Ok so there’s been a bit of a kerfuffle about FB manipulating feeds – well they’ve been doing that all along so I’m not overly surprised. I was greatly entertained though when I read an article that started “Scientists at Facebook…”
So I’ve been doing a little social media experiment of my own, on myself. We all know that when we were younger we could remember what our friends ‘phone numbers were, important dates and all sorts of random information needed for everyday life. These days “there’s an app for that” our ‘phones tell us what time of day it is, remembers ‘phone numbers for us, even remembers the numbers of people we don’t talk to! However FB even removes the need for ‘phone numbers – it tells us when somebody has a birthday, if they are going out with somebody, whether they’ve just been dumped, had an argument, got engaged, got pregnant, got married, died or had fish & chips for tea.
This is where we find out that I’m a billy-no-mates! For years my birthday pops up in the corner of your FB screen and you all duly write Happy Birthday, hope you had a great day or words to that effect. Well yesterday was my birthday – but it didn’t pop up in the corner of your facebook. I didn’t get the dozens of birthday wishes of previous years, or those of my friends. I got a few texts, phone calls, well wishes from colleagues and a couple of cards. It was nice to be remembered – so thank you if you did. On the other hand due to lack of FB knowledge and routine of being acknowledged it felt very weird -almost forgotten. Ok I wasn’t forgotten – but the reliance of FB to dictate our lives made it almost feel like separation anxiety. Once the adjustment had been made it was somewhat liberating. No longer at the mercy of – what? I put a passing reference to it on Instagram. I say passing reference – I put up a picture of a cake I’d made and entitled it Happy Birthday To Me – so, not subtle – several likes but only one well wisher.
Like buttons they are way too easy to press and move on. It makes it all so transient. The likes of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – it’s almost like going to an art gallery and walking past pictures going nice, nice, nice, no, no, nice but deserves comment, no, no, nice, bring to attention of somebody + nice. There is no stopping, looking at something, find out something about the person, what is their style, what do they like, is there a common interest?
Yes these social media are great ways of keeping in touch (vicariously) with people you used to know. Previously we’d have gone on through life and every once in a while a stray thought would pop into your head – I wonder what ever became of so and so? Now all we have to do is click, click, click – ah there they are, that’s what they’re up to, that is their life – no need to interact. In a way it almost forces relationships on us that should have wasted away and in some case had wasted away already but for some unknown greedy reason we’re now resurrecting the dead to validate our own selves.
From now on Birthday wishes will be sent via card, call, text or e-mail – because I want you to know that I wish you well on your birthday and not because Facebook reminded me that I should. So now I must go an raid the calendar for dates of friends and family, dig out the address book and start to fill it in with phone numbers.
I may also opt for more of a long form social media – ‘status updates’ may go through a blog rather than the quick quip…