We’re Okay. Honestly.

According to some US media pundits, Australia has descended into a dystopian totalitarian hellscape.

That’s news to me. To most of us. Okay, to pretty much all of us except the twilight people who live in the far dark reaches of the internet and don’t get out much.

Have we been under a long and strict lockdown? Yes.

Have our state governments been introducing vaccine mandates for many sectors under a “No Jab, No Job” policy? Yes.

Are we upset about it? Nope.

Okay, yes, there have been protests but they have mostly been attended by those aforementioned drongos. I mean, to protest against a lockdown by doing the very thing that will extend that lockdown (by spreading the virus) takes a special kind of stupid. If you want to understand the kind of people who participated in these events (that, it might be pointed out, fizzled out after a few days), check out this Twitter thread:

At a press conference soon after the announcement of a vaccine mandate for all education staff, one reporter (undoubtedly a Murdoch subordinate by her obsession with ‘gotcha’ questions) asked the Deputy Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino what the government planned to do to replace all the teachers who would resign because they didn’t want to be vaccinated. Minister Merlino replied that in a recent voluntary survey responded to by 40,000 teachers, 98% of them were already fully vaccinated so he didn’t think it would be much of a problem. For some reason, she didn’t have a follow up question.

Our state has vaccinated at a record pace (since we finally received sufficient supply) and we are on track to be more than 90% fully vaccinated by the end of the year.

Living in a land that infamously tries to kill you every day (floods, fires and hurricanes, spiders, snakes and sharks, not to mention the drop bears and hoop snakes) tends to bring you together with your fellow survivors. There’s a very strong community ethos that flows through the Australian psyche. Given the choice between staying in our homes or watching thousands of our fellow Australians die, to us it’s a no brainer.

It appears that the global nature of social media has tempted some to import the more individualistic, personal rights and freedoms ethos of Americans into our country. You only have to look at some of the protest signs to see slogans more often seen at rallies of the former President. Even the red cap of such followers have been spotted amongst the protestors.(Seriously!) And in the absence of a Confederate flag (Australia never having had the need for a civil war), they chose the closest thing they could find – the Australian Red Ensign. I don’t think the Merchant Navy is very happy about it.

Does this flag make me look American to you?

What these nufties don’t understand is that the political ideologies of another nation won’t just slot into our own. (Ironic, really, when most of these people are part of the ‘if you come to our country you must act like us’ brigade.)

Some have tried to compare our pandemic safety measures to living under the Taliban in Afghanistan. But we have universal healthcare, our elections are run by independent commissions, abortion is a right given to all women and we don’t have to stare at the AR-15 hanging off the back of the person in front of us in the checkout line. (I don’t even know anyone who owns a gun of any kind. Unless Nerf guns or water pistols count.) And to date we’ve had 151,943 cases of COVID19 and 1590 deaths in total across the country (pop 25.7 million).

Does that sound dystopian to you?

Please don’t worry about us. We are fine.

(And in a final point of irony, the call to invade to save us all came on the day my state celebrated “Freedom Friday”. Having reached 70% fully vaccinated adult population, restrictions have eased and we are well on our way to COVID-normal life.)

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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