Sunday, 9 March 2014

Contemplation: Anti-Social Media

[Disclaimer: Some of the comments contained within this post fall under the category "Stating the blinkin' obvious". Disclaimer to the disclaimer: I'm a little bit slow in coming to the realisations most people came to years ago.

Warning: Contains a good few e-cards gleaned from Pinterest.]

Today, to spice things up a bit, I drafted this post from the cosy confines of Costa Coffee. Years ago when I was drafting my first novel (the one I sent off to four agents and for which I had four rejections but I’m not dwelling, it was an experience!), I spent countless hours in that very spot (by the plug socket and beneath the fiercest of air-con vents) looking out on the world Redhill.

Anyway, this is all fairly inconsequential but as with most thoughts that pass through the cotton-wool-ball that is my brain I felt fit to overshare it.

This past week I made the somewhat spurious Lenten promise to abstain from having a live presence on Facebook. No status updates, no posts on friends’ Walls, no Liking, no Sharing.

Coming off Facebook is a fairly fluffy Lenten promise to make, I admit. Giving up chocolate would have been more straightforward but so cliché. But the FB abstinence does serve a purpose.

On a good few occasions in the last seven years of me being on the aforementioned Social Network, people have alluded to a family member that they know 'everything' about my life from Facebook.

When this happened most recently, in defiant, defensive response I promptly altered the privacy of my Wall posts, and set about beginning to remove my Facebook footprint.

For me, Facebook serves a small handful of purposes: 

1. It keeps me in touch with family and friends living in the Antipodes or other far-flung places (such as East Sussex, or Reading); 2. It keeps me involved in daft banter with the people I see more regularly, especially my rock choir friends. This does of course seem slightly gratuitous when I see those beauties every Tuesday night (and sometimes we do post to each other while we’re in the same church hall, pews away from each other... naughty naughty...) but it makes me feel part of a little group; 3. As a single lady living alone, it keeps me from feeling completely isolated. (And even my witty repartee with myself runs dry occasionally. No, really it does.) 

But I have come to realise I don’t need to relate to all of my Facebook friends at any one time.

* Incidentally, nobody knows everything about my life. A few people know a lot (!), a lot of people know a bit.

...I admit I may have overshared in the past. Shocker.

{...Well, this is awkward.}

I’ve certainly been Negativity Nellie and Moaning Minnie on the Book of Face (especially where a certain train company is concerned). But in the process of deleting my Facebook footprint**, I found posts from six, seven years ago that I don’t remember writing. Excessive tiredness, work-related frustration, the contraction of various lurgs, contemplations over breakfast, and the regular need for a cheeky vino were all prevalent in my statuses: 

{OK, that's 2007/10-era QB told!}

I read these posts back with the benefit of hindsight and think now, what was their purpose? Who truly needed to know every last facet of my life? And besides, who wanted to? Personne.

{Guilty as charged.}
More recently I have tried to restrict my posts to short, and hopefully moderately comical, utterances, with the occasional sharing of the outcome of a BuzzFeed quiz, or a Goodreads review, or a photo of a grammar fail or a camel, but again I find myself reading back and thinking, who cares?

Yo, QB, read up:

If people truly want to know what’s happening in my microcosm of a life, they'll ask. (Or, they could read this blog. I’m making no apologies for the quirky brunette; this is my platform!) 

I am currently more vocal on Twitter but that 140-character limit keeps my diatribe to a minimum. (And, Pete J, @quirkybrunette is indeed my Twitter handle! :-) )

Just before I signed off from Facebook for Lent, I received a comment from a friend asking if coming off Facebook would cause me pain.

A good question and fair.

Hmm, no, not in the sense that coming off wine, chocolate and coffee caused me pain six years ago when I gave all three up for Lent. The timing of this decision coincided with my father’s sixtieth birthday/retirement party, for which I was stone-cold sober, declining birthday cake and falling asleep on the sofa around midnight. (Sorry, Pa QB, I’ll try harder to be more fun for your seventieth!)

I came off Facebook entirely -- deactivated the account, the whole kit and caboodle -- a couple of years ago for Lent. This time I haven't deactivated my account, I'm still aware of friends' goings-on, and still using the personal messaging function -- but I think that may defeat the object***.

Another friend (because despite my prevalence on Facebook I occasionally interact with people IRL!) also asked me how I'd cope given I'm one of the most prolific Facebookers she knows. 

That is a worry! And also another good question.

This Facebook abstinence has made me reconsider my online presence.

Am I a bad friend if for the next six weeks I don't press Like, or comment, on your posts or photos (even though I love them in real life)? I hope not.

***And am I a hypocrite for keeping my account active, using the PM function, and yet not leaving any trace of my being on my Wall or anyone else's? OK, I suspect, yes -- seems a bit creepy now I come to think of it. Big Sister is watching you.

** Incidentally, unless one installs some sort of script to one's browser, it is nigh-on impossible and very time-consuming to remove all past statuses, which is a lesson in itself. Still, I'm working my way through them gradually. And boring myself rigid in the process.

So from hereon in I plan to self-edit on Facebook much more. And that's a promise.

(I make no such promises about this blog, though.)

qb xx

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