I did one of those silly Facebook things today, you know the ones that are doing the circuits. Everybody does them, shares and then inanely ‘likes’ everybody else’s post from the same app without even looking at their results. There are lots at the moment. They will tell you how Scottish, northern, welsh or heathen you are (same thing really). I kept doing the Welsh one until it said I was 0% Welsh! Result! The latest tell which Star Wars/Toy Story/ Glee/ Crossroads Motel character you are. Don’t bother doing the quiz. You’re Benny! This one today, by Time magazine (so it must be reliable!!!) calculated how many days you had spent on Facebook based on when you joined, the number of posts posted and how many minutes you said you spent a day on Facebook. I said 60 minutes a day. I lied. I’ve done every soddin’ Facebook quiz going! (I lie on all of them!) It announced ‘You’ve wasted 97 days 13 hours 9 minutes since joining’. Wasted that time posting 8,314 things to my feed. It didn’t calculate anything in my messages. It may have blown up the app if it had. I’ve messaged gratuitously on occasion! As part of its 10 year anniversary Facebook has made your ‘Facebook movie’ available to share on your feed. It lasts 1.02 minutes! That’s some f**king editing from 97 days!
I’m fairly certain it wasn’t happy coincidence that Time also posted a video feed on how to delete your Facebook account. Top tip for everyone who had wasted time finding out how much time they had wasted: Don’t waste any more time, and delete 97 days of your life in seconds! I actually considered deleting my account before the calculation. I didn’t need a snazzy app to tell me I spend too much time on Facebook and not enough time with real people.
Have I wasted my time?
Facebook has been with me on my 4-year journey through 5 house moves in 4 different countries (if you count Texas as a Republic). It was an easy way to keep in touch and share what I was doing with friends and family (without Facebook I would have had to phone 188 people to tell them I was going shopping to Wal-Mart!). I know most of the people on my Facebook and the ones I don’t it’s because I can’t remember them from school and am too polite to say so. You could say, if I wanted to keep in touch with people I could do so without Facebook but Facebook makes it easy to interact. I was able to share my journey post by post. It got really exciting (for me) when I finally got an iPhone and could do check-ins! Along the way I made new friends, rekindled old friendships, maintained existing friends, had a few casualties and fatalities (the delete is grim!) and I guess I have evaluated what those friendships mean.
I have had some amazing moments with people I haven’t seen since school. Do I know them now beyond Facebook? Would I pick up the phone and talk to them? I don’t even know their numbers but I it doesn’t alter the fact that I have shared the most magical times of my life with them that may have remained forgotten without reconnecting on Facebook. For example, an old friend (I lived across the street from, as baby until I was 9 and went to school with him from the age of 4 until I was 16) rediscovered on fb posted an old school pic. Behind him was the school piano with a tapestry of a peacock on it. I’d forgotten the tapestry. Instantly I was transported back to the hall of my primary school: the smell of the parquet floor on my dirty little hands after an assembly; the hymns I still love to sing as a devout atheist; the special teachers who ignited in me a lifetime love of learning. I might not have seen my school friend other than at a school reunion (which was the reason I joined Facebook in the first place) in 30 years but we were able to message about the memories that photo stirred like it was yesterday. Did I still know him? Did he know me now? Many years ago we shared many of the things that make us who we are. I might not have known what he had done for the last 30 years but he, like many of my Facebook friends, are part of me, the essence of me. I love that aspect of Facebook: the connections it creates or strengthens with people that would have otherwise remained ‘someone that I used to know’.
There is lots of psychobabble research on the effects of Facebook on people. Apparently it can affect self-esteem. That’s bollocks. I for one don’t mind at all if no one likes a status I write or a photo I post. I don’t delete it and pretend I never said it whist sniveling in a pool of my own wine induced vomit because no one loves me! I don’t suffer from any ego driven narcissism based on the number of interactions anything I do on Facebook generates. I never censor ugly pictures of myself!
I post any old shite, me! I look like that all the time! I don’t feel hideously depressed when I log on to Facebook and there are no little red notification flags, or worse, I don’t feel murderous when those little flags turn out to be f**king Farmville requests. There is something sadder than Facebook!!! People apparently feel envious when looking at the online activity (postings, check ins and photos) of those with lives that are much more exciting than those of us who spend too long on Facebook (there’s an irony there I cant quite put my finger on!). Facebook never affects my mood!
I don’t think Facebook is the generator of self-esteem. It just reflects it. Facebook can be the most exciting place to connect and share the exciting life you live or it can be the loneliest place. I might have a modest 188 Facebook friends (I use the ‘Roses are red, Facebook is blue, no mutual friends, Who the f**k are U?’ rhyme when it comes to responding to friend requests) but sometimes you just need one real friend. Equally, surrounded by real people, I have got the most life affirming and amazing interactions from Facebook friends! Facebook can fortify friendships or destroy relationships. It allows for the pretence of friendship and interaction with people who don’t want to be friends at all. They can voyeuristically see what you are up to but never comment and never interact and leave you feeling miserable because you know, if they were your friend, they would. Oddly I don’t get this form people I haven’t seen for decades, I get this from people who have been and who still should be close in my everyday real world. I’d like to delete those people but that would expose the pretence.
People closest to me are not on Facebook at all. Hubby refuses to engage. He travels a lot and I sometimes think it would be easier if he was on Facebook but maybe that would be too easy and something would be lost. I wish some friends were my 'friend' on Facebook though. I spend such a lot of time there without them! I miss them.
Whatever Facebook gives and takes, I am not ready to delete my account and I seem to have missed the point of Twitter. Perhaps I’m too verbose to limit my outpourings to 140 characters per tweet. What I really know is Facebook is no substitute for real life and if I’m feeling miserable or spending too long in a virtual world it is because I need to engage more positively with the real world and find something to do. Now I’m fairly certain if I log on to Facebook there will be a quiz that will tell me what that should be! I’ll be sure to share. Please be sure to ‘like’! (…and scroll past if you are a heartless bastard and want all small animals to die… don’t you just hate those posts!!!!)