Ah school holidays; time for a non-school-related post. Following many conversations with friends this summer, and a recent article that reckons half of the population of this wee country is a member, I’ve chosen a topic I know we all have an opinion about - the good and the bad of Facebook. I’d just like to preface this post by saying it’s all personal opinion and experience (as opposed to my posts about education where I like to think I at least have some credible research that supports what I’m saying). You might find that I don’t actually discuss things about Facebook (FB) that really piss you off, for example, advertising.Yeah, I’m not going into the issue of advertising because I really don’t notice it that much (I have an amazing ability to ignore ads AND I dislike shopping). Anyway read on at your peril; hopefully you won’t be offended J
Things I love about FB:
- Living vicariously through other people’s travel photos. I especially like seeing nicely-composed pics of exotic locations and my friends enjoying themselves in said exotic locations. You do not have to use a fancy SLR camera, although I think the photos need to be at least not blurry most of the time for them to be effective. Travel photos are a bit of a tease, as there’s probably no way I’m going to be able to travel to and see everything that my friends have seen in my lifetime, but that’s life and thus I just simply enjoy viewing those of you who get to snuggle tigers in Thailand/swim in the Dead Sea at Christmas.
- Cute/funny pet photos. Apparently this is not everyone’s cup of tea, although HOW ANYONE COULD NOT LOVE A KITTEN PHOTO IS BEYOND MY COMPREHENSION. I am happy for my newsfeed to be inundated by these. Cats, dogs, bunnies (can you cuddle a horse?) - post away.
- When friends post links to cool websites/music/videos. This happens less often that I’d like, unfortunately. Some of my friends are great at this; I guess it takes a bit of time/energy…also, other social networking sites allow for such things in an easier way e.g. Tumblr, Pinterest.
- Amusing status updates. Some of my friends are very smart and witty and should be encouraged to post more often. It’s hard to be funny though (I’m the first to admit that) and sometimes you get people who think they are funny but aren’t. But that’s OK - I reckon just assume you are funny (unless you are offensive - then see R below) and post away. We will either be laughing with you or at you; both are good.
- Controversial status updates, and the comments that get made on them. This doesn’t happen often, which is probably just as well because conflict can be a bit stressful, and I generally try my best to avoid getting involved it in it; but when it’s between two of my friends then I am more than happy to observe. A bit of debate is healthy (whatever ‘healthy’ means). I may occasionally participate, although I try to save my energy for young people with more impressionable minds, hah.
- Political posts. See F above. Also, see R below. I’m pro-political posts; as long as you are happy to discuss/argue, then post away.
- Cute/funny kid photos. This is a could-go-either-way one. Kids are awesome and tend to do lots of funny things. Also, kids + pets is a winner. I do think though that there are some consent issues with pics of children; in 10-20 years time is your child going to be happy that you posted a pic of them in their undies on the internet? I probably wouldn’t be… And like V, these things can be overdone.
- Dissection and recommendations. For example, books, films, music, food. Pics are good; food items, especially desserts, can be beautiful. Also, if you’ve found something so tasty/mind-blowing that you think everyone else should get in on the action, then please say so - recommendations are always a great thing.
- Being able to see what you friends on the other side of the world are up to, because you don’t know when you’ll get to see them again. 10 years can have gone by since you last saw them, but you know they are still alive and well, and still listening to Guns N Roses. Yay for them!!
- Organising fun dates/catch-ups with friends via the messaging system. It’s actually useful!
- Funky home-made businesses run by friends. So much talent, so many cute, unique items! Also makes shopping for presents easier.
- Keeping in touch with ex-students. I love seeing what young people do with their lives. Can I just say though, that I am so glad that FB and Party Buses didn’t exist when I was 20…
- Games. Scrabble, Tetris Battle, Mindjolt’s Combine and Bomboozle 2 are fun ways to spend your time.
- Random things that I don’t have any special skills (or possibly interest) in but allow me to appreciate your skills/unique interests, for example, gardening. I can’t seem to tame nature in any way myself, but it’s always impressive to see it when other people can grow beans, or some random plant that originated in the Chatham Islands. Making clothes = awesome. Making cakes = awesome. Building stuff = awesome. A random part of a computer you built that is amazingly powerful = awesome.
- Specialist groups like ‘I fucking love science’. I fucking hated science at high school - I really struggled with it (although I partly blame crap teachers and my school for that) but I fucking love science’s posts are pretty cool and I actually read stuff as a result of looking that them. The other day, I found out why the centre of our galaxy “smells like raspberries and tastes like rum”; they get 10 out of 10 in the ‘ability to appeal to an English teacher’ category.
Things I dislike about FB:
- The whole ‘look at how great my life is’ thing/keeping up FB appearances. The while online persona thingy is quite complex. No one wants to look like crap/be a whinger. But personally, I find it quite refreshing when friends are NOT pretending their life is super-happy and together and beautiful. You were on the train and someone projectile vomited into your mouth? That is gross and horrible (but kinda funny) and therefore a welcome break from hearing about how fabulous life is. This is a tricky one though, because I often post photos of holidays and usually I look pretty happy in them - so am I guilty of this? Generally, I look happy because I really enjoy going away on holiday (and who frowns for the camera?)…but sometimes life is stink and depressing and I think it’s OK to talk about that on FB if you want. I guess part of life is learning to balance those ups and downs and I’d like FB to reflect that process. It’s tough to talk about horrible things though.
- Constant posts by people about one single topic. I’m thinking specifically of my two personal non-favourites: The Rugby World Cup and The Hobbit. FB actually grouped posts together for a while there, which is how I survived the RWC, but The frickin’ Hobbit did my head in. About a third of my friends who posted about this topic are Peter Jackson haters (I’m in this camp), a few are Peter Jackson lovers, and the leftover majority are undecided, which is a fairly good spread I suppose. I can’t blame people for posting about what they love/hate...so my question is, why doesn’t FB group same-topic posts anymore?!?
- Finding out a friend is racist/sexist/homophobic/prejudiced in some other particularly horrid way. I am a fairly generous person so I will make allowances - you used a homophobic term and you are under 25? You probably just haven’t really thought about your use of language carefully enough...maybe that’s a bit too lenient/kind of me though; I have pretty much no tolerance for racism or sexism, which this leads to an unfriending. Double-standards? Probably. But you pick your battles, and your opponents, I guess.
- Show-y PDA posted publicly on FB. For example, Wife à Husband: “Happy 4th Anniversary - you are the best husband ever!!” That’s great you think that (although I don’t really understand the criteria…they seem to vary from marriage to marriage) but you could have just told them that in person (and not made all the single people who would like to be in a couple feel a bit stink). Also, assuming FB is around for a while, do I have to see this post every year??
- Too many check-ins. I don’t generally want to stalk my friends, but if I did, you are making it very easy for me. Also, if you check in at a fancy place every day for a week then I am actually able to calculate how much you spent on your holiday…having said that, if you post a pic of awesome place/food item then this is a kind of recommendation and I’m OK with that.
- Unfriending. Once you’ve friended someone, it’s actually really hard to unfriend them unless you can guarantee you’ll never see them ever again. So you can’t unfriend family (although I noticed that a relative unfriended me a while ago, so maybe it’s OK…?). What is useful about FB is you can always put someone on a ‘Restricted’ list and then hide all their posts from your newsfeed, which means you pretty much can’t see each other’s stuff. But some people are dicks and I just don’t want to be connected to them any more.
- Too many baby-photos. This is a touchy one (and closely linked to G), but I’m going to make a call and say that there can be too many. Babies grow super-quickly, and I know you want to capture their development in as much detail as possible. But I’m not sure everyone else does too. We don’t all have cute little ones running around to dote on (for various reasons) and babies don’t actually DO much. Consent issues apply here too (see H), and actually, you can make albums just for you and your partner (or whoever you want to include). NB: It’s totally OK to post heaps of pics if there are lots of kittens in the pics with the baby. Or the baby is in an exotic location each time.
- ‘Life events’. Yes, buying a house is most likely a life event (there’s nothing like the prospect of 25 years of debt to change your spending habits). Having a baby is almost definitely going to be a life event. The death of your partner/child is also definitely a life event…but no-one’s gonna put that on FB; it’s just not fun/beautiful enough. And as for other stuff - it’s actually really hard to know what will be a ‘life event’ until you’ve seen the impact it’s had on your life. So I kinda hate this option on FB. But it exists, so I encourage people to use it for whatever they want, e.g. getting the hire-score in a game, buying a new car etc.
- Hastagging # on FB. It’s not Twitter, you know! No, you are not referencing pop-culture - you are just being unoriginal. Please write a proper sentence!
- ‘Insiprational’ posts. More often than not they are just irritating. I’m not inspired personally by sports-people. Likewise, I find most ‘inspirational’ quotations simplistic and lame. I’ve come to the conclusion that inspiration is pretty subjective. Just be yourself (unless ‘being yourself’ is posting lots of inspirational messages) and you’ll possibly inspire me in some way without actually trying.
- Why has nothing better than FB emerged yet?