I'll admit, I was a real addict when I joined about six (eek!) years ago. I was touring with a theatre show and it became a great way to keep in contact with friends from outside the business. And yes, I was one of those annoying people who updated their status with the most boring minutiae - what I'd eaten for lunch; the fact that I was going shopping, etc. Mea culpa.
Image via www.fun2video.com
Then things started changing and more people started friending me. People who I worked with. I know, I didn't have to accept their friend requests but I thought it might cause problems if I didn't. Don't get me wrong, they're great but the whole point was to use it to get away from work. My work is in the entertainment business and can involve long, hard days -15 hours is not uncommon. Believe me, it's easy to get lost in showbiz.
I was also beginning to find that it brought out a side in me that I didn't really like. Yup, I'm talking about stalking here. It wasn't an issue when I was just friends with folks I knew well but when it's people who I only know through work, I don't really need to know that they enjoyed their lunch with Aunty Ethel or that they're having trouble potty-training their kid. It's about boundaries and it's too easy to over step them on Facebook.
Things started to get really interesting when old school and university friends cropped up. Without going into too much personal detail, the political situation in my country of birth meant that anyone who can has left the country and we're scattered all over the globe. At the time (1980's) there wasn't email etc so it was a lot harder to keep in touch.
I'd lost touch with all my old friends so it was absolutely riveting browsing through their profiles when they cropped up on Facebook. Firstly there was the girl who, for years, I'd thought had killed herself. Seriously, how do you approach that subject? I still don't know what happened or how that rumour started. I'm too afraid to ask.
Then the girls who'd bullied me quite badly at school turned up. I'm not sure why they friend requested me or even why I accepted but there you go. There was a strange moment when I realised that two of them were grandmothers. Grandmothers! Can you imagine?
Strangest of all was the realisation that most of my old school friends' lives had followed a very similar pattern - marry a man who's either a farmer or owns a computer business; if not living on the farm, move to a small town; have two children, the oldest of whom is a boy who loves rugby. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting at all that there's anything wrong with that lifestyle, I'm just surprised how few people deviated from it.
I think ultimately though the main problem I have with Facebook is the sheer pointlessness of it. I'm already in contact with the people I want to be in contact with. We call, we text, we meet up and have actual conversations. Those crappy, affirmational statuses that people are so fond of - 'When life gives you lemons, make lemonade' etc are utterly meaningless. People displaying their asinine political views are not going to make me change my view points, they're just going to confirm that my own ideas are correct.
Image via http://loldamn.com/
My pet hate though is those awful statuses that say 'Share if you're against child abuse/animal cruelty/cancer etc. If you don't share, you don't care' usually accompanied by a graphic picture. Study after study has shown that sharing those things actually makes things worse! Fifteen years ago, people would have dropped their spare change into the Cancer Research collection box. Nowadays people don't donate money because they feel they've done their bit by sharing those statuses.
Most importantly of all Facebook is stopping me from writing. I've got a TV script on the go. I've been told that it's good and I should finish it but this is how my writing routine goes... Wake up early. Decide to do an hour's writing. Tell myself I'll just have a 'quick look' at Facebook before I start. Emerge an hour and a half later with the beginning of a headache and tired red eyes having achieved nothing bar reading meaningless rubbish. Take a break. Do the laundry. Do the housework.
I also want to write more on this blog. I started it for a reason, ie a creative outlet.
I've just checked my Facebook, (purely for the reasons of research, y'know). These are how peoples statuses went. I've edited nothing;
Inboxed dislikess (sic)
B*** earned an achievement in aviator
In the paper today..hope i get to see my Sofia again...
B*** played 2 words in Words with Friends
Ministers who misuse statistics to mislead voters must pay the price | Peter Wilby
I rest my case.
I'm in the process of saving my photos then I'm gone.