kindnesses that have the most impact are those that meet a need. For this, we need to be open to what is happening in the lives of those around us – friend and stranger – and be ready to respond if we see the need and we are able to help. I wonder how many people followed their Facebook post by fulfilling their obligations as soon as possible. Fearing they might forget, rather than spread the deed randomly through the year they dispensed of the task while they thought of it.

An act of kindness is unexpected. There’s a reason the phrase is¬†Random¬†Acts of Kindness, not¬†Pre-planned Acts of Kindness. The sudden and surprising offering of a good deed cannot help but fill your heart with ¬†joy, whether you be the giver or receiver.

An act of kindness is unconditional. When we pass a few dollars to the single parent ahead of us in the checkout queue who is short of money for his groceries, we certainly do not expect to be repaid. Neither do we expect our friends to repay a similar kindness. A true act of kindness comes from the heart and expects nothing in return, including any assurances the recipient will fulfil a promise to reciprocate in some way.

When all is said and done though, whether it is via Facebook or some other method, pursue kindness always. But maybe give the funny cat pictures a rest.

If you participated in a Facebook kindness project in some way, I’d love to hear from you about your experience. Leave a comment below.

 

 

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