It's been a few weeks since I've updated this site. The main reason is because I've been busy with work and having a life but the other reason is because I just haven't been using the internet as much as I was recently and the irony is, this has caused me to have a bit of a rant which I must share... on the internet with my cyber friends.. and people I don't know and will never know!
A curious situation has developed and I'm not sure how I feel about it! It appears that the minute you stop using social networking sites, in particular Facebook, then you are instantly forgotten!
I'm not saying that I've been dumped by every friend I know, that would be tragic but I certainly feel as if I'm being shunned in some way; and what is worse, I feel like I have no idea what's going on in the world, but the truth is; I just don't know what's going on on Facebook and because of that I feel like I've been shut in a very dark room!
It's not that long ago when there were no such things as mobile phones and we had to telephone people from our house to arrange to meet up.. who uses house phones anymore?!! I have one, I know I still have one as I checked the other day and I found it under a pile of magazines and dust. It's more like an ornament than a useful form of communication.
The last time a friend rang me on it was probably December 2011, but only because she'd lost my mobile number. It still rings on a daily basis but the person at the other end of the phone is automated and is rambling on about PPI claims or something! It doesn't exactly make you feel wanted when they don't answer you back and keep interrupting you... how rude!
I used to meet friends at Greys Monument in Newcastle on a Saturday to go shopping. We would arrange to meet up a day or two before but if one of us was held up there would be no way of telling the other person. They would just have to wait, and perhaps after 2 hours you would presume your friend wasn't coming.... OR, you would use a telephone box!!! I remember those as well! You would shut yourself in the tiniest enclosed space, struggle to hunt through your bag for your address/telephone book & phone your friend to see if they were on their way!
Aw, I lament the demise of the address/telephone book!
In all seriousness, who, can honestly 100% say they know the telephone number of anyone else other than their parents off by heart?!!! I don't!!!! Actually, I think I still remember the number of an ex boyfriend but only because it was seared into my memory so I could filter his calls when he started stalking me after I broke up with him!!!! Hmmmm, that still makes me shudder!!
We rely so heavily on our mobile phones! I never realised how much until mine was stolen in an Edinburgh nightclub once and I felt like I'd lost my right arm! I couldn't even call my housemate as I didn't know my own home phone number off by heart as I would just go straight to speed dial 'Edinburgh flat' on my mobile, without a 2nd glance at the number!!!
It gave me a wake up call and I now save everyone's number in a folder in my e-mail account. But then again, what would happen if my e-mail account failed?!!!! I think I'm going to have to hunt for my old address/telephone book!
I'm trying to remember the days before Facebook! Again, it's like we're talking 100 years ago, but it wasn't... it was only 5 years ago!!!! 5 years, that's all!!!!
Who remembers MySpace... the most popular social networking site before FB took over?! I remember being convinced by some students that MySpace was so cool.. I just had to join!
I did and admittedly, I found it quite fun! It also got me back into contact with a friend I had lost touch with years before so it definitely had its advantages... but I don't remember needing to go on it 24/7's! I still rang friends and e-mailed them, oh, and I still wrote letters too!!!!
And so, in 2007 the world of Facebook was introduced to me!
I can barely remember the original FB site but it was a lot less complicated than it is now! I remember uploading pictures and coming across schoolfriends who I had always wondered what had happened to them & it was fun finding out!
My first feeling of unease & my first indication that Facebook came with disadvantages was when people that I had lost contact with for a reason i.e. I didn't like them, got in contact with me!!!!
Why would the girl who bullied me at school want to contact me?!!! I mean, really?!!!
The second sign was Christmas 2008. I always sent Christmas cards! In my busiest year I sent 80 cards... I did question sending one to the Great Aunt of my ex boyfriend when I was 21 who probably died in 1996 but her address was in my address book & I didn't want to miss anyone out!
Admittedly I never received 80 christmas cards in return but I always received something in the region of 40-50 and my mantelpiece and windowsills were full of festive greetings.
And then in Christmas 2008 I received my first 'virtual' Christmas card... via Facebook!
It was a waving Christmas pudding with suspicious evil eyes if I remember rightly! Not long after I received another virtual Christmas card, and then another!
Whilst I was furiously writing my 28th real life Christmas card and complaining about getting repetivive strain injury, or the ink of my sparkly silver pen kept running out, Facebook kept delivering these virtual cards! I even got one from someone I'd never heard of... ever! Weird!
I spent £25 on 2nd class stamps that Christmas, but I felt safe in the knowledge that I would receive lots of lovely cards and letters from friends and family telling me the news of the previous year.
But no, that Christmas I received less than 20 'real' Christmas cards!!!!
I put it down to the fact that I had just moved house the year before and perhaps, I hadn't let everyone know my new address, so that Christmas I made sure that my address was on the back of every envelope of every card I sent!
But in Christmas 2009 I received only 15 real life Christmas cards, and over 40 virtual Christmas greetings via Facebook!!
We joke about the fact that the internet, and Facebook inparticular, is taking over the World, but in all seriousness it could actually be stopping people having a connection with the real world and actually hinder communication skills of the younger generation!
I teach 16-18yr olds who can barely imagine what it must have been like without Facebook and Twitter and Bebo. My students can't understand how I possibly managed to complete 2 degrees without the internet to help me. It's inconceivable to them!
They arrange to meet up for break after sessions by Facebooking each other. Their mobile phones are surgically attached to their right hands and if they lose their phone there is all out panic! There would be less panic if the college had been set on fire... as long as their phones are safe then stuff the college burning down!!
Don't get me wrong, I am not anti social networking, I think social networking can be incredibly useful especially with getting freelance work (I got my hen drawing work through FB); I have a very active FB account with 900+ friends (the difference between me and my students is that I've actually met those 900+ people at some point in my life whereas my students have 1000+ 'friends' and have probably only ever met 20 of them in real life!). I also have a Twitter account and I think my MySpace page is still there in cyberspace somewhere but it has come to light recently that just because I've decided to have a bit of a Facebook/Twitter/general internet sabbatical I am actually being shunned!!!
I feel forgotten!!
I'm going to Centerparcs for a weekend away with old friends in a few weeks and when I texted one of them to find out what the plan was for the lodge gang, she told me that everything was on FB... a 'page' had been created especially!
Yes, I agree, it's so easy in one click to access everything you ever wanted to know about anything but what if you don't want to spend your days on a computer?!
I haven't come off Facebook for any specific reason other than over the summer holidays I felt that I was wasting literally hours sat in front on my computer. I was still sat in my PJ's at midday on some days been on the internet for 3 hours!! It was starting to stress me out at how much time I was wasting online when I could have done so much useful stuff, even going for a long walk!
I was also starting to become a bit sick of reading about what people had had for breakfast, or how tired they were, or how annoyed they were that Rylan (who?!!!) had got through to the judges houses on X Factor (apparently he's still in... apparently!)
It made me realise that just last year I was in very real danger of becoming one of those people who based their daily routine around what time X Factor Strictly Come I'm a Celebrity Big Brother was on TV and 'I must update my status to tell everyone that I am sat in my front room drinking wine and eating popcorn whilst watching X Factor & I hope I get at least 6 'likes' for writing that otherwise I will look unpopular'
I managed to step away from the computer before it happened but I could have been a goner!!
It's been a few weeks since I've been regularly surfing the net and I was kind of thinking it would make me feel free and alive, but instead it's made me feel a bit uneasy and it also occurred to me that some people might actually think that I don't care about them because of my lack of FB interaction!!
The other day I popped on just to check my messages (a lot of ex students ask me for advice and reference requests via FB so I can't really come off altogether) and I noticed that I'd been invited to 2 birthday parties!!! The only invite I had was via FB. I definitely hadn't received an e mail or text... or a real life birthday party invitation via the post.... (AWW, I miss the real life birthday party invitations!!!)
So, if I hadn't gone on FB I would NEVER have known about these parties and if I hadn't replied my friends might think I was just being incredibly rude and then they may never invite me to anything ever again!!!! A scary thought!!
It leaves me in a bit of a dilemma. I don't really miss Facebook. I don't miss the constant updating of peoples daily routine (why does no one ever post 'today I got up, did a skydive for charity, came home to find my home taken over by hooded terrorists, was bundled into a car and driven across Europe, escaped down a mine shaft and swam across the English Channel making it back home in time for The Big Bang Theory,).... but I do miss not feeling part of the in crowd!
I feel like there's only one thing for it. I'm going to have to go on Facebook and update my status to say -
'If anyone needs me, wants to invite me to anything, wants to talk to me, just wants to remember who I am or just generally cares about me then please call. You have my mobile number.... and if you think you don't, you probably do. It's the same number I had in 2006 (before FB) and it will probably be in your address/telephone book which is probably in your bedside table under a load of old Christmas cards from me! Thanks now!'
Four reasons to avoid social networking