For a long time I fought against it, resisting its siren call even though it seemed as if everyone was joining in the party, having fun, making me feel quite left out of things.
But eventually I succumbed and took out a Facebook account, or whatever it is one does to have a presence in that particular segment of the ethereal world. Naturally, I was accompanied on that journey by one of my children, as on my own I could not have achieved anything requiring technical expertise of any kind.
But woe is me, I am new to the game and keep making mistakes. I thought it seemed simple enough, just upload your pictures, make some comment, press ‘like’ here and there, and Bob’s your uncle. My grandchildren do it with the greatest of ease, so why can’t I?
I was warned by my Facebook mentor (i.e., my son) not to breach Facebook etiquette, not to impose myself by commenting on topics that were evidently not intended for me, not to flaunt my grandmotherly knowledge in the face of young people who are interested solely in communicating with their peers, etc., etc.
It is, in fact, quite an eye-opener to see what is posted on Facebook by the people who have consented to be my ‘friends.’ One gains a real insight into what is going on in their minds, what their interests are, and how they relate to the world and the people around them.
Some of the younger members of my ‘Facebook family,’ as I like to think of it, are constantly posting jokes (sometimes rather horrid ones), setting quizzes, or finding puzzles for others to relate to. I say ‘relate to’ because on Facebook you don’t just solve a puzzle, relate to an item, or laugh at a joke, you ‘like’ it, or ‘comment’ on it, or even ‘share’ it, i.e., post it for all those people with whom you are connected can see it, and they in their turn can like, comment, or share, as the fancy takes them. It’s a bit like an enormous spider’s web (and it makes you wonder who or what is the spider at the centre).
In addition, some of my friends seem to regard Facebook as a platform for airing their political views, and are constantly bombarding me with messages designed to reinforce their view (but actually have the opposite effect). But I take it in a good spirit, as it at least shows a high level of involvement. After all, lethargy, indifference, and non-involvement are the true dangers to our society, aren’t they?
I have tried, really I have, to keep to the rules delineated by my Facebook mentor, but I haven’t always been successful. I have ‘liked’ too indiscriminately, I have actually commented on something I shouldn’t have, causing confusion and dismay in various realms, and I have shared something that caused me embarassment in turn. I have even managed to mislabel a picture I posted, because of my failure to comprehend the oh-so-simple instructions, and have made myself look a complete idiot.
But now, totally without any volition on my part, a message has gone out to all my Facebook family, telling them that I am cleaning up my list of Facebook friends and if they want to continue to be my friend they should tick a box. Two people ticked it. I’ve never been so humiliated in my life. It almost took me back to my schooldays, when I was always among the last to be chosen for the netball or hockey team.
But I continue to receive the messages as if nothing has changed, so it looks as if the request to ‘clean up’ my list was just an empty threat. Ah well, so be it. At least I’m still in the party, even if a bit of a wallflower.