Tag: Facebook

I am a lady, except in Facebook Messenger

Last night I had a weird thought about swearing. I’ve written about swearing before, about the fact that I don’t swear more than I did ten years ago yet everyone else seems to (or that is the impression I get). In fact, I don’t swear much at all. When I do let out the odd expletive, it is rarely a biggie. I am a middle-level word swearer and usually only when I am driving.

My children tell me off for saying ‘I can’t be arsed’. or ‘fart’. They are not normal. They tell me they never swear. I’ve never told them not to. They hate me swearing and they appear to hate swearing themselves. I never was a big swearer before I had them, in fact I haven’t changed. My ‘bad’ / ‘good’ habits have obviously rubbed off on them. I don’t object to swearing. I think it is completely normal. It doesn’t turn me on or off. It is just what it is. I have lots of friends who swear. This hasn’t changed me. Again, I don’t know why. I’m quite a susceptible person normally. I have some friends who swear big words. I even have some friends (you know who you are and I love you dearly) who swear the big words in every sentence. I’m not a very angry person so perhaps that is why I rarely swear. But I think that my swearing habits, for whatever reason, are incredibly moderate by 21st-century standards.

The crux of this weird thought is that so long as I’m not driving, I do swear when I type, particularly in Facebook Messenger. I don’t swear hugely often there, but I do swear much more often than I do in the real world. I type the odd ‘fuck’, or, because I am lazy ‘FFS’, or even ‘FML’. I also freely type ‘bloody hell’, ‘shit’ and perhaps ‘crappity crap’. I can be a complete potty mouth in Messenger. Why?

Message to my mum – no rude words here though

Why do I find it easier to spurt forth an expletive through my fingers than through my mouth? Is it because it doesn’t feel so bad if I can’t hear it? Is it because my children can’t see my typing? I’m not sure what the answer is. Swearing doesn’t come naturally to me, normally. It might be because I find written / typed communication far, far easier than spoken communication. The need to swear then must be in me. It just doesn’t use the same channel as it does for everyone else. This is all guess work. I don’t know why typing ‘shitty poo’ for me is easier than saying it.

Well all I can say to to this is I have no conclusion to this weird thought but I think I need to fucking swear more often, apparently it is healthy and a sign of intelligence and I could do with a better mental health and I am reasonably intelligent, most of the time, some of the time. Oh FFS FML!


The sadness of defriending

Previously, I’ve blogged an awful lot about Facebook and what it does for me. I’ve also blogged recently about a pathalogical need to be liked, which I seem to be afflicted with. Today, I am thinking about both Facebook and being liked.

Just now I happened to notice that someone has recently ‘defriended’ me on Facebook and my reaction is to feel terribly sad. While I was cooking dinner, I was wondering why I hadn’t heard from this person for a while and so I looked her up. To my shock, we are no longer ‘friends’. I never knew. I didn’t notice it happening. I feel so sad.

My response since then has to worry that I’ve said something bad, stupid, annoying or just been an annoyance in general (I’m rather good at that, I fear). I’ve tried but I can’t think what I might have said specifically to upset this person. I don’t see her anymore. Her child and one of mine used to be classmates. When our paths used to cross on the school playground we always had something to talk about. I like(d) her. So why does she no longer like me? And, more importantly, why do I care so much? Her reasons might not be that deep. She might just consider that since we don’t see each other we don’t need to stay connected.

A couple of months ago I noticed another ‘defriending’ and as with this time, I became quite bothered. This wasn’t a person I had ever met. She was someone I ‘met’ on Mumsnet a few years ago. Our paths had crossed online in our mutual grief over losing a baby. We were Facebook friends for months, years even. Now we are not. I don’t know why. It wasn’t my decision.

A while before that I spotted yet another ‘defriending’. Again, someone I had ‘met’ on Mumsnet. We’d both had babies in November 2009. I had thought we’d got on really well, ‘online’ at least. We nearly met up once. What did I do wrong? I thought she was lovely.

Years ago, shortly after I first joined Facebook, I was ‘reunited’ on Facebook with an old school friend. A couple of months later he defriended me (perhaps my first ‘defriending’). This was back in the days when we  could count our Facebook friends on one hand. I was so upset that I actually messaged him to ask him why. He was very polite in his reply. He explained that since we didn’t see each other he didn’t see that it was important that we kept in touch. I was gutted. I respected  his decision though. I was upset nonetheless and I still think about it.

There are others. I’m not sure why I notice  them. I lost another school friend after we fell out over politics. I had thought we’d been having a healthy debate. She obviously disagreed. I was also defriended by a family member over politics. That stung a lot too. That made me reconsider the way I express my passion for politics online. I have since toned it down.

I value all of these people who seem to want to be ‘friends’ with me

But am I strange in caring so much about people I don’t see deciding that they don’t want to have a connection with me anymore? I’m not sure why it stings so much. I think there are people who aren’t so bothered. I know people who regularly have ‘clear outs’ of Facebook. I’ve never done that. In fact, I’ve never defriended anyone. I couldn’t. I like people, even those who might vote for UKIP or support Donald Trump. They have their reasons. They are still in need of friendship and people in their lives.

I think I need to develop a harder skin though when it comes to people deciding it is Bye Bye Becky. I’m not to everyone’s taste and That Is Ok I guess. That is a hard thing to accept. Surely, I’m amazing!

I just want to say to the most recent loss, not that she will read this, that I’m sorry for whatever it was that made you cut off contact with me. I miss your statuses, even if you don’t miss mine.

I’ve no idea who Elie Wiesel is but I will end my mumblings with his words. It might not be quite true (love is very important) but friendship marks a life at least equally as deeply as love.

Wise words from Ms Wiesel

What type are you?

This is a weird thought I’ve just had in the bath. When I say ‘type’, I mean ‘type of Facebook user’, by the way in case that isn’t clear.

That addictive social media beast

That addictive social media beast

The problem with having a weird thought in the bath is that I either have to write it in steam somewhere so I don’t forget it, write it in bubbles somewhere so I don’t forget it, or leap out of the bath and find my laptop. Today, I had to opt for the third option. So here I am, wrapped only in a towel, furiously getting my weird thought from head to data with some furious typing.

This woman, like me, has weird thoughts in the bath

This woman, like me, has weird thoughts in the bath

Anyway, back to the weird thought that had me leaping. I was remembering in the bath something my mum said to me the other day. She was talking about a Facebook post of mine where I had said somewhere in the comments ‘I hope my mum isn’t reading this’. She informed me that, yes, she did read it and yes, she was amused / shocked by my referring to Donald Trump as a giant flaccid willy (and, yes, I have no doubt my mother will be reading these words too as she tells me she reads all of my blogs – hello mum!).

So initially I was surprised she’d read my comment as it was quite hidden amongst comments to a status update and also, she is, or she appears to be, hardly ever on Facebook. I was wrong. She’s what is known as – a lurker (see below)!

My weird thought then is: there are a number of types of Facebook users and these are truths so there is no good trying to convince me otherwise, or presenting me with alternative facts. Actually, most people are unique (most, that is, I stress) and do not fit to stereotype at all. That is how it should be. Be different. So take this weird thought in the spirit of jest it is intended.

The Constant Life Is Amazing Poster 

Also known as, the narcissist. This person is very happy with themselves. Good for them. I’m happy for them too. They often have the most friends (3,000 at least) and just love life. I hope they really do. They also think they look AMAZING. Indeed, they do. Lucky pigs!

The Constant Life is Amazing (or is it?) Poster 

Also known as the pseudo-narcissist. This is the person who posts lots of selfies as above, and also uplifting ‘life is ace, look at me, I’ve lost weight’ posts and ‘I look amazing now I’m single’ posts. However, the truth is, this person is deeply troubled and has been harshly burnt by someone they loved. They want their ex-partner to see their posts, or friends of their ex-partner to see their posts, and feel regret that they let them go. I worry about this person. I want to hug them. I want to say ‘don’t keep doing it’ to them.

The Bitter / Life’s a Bitch

This person is one step beyond the above. They are very, very bitter about life. They have been deeply hurt and it is taking years to move forward and every bad thing that happens to them means that life-is-out-to-get-them. It might be, I’m not sure. I worry even more about this person. They need a real hug and / or counselling. They aren’t getting the help they need.

The Perfect Parent

This is the person who only posts cute family photos (usually on the beach or getting at one with nature), adverts for organic baby food, share if you love your son / daughter or share if you’d put your son / daughter before yourself in a towering inferno type scenario. They aspire to be the perfect parent. Little do they know that not everyone is perfect and it is normal to have crap baby-sick-in-hair days.

The ‘I am angry about Brexit / Trump’ Political Activist

I admit freely I do fall into this category. If there is a Venn diagram, I overlap this category. I have had some very, very heated debates on Facebook about Brexit (not so much Trump, I think I used up too much energy about Brexit). I’ve lost friends over it. This Facebook user is very angry and they want to change people’s views. Little do they realise that those people whose views they want to change won’t see their posts thanks to the logarithms at play in Facebook that means that you only see what you already agree with.

This man makes me angry on Facebook

This man makes me angry on Facebook

The Emotional / Suggestive

This person posts things such as ‘Life’s a bitch, I hate the world’. Someone responds with ‘What’s up?’ and they will reply ‘PM me’. This, I find quite annoying, because being the nosy person I am, I need to know what they are upset about but I don’t want to go to the length of private messaging them to find out, especially if I don’t know them that well.

The Liker

This person scrolls through their phone every hour or so and likes everything. I have one liker. You know who you are if you are reading this, although I must admit you’ve stopped liking so much recently. Perhaps you don’t like me so much.

The Post Everything

This is me, I have to confess. I do use Facebook a lot to tell the world about my dinner, my day, my art, my children’s eccentricities, my own eccentricities. I share articles and quotes. I am a Post Everything Facebook user (with an overlap into Political Activist – see above). I’m the most annoying type (and I have been told so on numerous occasions). I’m not sure what the psychological reason for being this type of Facebook user is. I think these people just want to be liked.

The Lurker

This is my mum. This person rarely post anything. Yet they read EVERYTHING. These are the ones you need to watch out for. Remember that the lurkers will see your comments about Trump being a large flaccid willy so think, next time, before you post (note to self).

The world is one big shadow

I’ve recently been reading a lot about the idea of the simulacrum for my art degree research. Don’t stop reading. I’ll explain.

The simulacrum (in Latin: likeness, similarity) is defined on the Internet as:

  • an image or representation of someone or something
  • an unsatisfactory imitation or substitute

This definition implies a negative notion. Traditionally, in the West at least, the simulacrum is seen in a very derogatory way. It still is. However, it was the likes of thinkers such as Nietzsche and Baudrillard who studied the idea in more depth. Deleuze, of course, went a step further and decided it was A Good Thing. But this blog will look at the negative aspects only and how they relate to our current version of reality.

Jean Baudrillard with his very small cat

Jean Baudrillard with his very small cat

Plato’s allegory of the cave is perhaps the most famous example of simulacra: people here were chained up in a cave for their entire lives and only saw shadows of real objects, believing that the shadows were reality. Only the shadow of things existed for these prisoners in the cave. That was their reality. This is a simulacrum: fake reality which often seems more real than the actual reality. Since Plato roamed the earth, philosophers had been trying to move away from this simulacrum, to become the one prisoner who leaves the cave and discovers reality.

Those poor prisoners, thinking Big Brother is reality

Those poor prisoners, thinking Big Brother is reality

Before Jean Baudrillard came along, everyone believed that the simulacrum was entirely two-dimensional and only one aspect of reality. Baudrillard argued, however, that the simulacrum was inescapable and a integral to our current reality. The simulacra were as real as reality, he believed.

I think this is quite forward thinking for his time (1980s). He said all this before the days of social media and reality TV. To Baudrillard, simulacra stopped being projections of reality, they became a separate body of symbols which exist irrespective of reality. These symbols, or shadows to use Plato’s term, became more important than the objects casting them. We covert objects and status not for what they are, but for what they say. We own that particular pair of shoes because of what they say about who we are.

Baudrillard argued that we could no longer describe what was good in objective terms. We could only describe goodness relative to what is bad. This is most evident in the politics of the last 30 years: you know who I am talking about I am sure but I would argue that the likes of Thatcher and George Bush started this trend.

Next we should consider the hyperreal. This is the generation of the simulation of the real – more a copy than an emulation. Science fiction loves this idea. Think Inception, The Matrix and The Truman Show as three examples. There are many other examples in literature too. Have you ever dreamt of electronic sheep? Did you burn your books at 451 degrees Fahrenheit? That is, assuming you are an android or a fireman – a shadow, or simulacrum, of a ‘normal’ human.

Reality TV, which some would argue is now on the wain, gave the next wave of simulacrum. In the early 2000s, we lapped up reality TV as if we were desperate for an escape from the real. Reality TV was created to imitate and parody life. However, it became a hyper-dramatized version of reality. We refused to see it thus. It became, in our view, a mirror of society. It became a mirror of a society we wanted to belong to.

I would argue that we are currently in a new stage: a stage of accepting that reality TV is a complete farce. We don’t readily admit to enjoying reality TV. However, in it we fail to see that our current  constructed reality is similarly a farce. As social media got its paws on our lives, we started to imitate reality TV through social media: the drama, the humour, the selfies. Take a look at Facebook now and look at the statuses that you flick through with your finger. How much of that is a mask of people’s reality and how much of that is genuine? How much is a projection, or a ‘shadow’ (Plato stands grinning).

Fast forward to the year 2017. It could be argued that reality has now almost completely lost its substance. Donald Trump is the human embodiment of that (yes, him again). Think Donald Trump and add Twitter, think #alternativefacts and add post-truth (one of the newest entries into the Oxford English Dictionary). Where has reality gone?

The mass media has become the frame through which we see what we think of as reality. But it isn’t reality. Simulating is not longer faking. It is what we think of as existing. But we are faking it as much as they are. We are all faking it.

Social media has now become all encompassing in our lives and has even further accentuated the trend. Many of us, most of us in fact, live behind the facade of our social media masks. We have a ‘self’ online that is not our true self. Our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram self is a virtual version of Plato’s shadow.

The lovely Facebook

The lovely Facebook

Do we even know what our real self is now, I wonder? Will we ever get it back?

Perhaps we should just accept the current ‘reality’ for what it is and not mourn the old reality. The future will change things whether we like it or not.



What art and Facebook have in common

This is the weird thought I had at 2.05am when my youngest child woke me up with earache and the need to tell me that he didn’t enjoy the film he had seen at school that day (something to do with wolves and snow from what I could gather).

The little angel that woke me up last night

The little angel that woke me up last night

When I returned to bed, after dishing out the usual cuddles and Calpol, my mind wasn’t ready to settle back down to sleep so it started to think about the big questions of existence: life, Facebook, friendships and time.

That addictive social media beast

That addictive social media beast

I’ve had weird thoughts about Facebook before, and this is related to those. This thought is about how Facebook has achieved something truly great. For all the  criticism it gets for time suckage (yes, it is good at that) and inane babble (yes, it is very good at that too), I believe that it has had one revolutionary consequence. It has disrupted the natural flow of change and time in our lifetime. A natural flow that has existed since man first stepped out of his gorilla suit and discovered fire.

This man has just said goodbye to his best friend because he's moving to another cave

This man has just said goodbye to his best friend because he’s moving to another cave

‘What on earth are you on about?’ I hear you all cry, in unison. Well, let me explain.  As we go through life: birth, babyhood, toddlerhood, childhood, school days, college, university, work, parenthood, work, retirement and death, people come into our lives, we build up relationships with them, then we or they move on. That is the natural way of things. We make friends at school. We all leave school. We eventually lose touch. We go to college or university. We make friends. We leave. We lose touch. We work. We make friends. We leave. We lose touch. Getting to know people and saying goodbye to people are part of the rich fabric of life that we just have to get used to. The joy of friendships and the grief of leaving is part of what normalizes life. Beginnings and endings are natural. It is just the way it is. Some people do stick with each other for life. That is quite rare though. And that depends on both parties staying in the same location for their entire lives. Most people drift in and out of each others lives like blobs in a giant interconnected Venn diagram.

However, Facebook has changed this. Facebook allows for those Venn diagrams to overlap and grow bigger. Facebook has helped to turn the world into one giant rhizome of interconnectedness. Our relationships are now like cauliflowers rather than spring onions. Thanks to Facebook, virtual friends can become real ones, and real ones can become virtual ones. This process can swap over and repeat and repeat. The important thing is that the friends you leave behind now will remain in your Venn diagram. They will never leave. Saying ‘goodbye’ isn’t quite so devastating as it used to be because you will see the people you leave behind at your leaving do, later, on Facebook.

How our friendships work in the post-Internet age

How our friendships work in the post-Internet age

Facebook has therefore successfully ruptured the path of ordinary, everyday, universal existence (you can tell I’ve been reading a lot of Deleuze recently). This way has existed for so long we aren’t really quite sure how to handle the change yet. What has that got to do with art? I hear you ask. Art aims to rupture, break free, find a point in the disorder and chaos of time and do something amazing.

Therefore, Facebook is like art. Facebook has achieved an amazing thing. It has ruptured. It has created a new ‘sensation’.

I’m now going to post this to Facebook to all those friends I’ve had in real life, I now have in real life, and I will later not have in real life: a whole great big blobby Venn diagram of friendships.


It’s taken me 20 years to realise I actually quite like politics

This is a weird thought that I’ve had over the last few days.

In 1994, I graduated from the University of Exeter with a BA (Hons) degree in Economics and Politics with European Study. I scraped at 2.1. I think I got 61%. I had worked really hard to get that 2.1. I think my intellectual ability then was a 2.2. but with hard work and determination I pushed myself into the 2.1. bracket.

Hope Hall, Exeter University

Hope Hall, Exeter – where I learnt what a demand / supply curve was

From 1995 to the present day, I have barely used my degree for anything work related (I’ve worked for a locksmith, taught English, worked for a Japanese translation service and worked mostly in academic publishing).

This is me on graduation day

This is me on graduation day

Since 1994, I’ve questioned why I did a degree in Economics and Politics with European Study when my interests lie in other areas (art). When asked about what I studied at university, I’ve since been embarrassed to admit ‘err, well, economics and errr, politics’ as if it is a socially unacceptable for someone creative to study something so dry.

At the time of graduation, I probably had a great deal of knowledge of how economics work on the macro and micro scale and about the politics of the UK and Europe. But over the last 22 years, that knowledge has sat at the back of my brain, gathering dust. I have had little need to draw on it.

Every time we’ve had a general election, and when Mrs Thatcher died, that knowledge has been allowed to come out of hiding for a short while and inform my opinion (for good or for bad) on the events of the day. I’ve read the occasional economics or politics non-fiction popular read such as The Armchair Economist, Chavs, Freakanomics and Superfreakanomics. I’ve kept vaguely abreast of political events via twitter, facebook, Radio 4 and the Guardian. It ends there.


One of the few economics books I have allowed myself to read

In 2012, I started a Foundation Degree in Contemporary Art Practice at Shrewsbury College and any interest in politics or economics went further back into my consciousness. I reasoned: art and economics do not mix. They are not easy bedfellows. I choose art. I reject economics. I became even more embarrassed by my non-creative degree.

Then more recently, David Cameron, in his wisdom or otherwise, decided to call a referendum on membership of the EU. Thanks to him, that part of my brain that quite liked those dry subjects woke up. I’ve spent the last few months getting more and more obsessed with the question: should Britain leave the European Union? I’ve become fascinated with the arguments on both sides and the people who have advocated both sides. I’ve asked: why do they think that way? Where do the divisions lie? Why are their divisions that correlate with age, class, family, education, geographic location and employment? Why does political leaning not come into it? Why? Why? Why? I was completely (and still am) seduced by the remain arguments (Project Fear, as the Leavers coined it). Now I am questioning whether this is because, as many of the current commentators have argued, I am a borderline member of the no-liberal chattering Guardian reading classes? Possibly. More than possibly. In fact, yes. But that’s not what I am discussing here. What I am interested in here is the resurfacing of my interest in politics (and to some extent, economics) that has come about by the referendum. I’ve become an avid Radio 4 listener and I even watched Question Time today.

David Cameron

David Cameron

Now, I hope that there isn’t a limit on what I can be interested in and that the room in my brain for art is not being squashed. My overall hope is that current events will feed into my creativity in some way. I think it will. My current fascination is with facebook. I am utterly gripped by how events have unfolded on facebook and I have spent far too much time than is healthy living there rather than in the real world.

We all have between 100 and 1,000 friends on facebook. We live in our own little social circles in that virtual world. But those circles, like a giant every-growing Venn diagramme, are linked. I suspect that every UK citizen could probably cite identical experiences of how their friends have responded to the referendum result since 6am Friday morning. It goes something like this:

Everyone: shock.

Remain: horror.

Leave: joy.

Remain: anger (including insults to the leavers).

Leave: indignation.

Remain: desperation (signing a petition asking for a second referendum).

Leave: superiority.

Remain: ‘But look what has happened already.’

Leave: ‘This is democracy, shut up already’.

Some Remain: ‘Let’s be friends.’

Other Remain: ‘They lied to you!’

Some Leave: ‘Let’s be friends.’

Other Leave: ‘They are up their bottoms.’

That takes us to today. I’ve become even more of a facebook addict than I was before Thursday (and I have always been a big fan of facebook). But this time in the name of art, economics and politics, which I now realise are the best of bedfellows for me, and about time too.


What is it that makes me want to share EVERYTHING about a great experience on Facebook?

This is a weird thought I had on Sunday night after posting the following to Facebook:

I know I’ve been a bit in your face these last two days but please indulge me for a few more hours. I’ll be quiet probs from 10am tomorrow for about a week. I hope I haven’t annoyed you all too much… If so sorry

That addictive social media beast

That addictive social media beast

Over a period of 48 hours on my recent trip to New York I posted a total of 72 times to Facebook (only twice to Twitter) with comments, check-ins and photographs. This count begins from the point of setting off from our house and ends upon arriving back at the same house. This count doesn’t include comments and replies to posts. I can’t imagine what number that comes to.

An outsider may question whether I actually saw anything of New York since my face and fingers was almost permanently attached to my phone. Why wasn’t I able to enjoy my experience without feeling the need to share with everybody?

I’ve been questioning my motives since Sunday. Was I just boasting? ‘I’m in New York and you are not!’ I don’t think that is it. I hope not, at least. Was I bored? No, certainly not. I had a brilliant time. Am I addicted to social media? Perhaps a little, but that’s not enough of an explanation since today I’ve only posted twice to Facebook. I think the real answer lies in the artist in me who just wants to share great things. I see something amazing,  ordinary, or extra-ordinary and I want to share the joy I feel at seeing those things with everyone I know. Social media allows me to do that in an instant. I get a kick out of seeing a blue sky over the New York skyline. I feel joy at drinking a very potent Cosmopolitan at the end of a night. I feel happiness at wandering around China Town. So I want to give some of that feeling to the people I care about. I know I’m not the only person who feels this urge to spread the joy. There are a few of us out there.

New York cocktails - a must share with friends

New York cocktails – a must share with friends

However, perhaps I need to consider the fact that not everyone wants to have a piece of my astonishment at the weird and wacky world we live in thrust upon them. But I’m not sure I am able to stop. My virtual friends, as I’ve expressed before, are as valuable to me as my real ones so I do want them to be with me in some small way when I have great life experiences.

I think that I also get something in return from sharing. I’m sharing because I am selfish. I get joy and release from the act of sharing on social media. There has been some research into the ‘oversharing’ on social media phenomenon. It functions in a similar way to therapy. One of the great things about therapy is that you can let spew your thoughts, anxieties, and issues without judgement and immediate response. Facebook is a bit like therapy. Generally, there is no response and if there is a response at all, it isn’t immediate. By which point the oversharer has had the boost to their happy hormones that they so badly desire.

I think that oversharing is also is like looking in the mirror, which we do for confirmation of the inner perception of the self. By sharing something of the self that might in the real world be keep concealed, the oversharer is seeking reassurance.

It is also argued that the oversharer is desiring a level of celebrity. I am certain that I fit into that category. I’m not sure that is a good thing to admit. It seems shallow. But if I didn’t want celebrity I wouldn’t be writing now in an online forum, I’d be writing it in a little notebook kept locked under my bed.

These people want fame - who are they?

These people want fame – who are they?

So I apologise dear virtual friends, but the oversharing will most likely continue. You are my therapist and you make me feel good.


Am I a better virtual friend than a real one?

This thought was provoked by reading this article in the Guardian today. Here, Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett argues that social media such as Facebook and Twitter sucks away at time for many people. She feels she is ‘trapped’ by social media because without it, she’d lose contact with many of her friends who exist mostly, and in some cases exclusively, in these forums. What she objects to is the dross of wedding and birthday photos, dinners, breakfasts and trivia that she has to wade through to get to the meaningful stuff. She seems to be suffering from social media fatigue, she says, and she feels that she is not alone. However, she states, she can’t give it up entirely.

In some ways I relate to much of what she says. I also spend more time than I’d like (when time is extremely precious to me) scrolling and clicking and reading on my phone or my laptop. I wake up every morning and spend 15 minutes catching up and clicking. I click and read. That reading leads to more clicking and reading. I post and repost. This all takes time. However, if it wasn’t for Facebook I wouldn’t have come across this article in the Guardian in the first place. I wouldn’t have spent 7 minutes reading it. And I wouldn’t be spending time now writing about it. So Facebook has sucked time from my day today but it has provoked a thought out of me, so that is a positive.

My friends do need to know when I am passing my favourite roundabout and the only way I can tell them is on Facebook

My friends need to know when I am passing my favourite roundabout and the only way I can tell them is on Facebook

My friend who gave up Facebook a while ago is still Facebook-free and shines with health and vitality. Although I admire her discipline and strength, I couldn’t do it. Just as I couldn’t give up cheese and red wine, or  chocolate. And, in fact, I don’t want to give up these things. After recently reading this book I considered again giving up Facebook. But I just can’t and I don’t want to. I wrote here not so long ago about how Facebook reminds me of the social life of university. But there is more to my love of Facebook than that.

Thought provoking about social media - but not enough to give it up and live in a hut

Thought provoking about social media – but not enough to give it up and live in a shed

This blog isn’t about the time suckage of Facebook though, it’s about the friendships I have on there and how those friendships differ to those I have with real, solid people I see in the real world. I have frequently come across the argument in the real world that virtual relationships and virtual friendships (albeit with real people) are not as meaningful and profound as real face-to-face ones in the real world. I disagree and I might make myself unpopular by saying this. I would even argue that for me at least, I find it much easier to relate and converse with people online than I do in real life. I find social situations quite a challenge, especially one-to-one situations (I really struggle with those – give me two other people and I’m fine but just one other, that’s hard). I am far more interesting online than I am in real life. In the flesh I can be really quite boring and not a great conversationalist. I feel great pressure to be witty and interesting.

Aghhh run away!

Aghhh run away!

I find being witty through my fingers much easier than through my mouth (please, no comments, let me indulge myself). So my argument is: virtual friendships can be as deep (if not deeper) than real ones for socially-awkward people such as me. I do have lovely real friends and I value their friendship very much. But I value the friendship of my Facebook friends just as much (many of course, exist in both worlds).

Facebook is a place for sharing your dinner photos

Facebook is a place for sharing your dinner photos

Facebook has done many marvelous things for me. It has got me back in touch with many long-lost friends from school and university and I have and continue to enjoy the lively, engaging conversations I have with them online. I have enjoyed seeing how their lives have turned out, seeing photos of their partners, children, cats, dogs, and even their dinners. Before Facebook, as I went through life I gathered friends and those friends, as a result of the natural turn of life, gradually faded from my sphere of activity as we moved on in our individual lives. That is natural. However, Facebook has brought many of these friends back to me like shiny, happy boomerangs. They have come back into focus and this I treasure.

Facebook also allows me to post my weird blogs and share my weird thoughts with anyone who is willing to spend some precious time-suckage time on clicks to my blog from Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for that, dear friends! Facebook lets me share my paintings and videos and get valuable feedback so I can improve my art practice. It has also allowed me to vent, cry for help, and help others who are venting and crying for help.

So tonight I will drink my glass of wine, eat my cheese and converse with you on Facebook. See you there.

My favourite wine glass



Why I love Facebook

I was having a debate with my husband yesterday about a mutual friend of ours who has given up Facebook. She gave it up for one month to see if she missed it. As the month ended, she decided that she hadn’t missed it and has now given it up entirely.

I argued with my husband that I couldn’t imagine giving up Facebook. There is a lot of debate in the world today about the evils of Facebook but I see it as a good friend in my life. Facebook does a number of things for me: it replaces my need for soap operas (I can’t remember the last episode of EastEnders I saw), it has brought me back in touch with friends who before Facebook I had lost (and for that I am extremely grateful) and it works to amuse and entertain me and, I hope, allows me to amuse and entertain in return. I also use it to promote my art, gain feedback on my art and annoy friends with my art. Finally, I also use it for news (the ‘end of the news’ type news, that is).

Friends lost and regained thanks to Facebook

Friends lost and regained thanks to Facebook

Then I had a a weird thought: Facebook is like university. Facebook is everything I loved about university. Being at university for me was like living in a non-virtual social network (weirdly ironic, I know), particularly when living in halls of residence. What I enjoyed about the university experience was the instant access I had to friends – I could pop into their rooms for a quick chat (instant messaging), leave a note on their door (leave a note on their wall) or just go to to student bar for half a cider and a packet of wheat crunches and listen to, and perhaps join in on, the conversations of acquaintances (scroll down my news feed).

The joy of finding a phone message left on your door at University - are those days now long gone?

The joy of finding a phone message left on your door at university – are those days now long gone?

Living in halls is a sociable experience, Facebook is a sociable experience. You don’t have to make a huge effort to be sociable in either location. It is there, omnipresent. Access is instant. When I think of the gulf of time between leaving university and logging on to Facebook for the first time I think of a time of relative solitude.

Too much time on our hands (perhas the time we'd spent on twitter now) - hand-written silliness from 1993

Too much time on our hands (perhaps the time we’d spend on twitter now) – hand-written silliness from 1993

I have no doubts, however, that the university experience is very different now to how it was in 1990. Perhaps now the virtual and real world are so close as to be almost identical.

My first year halls

My first year halls

In 1990, we had one phone between 20-odd people (a Mercury phonecard was a prized possession). We hand-wrote our essays. We read books in the library. Parties were organized by word of mouth. TV was viewed in a ‘TV room’ (and Twin Peaks enticed forth a large audience – the student bar was always empty on Twin Peaks night).

Prized possessions in the early 1990s - where are my Mercury phone cards now

Prized possessions in the early 1990s – where are my Mercury phone cards now

Facebook fills that need in me for instant friendly ‘banter’ or ‘bantaaaar‘ as the youngsters of today would say.

I could never  be like my friend, I could never give it up.