Friday, August 31, 2012

Facebook: Fun or Folly?

I've been a member of the social networking site, Facebook, for four years now.  But recently, I've considered closing down my account.


Because what started out as a bit of fun has turned into something that started causing me grief.

It all began back in 2008 when I'd first had a couple of novels published.  I wanted to promote them so I joined another social networking site called, Bebo.  Funny we hardly hear anything from My Space or Bebo these days, do we?  So, I built up a few friends and posted a little.  To be honest, I wasn't all that interested in it and only logged on occasionally.  I think I only ever updated my status a couple of times.

However one day I signed up for a  Facebook account.   I didn't use it and forgot all about it, then one day I got an email message to say that someone had added me as a friend.  It turned out to be a fellow author.  How she knew it was me I have no idea as there was no information about me on my profile page or a photograph.

I then added some of her author friends and some added me.  Then I added a profile pic and local friends started adding me, my number of Facebook friends grew and grew.  I began to enjoy socialising with new friends and old.  It was also a good way to promote my books.

It seemed as if nothing could go wrong...

But it did.  I was surprised how people could leave snipey comments on my wall and my inbox, sometimes seeming to get worked up by trivial things.  I ended up blocking a handful of people.  Things got worse though when I set up a Facebook group that grew so large it had over 1000 members from all over the world.  The aim of the group was to encourage people from my home town to socialise online with one another and we also had regular monthly meetings at a local pub

It was enjoyable to begin with, but then I started getting inbox messages every so often from group members moaning about other members, complaining about various posts at the group, people stirring things up at the group, etc.  In fact everything from bad feeling to bad mouthing others.  For some reason some members seemed to think as I ran the group I was responsible for all sorts of things.  I had messages from men who fancied particular females in the group.  I received messages from women harassed by male members of the group.  Things that went on outside in the community too they contacted me about.  It felt as though I was responsible for the world and his wife.

I decided for my own sanity to leave the group I had created.  Leaving behind a handful of admins who could run the group.  That in itself left a lot of members inboxing me with this, that and the other.  Tittle tattling about other members and stirring things up.  It got me down, from my understanding the group had now split into two since I'd left with two separate meetings planned at two different venues. It will go on with out me.  Mind you, I also received lots of lovely inbox messages too, people telling me how they would miss my posts and what a good administrator I was . But all of that wasn't enough to persuade me to hang on to the group.  I knew I was doing the right thing in letting it go as I've got back into novel writing and go online to chill out, which I couldn't do when I was having so many inbox messages from the group.  I also decided to deactivate my account of nearly 300 Facebook friends and have set up a new profile with just a handful of friends.

The benefits of doing this have been many fold so far.  I now have a bit of peace, no more inboxing with queries and comments that got me down, after all I wasn't getting paid to run the group and now I am interacting with less friends, but select ones that mean a lot to me.  I may add a few more when I've had a think who was on my old friend list.

I think you know when you have too many inconsequential Facebook friends when some suddenly show up in your news feed and you think, "Who on earth are you?"

Facebook is the thief of time.  I used to log on and would get so wrapped up in things that an hour would pass like 5 minutes and there would still be dirty dishes waiting in the sink.

Too much time is spent reading mindless statuses that read things like: "Just going to make a cup of tea!"  Or: "OMG can you believe this?"  The person who posts the latter is usually attention seeking to get others to ask what's going on.  A Drama King or Queen of the highest order.

Most of the comments people say on Facebook would bore us to death if those people made those same comments live in our living rooms or in the pub on a night out.  Yet, we end up pressing that inane 'Like' button to give our approval.

I now spend less time logged into Facebook and feel I am getting my life back. I spend longer doing the housework, listening to music, much more time in the real world than the Facebook one.  My mind feels more peaceful.

That quote, "Facebook: Wasting people's lives since 2004"was true in my case.  Is it true for you?