Take Me Back To A Simpler Time

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Facebook, even though I have an active personal account and I also regularly use the site to plug my blog. Perhaps I should think twice before I have this little rant, but always the one to jump in headfirst and think of the consequences later, here goes…

I’ve been a member of Facebook since 2007 and have been on Twitter since 2009, apart from a brief period where I decided to leave Twitter, determined not to get sucked into another social networking site.

Twitter bothers me less than Facebook because I actually find it can be quite useful for professional networking and also for finding out what’s going on locally and whilst Facebook is increasingly being used by businesses – with positive effect – the site sits quite uncomfortably with me as a personal user.

You wouldn’t think this to look at my profile because I update it regularly, so why do I feel this way? Well, I’m not always too sure because I’ve never had a really horrific experience with Facebook – you know those stories you hear about where someone gets sacked for skiving off work but then updates their status accordingly, thinking no one from work can see it – that kind of thing. I just think a lot of how I feel comes down to the fact that I’ve been on Facebook for nearly five years now and I actually can’t imagine life without it – a revelation which truly appals me.

Now, let me just try and redeem myself a little bit here – I don’t, by any stretch of the imagination, spend hours on Facebook of an evening. In fact, I don’t spend hours on it at any time of day, I just tend to pop on and off a lot, more so now that I have a smartphone, which makes the site far more accessible. If I’m out and about and have a few minutes to spare whilst I wait for someone for example, I’ll think: “Oh I’ll just have a look on Facebook”. But why, oh why, do I need to look at what’s happening? Nothing will have changed – it will still be a collection of people posting either their every brainwave as a status update or a selection of photos from a boozy night out (I’m not saying I have never been guilty of this myself, by the way). Can’t I just use those few spare moments to do something productive instead??

“Do we really need to use a website in order to maintain friendships with those around us?”

Although I can’t really imagine it, I would love to go back to a simpler time when Facebook didn’t exist, when we could call or meet one another and catch up on what’s going on in each other’s lives, rather than having a spy on someone’s profile and then making our own assumptions on the current state of their life. Without Facebook, there would also probably be less tensions in friendships and relationships, as people wouldn’t be able to see posts and pictures between other people and think things like: “So they went on a night out and didn’t invite me?”

I was at a conference with work last week, which was actually about how social media can be used to assist in continued professional development, and it was stated that on average, 80% of the people on a person’s Facebook friend list live within a 50 mile radius and the speaker then backed this statistic up with the statement: “So, Facebook is a global tool but it is mostly used locally to sustain physical relationships.”

If this statement is true, it’s a scary prospect. Do we really need to use a website in order to maintain friendships with those around us?

I really admire those people who rarely use Facebook or, even better, have no profile at all. Like a true addict, I would love to be free of this dependency I have and have thought many times about deactivating my account but you know what I’m scared of? I’m scared of missing out on hearing about ‘events’ that are going on around me and I’m scared that I’ll lose touch with quite a few people because I’m not as easily accessible. But then I guess there’s the argument that if they really wanted to get in touch, then they would make an effort to – with or without Facebook.

Apologies if this comes across as a bit of a bleak, ranty, Facebook-bashing post! I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic… What do you like/dislike about Facebook? Can you imagine a life without it?! If you’ve never joined the site, do you feel like you may have missed out on anything?

mumturnedmom
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15 thoughts on “Take Me Back To A Simpler Time

  1. Katabasis says:

    Facebook has been a regular object of study for me for some time now.

    I agree with people like Jonathan Zittrain and Evegny Morozov that as a result of Facebook and similar technologies, the nature of privacy has changed dramatically; unfortunately our legal and behavioural mores do not reflect this.

    Instead of the concern being about one’s private details (many of which are easily found anyway if one were to hire a private detective), what users *should* be concerned about, but are not, is what some call “mass dataveillance”. Its less about *you* and much more about the patterns that can be detected in the data you – and crucially, *others like you* – hand over willingly to facebook etc. If you’re unwaware of these patterns, it hands ‘mass dataveillers’ like Facebook enormous power.

    Also, even though you might not visit Facebook, Facebook still visits you:

    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/10/18/1429223/facebook-is-building-shadow-profiles-of-non-users

    Facebook have denied it. Frankly I don’t believe them. Their “social graph” data is possibly the most valuable database in the world right now.

  2. Nick says:

    People don’t daydream anymore. Sat in the pub waiting for a friend, on a train, waiting for a bus, in a queue at a supermarket, on the toilet, in the park, even on holiday sat by the pool… Every spare minute when we should be thinking about nothing in particular we are messing about with our smart phones, usually reading completely irrelevant information that we don’t really care about or even retain. When did you last daydream?

  3. Jo-Jo says:

    Well you know I how feel about the evil facebook?!. I agree with Nick, people don’t daydream anymore nor do they notice beautiful scenery whilst on a train or a passenger in a car because they are too busy with their fiddling on their phones. I love meeting up with people speaking face to face, and Im sad to say that some of my oldest friendships (20 years +) have been destroyed by facebook, people will simply refuse to communicate with each other unless its through facebook, well hey, Im not playing!!!!

    • Katabasis says:

      This is important as you emphasise here – that it is fundamentally a choice. Its easy to blame a lot of things on social media yet we have a choice in not just whether we use them but how. Whilst its becoming increasingly difficult to do the former, the latter is still viable.

      There was a debate a few years ago about whether Google is making us “smarter” or “dumber”. Ultimately it isn’t a debate, because it is fundamentally a *choice*. How you choose to use Google can make you smarter and more creative, or it can completely dull your intellect and creativity.

  4. Abi Burlingham says:

    Hi Jenny, I resisted Facebook until about 2 months ago, with all the usual reservations. I have to say, I love it! However, I only have around 30 friends – my best friend, family, and fellow writers who I had already built up a relationship with on Twitter. I don’t accept any friend requests that fall outside of this band and I post once a day on there. I find it gives me more intimate contact with friends on there – and these are people who live a distance away – and also great access to links that other people post. I’d hate it to get out of hand or become some ‘gossip fest’, but this way works for me… and, because of how I’ve decided to use it, I don’t spend too much time on their either.

    • jenieveve says:

      Hi Abi, you did well to resist Facebook for so long! It does have its benefits – it is good for sharing things and maintaining contact with people, I just don’t like to rely on it too heavily for that purpose, I think it can be pretty easy to become lazy! 🙂

  5. Mummy Tries says:

    I have a love/hate relationship with FB too, but certainly for me coming off altogether isn’tthus answer. I have a lot of overseas friends, and am able to connect and communicate frequently because of it. In theory I could text or email, but fb makes it all so much easier and less time consuming. Very thought provoking post! #theprompt

    • jenieveve says:

      Since I first created this post, I have also come to the conclusion that coming off Facebook altogether isn’t really a solution. I’m now taking the approach of actively limiting the time I spend mindlessly scrolling through my news feed when I could be doing something more productive. I agree it is very good for easily connecting with friends. The key is to make Facebook work for you and not become consumed by it, I suppose! Thanks for stopping by #ThePrompt 🙂

  6. Sara (@mumturnedmom) says:

    I also have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I rarely post on my personal profile and mainly fight with my page (FB and its blooming algorithms!) but I do spend far too much time reading my newsfeed. It is such a ridiculous time suck, and I am considering deleting the app from my phone. But, like Renee, I do use it to keep in touch with people, especially now that I am overseas, and I use it a lot to keep up to date with local events etc. I couldn’t really be without it. Interesting post, and I love the comment from Nick about daydreaming. What an excellent point. Thank you very much for sharing with #ThePrompt x

    • jenieveve says:

      I have deleted the app from my phone before but I always find myself installing it again as I decide I’d like to share a pic or something and find it too faffy to upload using the browser on my phone! It certainly is useful to be able to discover local events using Facebook. Thanks for hosting #ThePrompt, enjoyed linking up this week! x

  7. tracey at Mummyshire says:

    What did we do before social media? It’s a question asked a lot but I think we had our own form of social media, called talking to each other! I too have a love/hate relationship with it. It’s used so much by our school network, all of the activities or reminders are put onto it so it acts as a fabulous community tool, however I can also spend time goggling at other people’s perfect photos. I’ve reduced the amount of ‘friends’ I have on FB and in fact that has helped me to engage with it in a different way, so only the people who I really do have as friends are in my group, and as we’re living all over the country/world it is a good way to catch up and keep in touch.
    I do worry about my children and their growing up with FB, how to manage off line relationships is complicated enough without having to deal with online ones, too. I do think in some respects social media has made all our lives more complicated!
    Very thought provoking prompt
    #ThePrompt

    • jenieveve says:

      Thanks for stopping by Tracey, I often wonder what we did before social media and what life would be like now had Facebook never come along! I agree it has its great as a community tool and for keeping connected with what’s happening in your local area. I think the key is to try and find balance so that we don’t get sucked in to mindless scrolling – it’s a work in progress for me! 🙂

  8. John Adams says:

    Like you I use one Fb page to promote my blog and have another one for my blog. Where Fb differs for me is that there’s an international element to my family so it’s easier for me to keep in touch with certain relatives and vice versa. As a parent (or rather stay at home dad) I also use it to keep in touch with the local parenting grape-vine. I dislike the fact I use Fb this way, but it is very useful. As for friendships, I tend to keep them real and I will be encouraging my kids to do the same, no matter how old fashioned that may be! #ThePrompt

  9. jenieveve says:

    I think your approach to keeping friendships real – and encouraging your children to do the same – is a wise one, John! I don’t yet have children, but I would want to try and encourage them to spend more time nurturing their friendships offline than online. I think social media has definitely had a significant effect on the way we manage our relationships with others. It’s easy now to think you know what’s going on in your friends’ lives simply by the posts they share on Facebook and I think in some cases, people reduce personal contact with their friends as a result because they assume they are connecting, simply by ‘liking’ a friend’s post, for example. The art of conversation and catching up over a coffee shouldn’t be replaced by a thumbs up on Facebook ;-). Many thanks for stopping by #ThePrompt

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