Facebook….friend or foe?

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Facebook….friend or foe? I’m undecided so perhaps a Facebook fast will help me to work this out.

I remember first joining Facebook some gazillion years ago when FriendsReunited was its biggest competitor and you could post your holiday snaps without fear of your boss seeing them. Back then I accepted friend requests from everybody and anybody including a few random (and quite questionable) American frat boys, presumably on a mission to make as many FB friends as possible.

And at first, Facebook was a fun, frivolous and fascinating website where I could catch up with old school friends and laugh at embarrassing photos of myself pissed and posing. But fast forward a few short years and it can now feel like a competitive online environment where I’m inundated with information, updates. and advertising. Who’s been on the most exotic holiday? Who’s children are the most beautiful/clever/amusing? Who’s business has the most Likes? And fundamentally, the all important one…who has the most Facebook friends?

My own compulsion to share my daily routine, constant whereabouts and general musings with my Facebook family is draining. This is keeping up with the Jones’ to the extreme. Weekends and holidays are documented in detail with a series of check-ins, photo uploads and status updates. ‘Abbi Ayers is at Science Museum’, ‘Abbi Ayers is pissed with 4 others – at the Jolly Farmer’, ‘Abbi Ayers is pulling her hair out in a ten mile tailback on the M25’. This overwhelming need to share everything from the mundane to the momentous is addictive and infuriating.

If I’m honest, I ‘facebook’ (as such an adjective is now acceptable and fully understood) because when I take my kids to museums, I want credit for my parenting prowess. I facebook to show that I still have the semblance of a social life and can ‘party hard’ after a few pinots. And sometimes I facebook just because I’m looking for sympathy, kinds words and compliments. But then again, doesn’t everybody?

We all have those FB friends who update us with their inner most feelings and emotions, wearing their heart on their virtual sleeve for all to see.
“Having a terrible day and may have to jump off a bridge later”
Facebook sometimes feels like an awkward dinner party, a tense coffee morning and a bad date rolled into one. Social media needs clear cut social etiquette; otherwise I remain confused and concerned about how best to respond to suicidal status updates.

Then there are those that update you with their every move throughout the day, checking in everywhere and anywhere. Check-in at Nobu – you’re cool! Check-in at Tesco – you’re a fool!

But it is my own obsession with Facebook that irks me most. With my iPhone at the ready, I can check-in, post pics and wax lyrical anytime I want. All too frequently I find myself in places and situations thinking, I could put this on Facebook.
Why, why, WHY?!

Then there’s my tendency to check for Facebook updates throughout the day. I read an article recently that said 48% of Facebook users (aged 18-34) check the website as soon as they wake up, with 28% doing so before they get out of bed! Maybe I’m not alone in my obsessive FB behaviours but when I find myself ignoring my kids to look at photos of other people’s kids and updating my status in a traffic jam, it’s time to concede that enough is enough!

So I’m starting a Facebook fast. I still plan to do interesting things, take photos of my family and keep in touch with my nearest and dearest, but I will refrain from documenting the details online. I will delete the FB app from my iPhone and will steer clear of my PC to achieve absolute abstinence.

And chances are, if you’re reading this blog (as a result of my shameless plug on Facebook), you too could do with a detail detox.

7 responses »

  1. I can sympathise with much of that. Definitely cure yourself of the obsessive addiction first. But, like food, FB should be manageable – set yourself some rules/limits, and then enjoy it. And to extend the analogy, you should allow yourself to enjoy a nice wine and fine dining on a regular basis – just stay off the junk food and definitely stop the constant browsing on the stuff that has no nutritional value! x

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  2. Hi babe,

    i can agree with this wholeheartedly! I cant quite get my head around it either, but it is driving social behavior and I think will do from now. It’s a strange compulsion and yes when its pointed out like that is quite ugly to see. Why do we feel the need? What I also find strange is its not a true depiction of your life most of the time just what you choose, as you say keeping up with the Jones’

    I obviously have my marketing reasons for using it, I have tried segmenting the two in the past, but it seems everyone is interested in being friends just not a ‘fan’ ! Argh !

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  3. It’s true! Ever since I got my smart phone I am always fiddling with something or other! I’m going to stick to real life and give myself set Fb hours.

    Nice writing – much better quality than a status update!

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