Wednesday, 31 December 2014

It's Not FB; It's Me

One small step for rabbitdom.
I’m about to leap into social media sacrilege.   I’m breaking up with Facebook.  There’s no ideological, political basis behind this decision.  It’s not even because the ads drive me crazy or I have to scroll through miles of ‘suggested posts’ for updates from my nearest and dearest.  It’s to counteract becoming invisible.

OMG! you say.  And does she put tin foil on the windows to stop the CIA hearing her thoughts?

Pipe down, you.  There is no psychosis here.  But I’m happy to explain if you stop interrupting me.

(Interrupting her?  I haven’t said a word.)

 You know, people can have a raucous laugh, swear like a pirate, dress like a clown, dance in public, knit outrageous socks, and still be hiding in plain sight.  You see this a lot with introverts and middle children, not to mention former therapists.  Oh, that’s me three times over, isn’t it?  I wrote about my own problem with invisibility nearly two years ago here. Haven’t made any progress, it would seem.

Invisibility doesn’t always come with lack of attention.  Humans have a great capacity to gaily interact with, but never see you.  For example . . .

When the Butler and I moved north several years ago, we thought entertaining was the way to make new friends.  It took us a while to realise that people were happy to eat his cooking, drink our grog, sleep in our beds if the need arose, but were  slow to reciprocate, if they reciprocated at all.  A few brazen souls asked us to give respite hospitality, as if we were a B&B.  An offer we readily declined. 

Those type of spongers can be quickly kicked to the curb.  Or kerb, if you live in the UK.  But if you do invisibility well enough, your close friends may believe that what they see (or don’t see) is real.  I once started a friendship during a time of relative smooth sailing in my life, not so much so in the other person’s life.  I did what good friends do, not considering what was or wasn’t reciprocated in my direction.  Then one day, I gave into a wee moan about something or the other.  No beating of breast or gnashing of teeth.  Just a wee moan.  This person made it clear that having a rough time wasn’t in my job description. 

Oh my!

Friendship implies more than one person at work.  If someone keeps their needs below the surface, that isn’t an invitation to pillage the friendship.  Yet with some people, if you don’t establish early on that you have normal human needs, then you’ve missed the opportunity to ever do that. 

So what’s this got to do with Facebook?

I used to have great friends, 3D friends, flesh and blood people who existed in the real world.  People with ethics and morals, some who even went to church, for fecksake.  Maybe having me around, put a splash of devilry in their lives. 

Something’s changed for me the last few years, though.  People who used to meet me for coffee, who cared about what happened in my life, now live only in Facebook photos, too busy for even the most decadent dessert.  Far away friends who once wrote often, now answer emails with, I follow you on Facebook!  as if we’re not supposed to have any conversation more intimate than what we’d post in a public status update.

It’s not that I blame Facebook – virtual reality destroying normal social interactions – any more than an alcoholic should blame an off-license for their own addiction.  But it’s so easy to be invisible on social media.  Facebook’s a constant exercise in Show & Tell.  I post an update.  You hit like.  I share a link.  You hit like.  I post a photo, you hit like.  I’ve noticed other people actually have conversations following their posts, but on my page, that rarely happens.  It’s Like Like Like, unless I post something real about what I’m feeling.  Then everyone ignores that little crossing of the faux pas threshold.  Even when I announced I was leaving Facebook, the most commonly used word was, vicarious.  My life, someone else’s entertainment; my invisibility complete.

And I don’t blame my Facebook friends for that.  I don’t blame anyone.  It’s very much like when the Butler started making our bread – the stuff in the shops tasted insipid after a while.  

As an ex-pat, I’ve had hundreds of moments in life when I needed someone who wasn’t family to step up to the plate and do something out of friendship, not duty.  Parties, funerals, pub crawls, covering my ass, birthdays, illness, bare faced truths, lies to the boss, dips in the ocean, scrambles up mountains, listening to dreams and fears and hopes.  These are the real things in any life.  These are the things I remember and miss.

So 2015 is the year I’m going to look for what’s real, both for me and from the people who would be my friends.  The swearing like a pirate, dancing in Tesco aisles, creating outlandish knitwear – none of that’s going to stop.  As to the rest of me, the invisible me, we’ll see what shows up at the door, won’t we?

1 comment:

  1. Lora, I totally get this. I used to use FB all the time, but now only look on there once a week just to keep up with.... people I only correspond with via that site. Let me tell you something. 5 years ago i moved away 250 miles from the seaside town where I'd lived for 9 years. Last year, I went back for a visit. I arranged a pub night where I could meet up with everyone who i was just fairly friendly with. Some of the people who regularly 'like' my status updates and photos on FB didn't even bother to turn up, despite my having travelled 250 miles by train to see them all. They probably lived 5 or 10 minutes walk from the pub. Yet as soon as i was home there they were, 'liking' my status updates again....!!!

    What 'like' actually means, half the time, is 'I want you to think I am doing my bit socially, so you will think well of me'. I much prefer Twitter. it's more genuine, and more cosmopolitan.