I’m taking a Facebook holiday. Not sure for how long yet but I’ve reached a point where I’m not enjoying it, and its starting to feel slightly addictive and intrusive. But more insidious is the fact that it makes me feel melancholy more often than it makes me feel happy, a sure sign that something is awry.
Over the weekend I ‘unfriended’ around 40 ‘friends’, the main reason being because they weren’t actually friends at all, they were vague acquaintances at best. Two of them I’ve met just twice. One of them I have only spoken to in a larger social group and never on a one to one basis, and, to my shame, one of them I have never met (they were a friend of a friend and I felt guilty). The other 30 or so were a mixture of business acquaintances (I have LinkedIn for them) or people who never, ever used Facebook. The latter group weren’t doing any harm just sitting there, at least they weren’t filling my newsfeed with dross, but I found the notion slightly creepy that people were maybe reading all about me, seeing my photos and updates, without actually giving anything back. What’s social about that? Doesn’t social imply two-way? It felt too much like stalking, so they were gone too.
Of the 160 or so I have left, I would estimate there are still 30 or so I would like to get rid of but feel too afraid to, as it could be socially awkward or embarrassing if I run into them in future. People I see but don’t really care for much. My fault for ‘friending’ them in the first place I hear you say, a moment of folly for sure, but we are where we are, so now what do I do? And this is one of things I dislike about Facebook most. Caught in my own trap, trapped in a web sown by my own vanity.
But worst of all, is the self-promotion, people clambering over each other to tell all about their latest exploits. And the reason I hate it is that I have found myself doing it too. Why else would I post from a foreign airport? Or upload a photo of my Texan breakfast? I like to think I post updates from far flung places so friends and close family know where I am, but my close family know that anyway, and if they don’t, they shouldn’t have to rely on a social network to find out. The rest of you almost certainly don’t care and I don’t blame you. I don’t care about 90% of the stuff in my newsfeed, yet I seem to log onto Facebook first thing in the morning, last thing at night and several times in between. I have even uploaded photos from my walk down the lane with the dog and I don’t really know why I do that, but it can’t be for good reasons and must have a lot do with vanity.
I also post jokes that I have read on Twitter or heard on TV. Why? To make people laugh certainly, but there’s a part of me that wants to be seen as being funny. Yes, I copy jokes, ergo I am funny. I also copy YouTube links whenever I hear a good song. I post a good song, ergo, I am musically gifted too. Aren’t I? Aren’t I? What do you mean I’m living my life vicariously through others? I can’t write songs or crack original jokes so I post other people’s songs and jokes. I’m awesome me.
If you have read my very first blog you will know I have an ever so slightly addictive personality, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that I sometimes walk down the street experiencing things and immediately thinking “I must put that on Facebook”. As I type this I am watching England struggle on the fifth day of the first test against West Indies. They are 29-3, Trott is out, and my first thought is that I must post that on Facebook. Let’s think about that for a moment. Most of the world don’t like or are highly disinterested in cricket, and out of my 160 or so ‘friends’ probably 10-15 care anything at all about the noble game. Ten of those won’t be on Facebook, so I am ‘talking’ to about five people all of whom will most certainly be following the cricket themselves!
People who post live updates on BGT or X-Factor please take note.
Groucho Marx allegedly once said that he wouldn’t ever belong to a club that would accept him as a member. Billy Connolly once said that anyone who wants to be an MP should automatically be banned from ever becoming an MP. And for the same reasons, I’m thinking that if ever I feel I need to post something on Facebook, then I probably shouldn’t.
This isn’t a sulk or a dig at anyone. I applaud the majority of Facebook users, people like you, who can enjoy it and use it responsibly, in the same way as I applaud the casual drinker, people like you, who can have one glass of wine and then stop.
So knock yourselves out Facebookers, enjoy. And of course to many of you we will find a way to stay in touch using more conventional means. If you enjoy the blog you will subscribe to it, and if you don’t enjoy the blog then you won’t have to wade through any more of my status updates. And if a relationship withers because we are no longer connected on Facebook, then it probably wasn’t a relationship worth caring about anyway. Beautiful isn’t it?
And when I feel I can behave myself and use Facebook responsibly, then I will be back.
PS/ England are now 57-4, Pietersen out, do I have time for one more update?