Sunday, 14 September 2014

Facebook, Schmacebook!

What I love and loath about the Facebook?

So the other day I’m on Facebook, grumbling to myself about how a certain someone is constantly changing their profile photo. It feels like every week their putting up a new picture. Why? I barked, to no one in particular. We all know what you look like! I know why, because you want us all to tell you how very pretty you are, well I’m not going to. That’ll learn you, you photogenic narcissist!

Once I’d gotten off my high horse and had a little laugh at myself, I realised, we all use Facebook so differently. In fact, not only do we use it in different ways but also see it as serving a different purposes. From making work contacts, finding old friends, stalking exes, sharing information and marketing, it can be used for all this and more and we’re all meeting in this virtual blank-canvas with very different intentions and desires.

So how do you use yours? Are you an “internet curator”, are you a “selfie slave” or a “politics pusher”. Here’s what I love and loath about how people use this frighteningly ubiquitous platform.  

1. Internet curation
Internet curators – This is my very favourite thing about Facebook. I have a couple of friends who have gotten it down to a fine art, distilling the online detritus out there and posting the most interesting and insightful material they’ve encountered. Often it’s information or material that I would never have come across on my own but nonetheless would still like to read or watch. 

Internet Curators are the polar opposite of those who are constantly telling you about their life and posting pictures of themselves. I find the curators interesting because they are interested. They’re interested in the world around us and go out of their way to carefully select the most interesting articles and videos from it and share them, judiciously on Facebook. More power to ‘em I say.

2. Good vibrations
I feel very blessed to know a bunch of people who, by and large post things chosen to inspire and enlighten. These posts always seem to be so timely and applicable. I have one friend who only posts inspiring quotes and while I wouldn’t want everyone to do that, in the midst of moaning and selfies, it can be a welcome respite.

3. Like, Funny haha
The funnies. It’s painfully rare to encounter a video which really is as funny as people say it is. Most of the time, if I see the usual “Watch this, it’s hilarious” intro I’m already pissed off, assuming it’s not going to be funny even before the Youtube page has loaded. So when someone posts something that does turn out to be as funny as promised, I give them double kudos, triple if it’s smart too, like the photo memes that are going around. They’re punchy, short and to the point, everything I love about comedy. This is one of my favourites. a Jon Stewart or John Oliver clip is usually a sure fire win too.

4. The Good news
Great news – Of course Great news. Who doesn’t love sharing in someone’s awesome news? I’m sure sometimes people share reluctantly for fear of appearing to crow but when news is shared in a spirit of gratitude rather than a tedious humble brag or disguised complaint, (and we all know culprits) it’s always a joy to read. For example, “Uuurrr. So annoying that I have to take my brand new Lexus to the car wash this Sunday. Would rather watch the Oscars #drag”as opposed to “Up yours TFL. I finally got a car. So grateful”. I dunno about you but I like the second person much more (and feel bad I didn’t give them a lift more often).

5. Check you out
Check ins – The jury might be out on this part of FB but personally, I like it. I have a friend whose work takes her all over the world and so, every couple of weeks, she checks in and its cool seeing where she will materialises next. To me, it’s like a very low-key selfie, like, I won’t show you what I’m doing but I will tell you where I am. Which leads me to my first loath

1. But enough about me, what about me
A never-ending stream of photos of you having an amazing time all the time, everywhere. The cynic in me thinks bad thoughts about people who feel they need to let the world know what a phenomenal life they’re having by documenting and posting about it all on Facebook. Some people have HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of photos online. If you’re busy taking photos how present are you to what you’re actually doing? Research shows you’re more likely to remember an event if you DON’T take photos. I’ve had to unfollow a few serial offenders because, grouch that I am, I’m just not interested in a slurry of self-portraits. Even as I write this, I can hear the bah humbugness of it and look, it’s not like I don’t want to see images of my friends having a good time, but every day, all the time? I tried having an Instagram account and I lasted about a month. It was fun at first, finding things to take photos of but I soon tired of it, thinking, I’m bored of looking at pictures of me so God knows what other people think. I honestly can’t see the point of Instagram unless you’re one of three things 1. Super famous 2. Super gorgeous or an artist sharing their work. Otherwise…. Sorry but, who cares!?

2. Have we met?
Friend requests from people I don’t know – A couple of years ago I had a FB cull. As a comedian, you end up friending every comic which turns your timeline into a stream of angst and self-promotion, albeit usually funny. I decided to cull in a very particular and unusual way. I decided to only use Facebook to stay connected with friends. I know barmy, right. But what a breath of fresh air. My timeline went back to people talking about ordinary things not scattergun invites to gigs and complaints about the state of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. 

Personally, I think there’s too much private info on Facebook to share it with anyone other than people you know really well and furthermore, research shows that no matter how many people we know, we can only maintain a meaningful connection with a very specific number, between 150 – 160.  So that’s the number I kept my Facebook friends at, with a strict one in, one out policy, what a bitch.  (I just checked and this is a total lie. I’m currently at 170 – I’m not a bitch!).

3. Politicking
Self-righteous politics – I LOVE that people are passionate about issues but I’ve had to unfollow a couple of people for angry politi-posts. Obviously caring is better than not but sometimes I can’t help but wonder if the extent of their caring is limited to the odd online rant rather than, you know, actually taking positive action out in the, as Tim Minchin calls it, Flesh world. It’s great to be passionate and share knowledge and information about injustices but better than bitching and moaning on Facebook, why not get up off your arris and do something? These political rants are only 50% useful anyways because usually they’re woefully partisan. You rarely see objective or  balanced posts when passions run high. A little digging usually reveals that the situation is often more complicated than it first appears.

4. Playbook
Games. Yawwwwn. Polls telling you what animal you are, what part of the country you are or what type of food you are, are as tedious as a game of chess with all the pieces the same colour. Honestly, every time I see people post the results of these pointless polls I want to unfriend them and I would, if it weren’t for the fact that I love them. But Jesus. Who has THAT much spare time in their day?!

5. FWP
Constant First world problem moaning. – No, no, no. It’s very easy to forget how lucky we are in the “developed” world and that our problems are ones that 95% of the world wishes they had so when FWPs pop up on Facebook, my first inclination and desire is to slap the person round the face with an Ikea catalogue. So someone said a spoiler about your favourite show, man up! You’re still eating this evening though, right?! I know I’ve been a FWP culprit and it’s probably unavoidable because we exist in a different context from those without fresh running water or constant gun fire outside their door. I guess all we westerners can do is remember that our FWP are not really a big deal and that if someone posting selfies or giving away the twist to a movie we want to see is the worst we have to deal with, then life is pretty sweet.  

So how do you Facebook?


  1. A number of my friends have moved away from where I live to other parts of the world. I like posting pictures of changes around town to keep them up to date.

  2. I agree with you on this. I've found myself getting increasingly ruthless with unfriending people now. Especially the ones that are constantly bragging about stupid stuff. I think I've had the same profile picture for the past 2 years, can't be bothered to keep uploading different ones! I don't know how the people that change it every day find the time...

  3. I find it a great way to keep in touch with old friends from places where i used to live, although i agree that some do bombard FB with banal posts . I am interested in what people i used to know are up to now. (thats why i read your blog !!!)


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