I have been falling in and out of like with Facebook for some time. When it first arrived on my computer screen I loved it. I was a stay at home mum and feeling very isolated from the world. It was a whole new outlet for my gripes and groans and a way of knowing that I wasn’t alone. A bit like Mumsnet but with people I actually knew. I was back in touch with some old school friends and I had got to know a few mums locally as well, so it was all rather fun and shiny. I enjoyed thinking of things to say and liked trying to be witty and getting “likes” and comments on my posts. It was all good. A few years on from there and my “friends” list was a bit out of control and, rather than it being a distraction from the mundane routines and naptimes, it had become an obsession. I was constantly checking for updates and to see if people had replied to my statuses, comments and photos. I took drastic action. I had a cull (got rid of some people) and cleared out old posts and photos. I was having some difficulties with a friend and Facebook seemed to just fan the flames of the unpleasantness. The shine was definitely gone. The “cull” sparked further problems and I decided to take an enforced break. It was bliss. A small part of me missed seeing updates from far away friends but I tried to stay in contact using real methods of communication.
I gradually got back onto it when my uncle passed away and my cousin was using FB to try and organise photos and arrangements for the funeral. I quickly found myself back in the clutches of the obsession and was again constantly checking updates and, I’m ashamed to admit, became a little bit competitive with the ex-friend. It was all very silly and I am genuinely embarrassed that I got sucked into responding like-for-like. I stopped it as quickly as it started – trying to be the grown up, better person. But since then it has always left me feeling a little nauseous. I don’t like the way that it manages to inveigle its way into so many aspects of life – seeing your friends “likes” of peoples posts that you have never heard of; seeing adverts for things that you have briefly looked at on other completely independent websites; seeing who has become friends with who (why haven’t they “friended” you yet it seems to scream); being asked to “like” every website that you go to; and feeling compelled to share pictures of your dinner. It has it’s plus points – staying in touch with people from school and other previous lives. But my friend list largely consists of people that I am within walking distance of and some that I would rather cross the road than speak to.
So where’s the conundrum? Every time I look at it I am left feeling either inadequate, annoyed, envious; upset or all of these at once. I rarely laugh any more at posts – the same old, same old jokes and “funny” mottoes – and am rarely glad that I logged on. So, surely I should just be able to click the “deactivate” button and put it out of my mind. Right?
Ah, if only it was so easy. The problem I have is threefold: I am a member of several “groups” that I like. My book club group are fab and we use FB to arrange meetups and share funny (genuinely funny) posts. Having said that we don’t share as much as we used to and I wonder if others in my group are equally disenchanted?; I have 3 cousins, none of who are local to me and it is the only way I have of seeing what is happening in their lives; selling stuff – I quite like the selling pages.
So the options I have are: cull – again. I can get rid of all the people I am not actually “friends” with in reality and just look at the people I care about. My issue with this is that it causes so much ill feeling with people who take it all very seriously. I am not in the business of upsetting people. Even people I don’t really care about; I could just use it for the groups and selling pages as I have a separate app for those, but the temptation is still very much there to login and look at the main newsfeed. And every time I do I feel annoyed. I don’t want to feel annoyed.
I have read a few articles written recently by people who have spurned Facebook and how much better their lives are without it. I am envious of these people and admiring of their backbone and willpower. But I think a small part of me is a fifteen year old girl and I don’t want to be the only one not at the party. Even if the party is boring and full of people I don’t really like. What if someone I like arrives and has some exciting news? What it I get invited to another party while I am at this party? (Ok so the party analogy is pretty crap as we all know I hate parties. But you see what I’m getting at. I hope.)
So it is a conundrum for me to ponder some more. Meanwhile, Instagram and Twitter have caught my eye. What can be the harm in that?