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?

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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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Parent v Teenager – The Internet Wars

If you’re lucky enough to live in the Land of Unlimited Downloads, you won’t have heard of the Internet Wars. It’s shaping up to be the biggest battlefield between parents and their teenagers this world has ever seen. Well, maybe the biggest this country has ever seen. City? Well, okay, so it’s only my house but it’s definitely big.

Here in the Land of We’ll Screw You Over Every Chance We Get, unlimited Internet downloads are a luxury and an expensive one at that. Well, not so expensive if you’re prepared to sign up with an ISP with an unreliable performance record. So you can download all you want, provided you’re happy¬†for it to take a week on snail speed.

Choosing an Internet plan in Complex Country takes a PhD in mathematical analysis. I’ve been told that in some countries, the decision to connect to the Internet comes down to “Will we have the Internet or not?” If only.

The decision here is “How much download do we need? How fast do we want it to go? What do we actually have access to? How reliable is the ISP? How much will it cost?” That last question is hard to quantify as all the other variables come in a dizzying array of options. It’s like comparing apples to toasters.

I’m told we are also paying through a Cyrano-sized nose for Internet access compared to other countries. I don’t know why. It’s a general trend across most technology in this country. Perhaps it’s just a carry over from the days when it took 3 months to deliver the post via ship. “All communication must henceforth be slow and expensive.”

So, why the Internet Wars? The battle comes into play when demand outstrips supply. Or, in other words, when the 12-year-old downloads half your monthly allowance in the first week. Cue Parental Rant.

If you manage to survive to the end of the billing cycle without getting shaped onto dial-up speed, there’s a chance the UN Peacekeepers could go home. But beware the last minute Charge of the Light Brigade as they charge through the last of your download in two hours, leaving you to update your blog later in the evening in a ‘hit Save Draft, go make a cup of tea’ cycle¬†of pain.

Cue Parental Rant. Again.

Parental regulation rarely works. Let’s face it, most six-year-olds know more than we do about technology. They’re wizards at getting around restrictions. Throw a technologically-advanced, propeller-hat-wearing 17-year-old into the mix and you’ve lost the war before you even get¬†out of boot camp.

But just as it seems time to pull out the white flag, free-market forces and self-regulation can come to the rescue. The day after one loud battle in which the words “unreasonable”, “selfish” and “if you want more download you can pay for it yourself” were at the fore, this appeared on the wall next to the¬†computer:

Internet Rules

The war is probably not over but at least there’s a temporary ceasefire.

Postscript: I haven’t even touched on the battle to control what they’re actually¬†accessing on the Internet. That’s like my own private Waterloo. With me as the short Corsican.

 

 

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Digital Native vs Fluent Speaker

DNvsFS

It is said that Generation Z (those born from 1995 to 2009) is the first digital native generation. Born into a technological world (at least in the developed world), they have never known a life without the internet or mobile phones. They utilise technology like it’s a part of their DNA and adapt to each new technological advance with breathtaking speed. They are the “switched on” generation.

I am not a digital native. I was born into a house with one television (black and white) and filled my leisure time reading books – the real sort, you know, made of paper. We played Monopoly with a board, on a table. However, we were introduced to technology whenever possible. My all-time favourite birthday present was the 10 in 1 electronics kit I received when I was ten. We were also the proud owners of a Commodore computer that ran games on cassette tapes. Sigh. I really miss that Klingon game.

I have become a technology fluent speaker. I understand the language but it has taken work and effort. Solving problems generally involves trial and error and Google is my best friend. I possess, admittedly, a natural aptitude for technology, a ‘knack’ if you will. Much like gardening, music or spelling, understanding technology is just another skill that either comes easily or it doesn’t. I wouldn’t have a clue when or how to prune a rosebush but I can instinctively work out what may be wrong with my computer. Which means it¬†isn’t necessarily all generation based. I have young friends who know less than I do about technology. It’s not their thing, so it doesn’t come naturally.

However, digital natives do have the advantage. It is understood that the earlier you are introduced to technology, the easier you find it to use and adapt to as you age. So those born into homes of smart phones, tablets, laptops and the internet will accept them as a part of life and use them accordingly.

I am something of a permanent resident. I understand the language, live comfortably in my new home and can happily hang out with the locals. But I will never feel like a native. A part of me will always acknowledge the strangeness of my new country.

Digital natives tend to view we immigrants with a measure of either withering scorn or condescending pity. I live with three digital natives who all have a tendency to treat me like a dim-witted tourist. If I am trying to do something on the computer under their watchful eye, they speak to me in the technological equivalent of “No, you looky. It no go like that. You understand?” I can read the language but like reading any foreign text, I have to read it carefully to determine my next action. So if a dialogue box pops up while I am doing something, I read it, then I know what to do. The digital native can speed read. Faced with the same situation they know in a split second what it means and move on.

It makes me green with envy.

Generation Y has loved to view itself as the technological generation with its iTunes and white earbuds permanently affixed to ears, but the members of Generation Y are in for a rude shock when Generation Z hits the workforce in a few years. Always seen as the young IT experts at work, Gen Y has enjoyed a smug position in the office. Gen Z is on its way to wipe that smug look off Gen Y’s face. Sorry, Gen Y, I guess you won’t be CEO by the time you’re 40 after all.

(Anyone who has done their generational research will be able to determine, from the bitterness in my voice, that I am, of course, Generation X.)

Generation Z should watch out, though. I was sitting in a waiting room the other day watching a two year old play a game on an iPad. Gen Z only has a few years before Generation Alpha is going to wipe the technological floor with them.

 

 

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