Going Facebook cold turkey – the ramifications one year on

About 18 months ago I left Facebook. It was getting in the way of my study, and, frankly, I was beginning to dislike its tentacles creeping through every aspect of my life.

Today I reflect on what it has been like living without a ubiquitous, and, some might say, compulsory social media requirement of the modern world.

For the first few weeks it was awful. I missed hearing about my friends’ events and special moments, and I missed the nonsensical cat gifs and funny stories and news about art events. I missed being part of an FB tribe that literally seemed to know EVERYTHING. It is still hard sometimes to not feel that sense of community, even though it was ephemeral at best.

But I could breathe. My life was mine again. And I lost much of that compulsive desire to SHARE. Not that I don’t like sharing. But really, do I need to show you my awesome lunch?

The sad aspects of leaving Facebook (and I left cold turkey, without any fanfare at all), is that when I have something really good to share, such as my long-sought-after Doctorhood, I can’t. Well, my DH can post about it, but I can’t. And yet, even now I’ve finished my PhD and I have no known impediments to rejoining FB (it takes a small reactivation as I’ve not deleted my account), I don’t think I’ll rejoin.

Every few weeks I read about FB having a stranglehold on our social media interactions and information – the things we share, like, want, desire. They can link to websites you’ve been and target ads to you that they think you might want – I know it’s an algorithm but get out of my cache! I’m not really interested in being a consumer like that. If I want something I’ll buy it, I know when I’m being manipulated, and I’m okay with that. But I don’t need every known website to have my address, DOB, likes, dislikes and private or personal information. Actually, I hate it.

And it’s not changing any time soon. I’ve had to sprinkle important information right across the web. Such an invasion of privacy. Why do websites – with the exception of financial institutions looking after my money – require my DOB? Any website in which this information is purely and obviously for their market research, I give them a false DOB. Often I’m 22 or 102. I have ADBLOCK plus on all my devices that support it (bless you Adblock people), and I regularly clear my cache. Distressingly, though, the email account I’ve had for 10 years is linked to an internet search engine that is clearly moving into the “you want too much information” behemoth. I love this account. I love the ease of having an online mail account I can access anywhere in the world. But I dislike the tentacles that are again creeping out at me.

Yet, here I am, exposing my thoughts to all the world, and I don’t mind this. Why? Because it’s my CHOICE. And obviously algorithms and Big Brother aren’t that clever that they can link my blog to my other social media stuff. Or maybe it’s because I don’t have other social media stuff. But I do. I have Etsy, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and an ongoing online presence. But somehow it hasn’t caught up with me yet. Or maybe it has…

I think the most distressing aspect of all this is that to FB I am only a consumer, not a commentator. For example, I would like a decent dialogue about my transgender daughter, but that will not happen with these big companies. What does it get them? Sweet FA. They are actually not interested in the social interaction possible and the way humans work with other humans. They actively diminish posts from people who rarely post, and INCREASE posts from people who post multiple times per day. Isn’t that a little bit wrong? A bit skewiff?

Anyway, if I want to know what’s happening to my friends (those who are on FB but with whom I interact outside FB) I call them. On that new-fangled device – the telephone. And that, in the end, is why I chose to leave FB. Because no matter how many FB friends I might have, the people who are most precious to me are those whose phone numbers are in my address book. If I have your phone number, you matter to me.


Should I rejoin Facebook?

I’m done with the PhD. I’ve nearly finished teaching. Should I rejoin Facebook or is it all a waste of time, and potentially a bit Big Brother-y?

I’m not sure I really want to go back to that life. I’m doing okay without it. But I have slightly addictive tendencies with the thing should I choose to return.

Hmm. Thoughts welcomed.

Saying goodbye to Facebook

I use FB to keep in contact with friends and family, and I see it as an integral part of my life communication. But the time has come, friends, for me to stop. I have a PhD to finish, and I’ve been spending too long surfing the net, not doing my PhD at all, rather, I’ve been chatting to FB mates, reading interesting articles about nothing in particular, and generally wasting time.

Is there grief at saying goodbye to something integral to my life since moving to Queensland in 2007? Perhaps, and now my daughter is engaging with the site I worry that I will not be able to connect with her in the way I had always hoped.

But I’ve contemplated this for months, and now that I am at full time PhD land, it’s time to get off the time-sucker that is FB. So, this morning, I deactivated my account. Before I could change my mind. And it feels strangely good – freeing. There may be a few withdrawal symptoms though. And I didn’t tell anyone.

Swift and deadly. If people want to contact me, they can. Via email. Or telephone. Or text. Or letter. So, time it is, to say goodbye. Goodbye Facebook. Hello world.

Doing the work, and more.

Here is my FB commentary on what I did today: “Just in case anyone thinks I do no work (partly true), I DID read 2 books and 8 articles today, added to my annotated bibliography on narrative inquiry, converted 10 analogue tape videos to movies and prepared my interview schedules. And taught singing for 2 and a half hours, and had a dentist appointment and washed the dishes and took the clothes off the line. And helped cook dinner and took the dog for a walk.”

I have about another 10 articles to read, and then I will have the magical 50 articles on narrative inquiry methods. Because my supervisor knows that I actually do the work, even if I don’t always let her know I do the work. And tomorrow, all three of my morning students have cancelled at short notice, so I can concentrate properly on my PhD work. This is good. I should knock over the Annotated Bibliography by then, or, at the very least, watch and make notes on about 3 videos, for one of my interviews this Friday.

Today, as well as all of the above, I also found time to read the paper, go on FB throughout the day (I know, I know – promises promises), and during my lunch break (which I always have), watch last week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy, in which a horrible thing occurred right at the end.

Today was a good day. Let there be a year of good days like this one until my PhD is done.

Stymied by common sense! No Ebay for me today.

Right, so the continuation of the story about the coffee pot is this. I could have sworn I had a small one cup coffee plunger. I know I had one a few years ago. Maybe I took it away with me on tour and it stayed on tour. Anyway, so, thinking that a big coffee plunger wasn’t going to cut the mustard, I had resigned myself to purchasing a new one, thus throwing into doubt our good savings plans. However, when I got into work today, I found an 8 cup plunger in the kitchen. Ever happy to give something a go, I tried the full sized coffee plunger, and you know something? Success. No new plunger required for me. This is perhaps a good thing, given that we had set up this great savings plan and I was about to throw my plan into disarray. $AU15.00, you say. That’s nothing! But, I say, it’s the small stuff that gets to us, not the big stuff. So, I am now a happy camper and I can have my cake and eat it. And not pay $3 for coffee every day when at work. It’s all good. (Look, I know this is small life stuff when there are truly serious problems elsewhere, ok? I’m just saying. Besides, I’m trying NOT to contribute to environmental woes by the purchase of unnecessary stuff. I know there are people on the streets and stuff. I came very close to it myself as a young single mum. I’ve had more than my share of life’s bullshit, ok? So let me have my small moments and I won’t complain too much more about the really irritating things that get on my nerves, like pile driving building works outside my building that are making my desk shake.)

As to my work habits, I am still fighting the enervating but addictive Facebook surfing. Not succeeding very well, but I am forcing myself to do 30 minutes of transcript before I look at Facebook. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so well connected. That’s connected in the virtual sense, not the real.

So, how have we done on the savings front this week? Great! We’ve maintained a pretty tight savings budget, despite the hugely expensive Apple Care nonsense, and on target to helping me afford to fill a broken tooth. Yep, you guessed it, just when I thought everything was good, along comes a wretched broken tooth to add to our financial woes. Never mind the tooth – can’t feel much pain and I’m keeping it clean. Either the tooth is seriously dead and has been for years or it’s not a big issue (so, if your tooth is a little sensitive on the broken side, that means the root is still alive, yeah?). But, of course, a side trip to the dentist is not really my cup of expensive java. On the plus side, though, it is the only one of my teeth with a whopping great hole in it. I have 2 other small fillings, but, really, my teeth are healthy! Thank goodness for fluoride pills and fluoride in the water.

So, now the pile driving is really annoying and I can’t hear my transcripts. Should I just give up? Soldier on, I think. This will only last another two years….

Nime3 Conference

I have spent the last three days attending the Nime3 Narrative Soundings conference. I have found myself only partially attending to the very interesting presentations and I wonder: am I all conferenced out? Am I done going to conferences for anything other than the networking opportunities? While I have enjoyed listening to some of the presentations I have discovered that my mind wanders and I am drawn to attending to other things, like blogs, Facebook and online banking. Perhaps I need to confess: I am only interested in the work of Graham Welch and a few others in illuminating some of the work that they do. I am not really interested in Narrative Inquiry for its own sake as I have attended many workshops and talks already. Maybe I’m tired, too. I’m saying goodbye to my son tonight. He returns to Melbourne tonight and he’s leaving on a jetplane, don’t know when he’ll be back again. We took him out to dinner last night and then to a club where we listened to funk/jazz. I drank 1 too many glasses of champagne and I am old and tired today, sad and quiet.

The dangers of online social networking

Well, just a little reminder not to give out all my personal details online – I’ve just had a fairly strange experience with a so-called Facebook friend. Fellow by the name of Tim Roberts, here in the sunshine state, has been sending me rude messages via Facebook. He became a friend online through other friends – I thought little of it, as he seemed to be involved with a number of my other friends, so I thought it would be okay to accept him as a friend. He conducts choirs at churches; he is apparently into music.

All was well for a few months. He takes lovely pictures as an amateur photographer and I commented on the beauty of a couple that he showed online in the news feed. Then I was online chat/wise – I often talk to my eldest this way – and he wanted a chat. Pretty soon (within about 2 minutes) the chat became strange – we had been talking about music causing anxiety, and it suddenly became clear that he was exhibiting a sexual tone and tenor in the conversation. I was not pleased, told him so and straight away got offline. I was not unduly upset, but this was the first time I had been propositioned on Facebook. I did not remove him from my friends list but I’ve not been online chat since. Then, last week, he sent me a fairly rude email over Facebook in which he was once again sexually implicit. I removed him from my friends list. Then, today, he sends me ANOTHER email, once again a rude one, in which he abuses me and tries to belittle me. Now, of course, I have to work out, in Facebook’s labyrinthine privacy codes, which button to press to ensure I do not get any more harassing emails from this person, who, if he wanted to, could probably find me online elsewhere.

I’ve not been sexually suggestive in any way, not permissive, not unduly unfriendly (as far as I know) but this guy takes the cake for rudeness. I want to feel safe with my online friends – this man has made me feel vulnerable and annoyed that I have to be even more circumspect than I already am about our privacy. I don’t accept friends willy nilly – but this makes me even more uncertain about accepting friends on Facebook.

And if any of you know Tim Roberts, chorister, conductor and amateur photographer from south-east QLD, smack him in the mouth for me, will you?

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This has been a fun one for me today, as I drag myself around trying to recuperate from the weekend of conference madness. Essentially, one of my friends sent through a message suggesting that, on Facebook, we each put our status as: “I like it on the bench” or some such message, to drive the blokes mad with our completely rude – or so they think – messages. Even my girlfriends are falling for this one! Apparently liking it on the hallstand means I’m kinky. Actually, we are referring to where we like our handbags.

It’s all about building awareness of Breast Cancer Month. My aunty had breast cancer and a mastectomy. While she is basically healthy (I think), it has changed her outlook on life. Several of my friends and colleagues have also suffered from breast cancer. It’s pretty indiscriminate. I’m one of those blythe spirits who still thinks nothing can go wrong with me and am happy in denial of any future illness, however, I am perfectly aware that I could be struck down at any moment with an illness like breast cancer.

So, along with those other unpleasant cancers: ovarian; prostate; stomach; colon; tongue (ever tried to eat or talk without one?); bone; kidney and liver; and lung; plus any others I’ve forgotten, let’s raise a glass to those brilliant scientists, doctors and medicos searching for a cure, and providing treatment for our cancer sufferers.