Facebook: Let’s be Friends

Today’s guest post is from lovely Rach over at Mid 30s Life. You can find her blogging here and tweeting here.

I’m not a Facebook expert.  I probably annoy the pants off more than one of my Facebook friends.   In fact the last time I went to de-friend someone, I realised he had de-friended me first (nooo!).

But if you were to say to me, “Rachel – give us your Facebook tips or the world’s worst hair stylist will give you one of their specials,” this is what I’d come up with.  I’m talking about your personal Facebook page, not a blog or company page.
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Boxes, books and a serious case of Lady Flu.

I’m having one of those nights where I’ve started a post and deleted it about half a dozen times. The words just aren’t flowing, maybe because I’ve had a stinky old head cold and a stomach bug this weekend. I’ve got a hot toddy to get me through X Factor, then it’s two Night Nurse and off to bed. I know I posted a few months ago saying that mummies aren’t allowed to get ill, but occasionally even we have to admit defeat.

I think the cold might be a London one – I was down earlier in the week having a look round some areas – nine hours up and down the East Coast main line and several hours on the tube probably exposed me to numerous foreign nasties. So there’s a lesson; get the whole family dosed up on Echinacea and Vitamin C before we move!

Snuffles aside, it has been a productive week. After four years of marriage (almost exactly – it’s our anniversary this week!), I’ve finally sent my wedding dress to be cleaned. In preparation for the move I’ve offloaded a few bits and pieces of superfluous stuff onto friends. Mainly, it was a good excuse to catch up with some lovely folk that I’ve not seen in a while, but it has also helped free up some cupboard space. I hope our shredder, coffee machine, and Moses Basket are enjoying life in their new homes. All the clothes and toys that DorkySon has outgrown are boxed up and ready to go to another friend, assuming she doesn’t go into labour before she can come and collect them. So far, the great wardrobe clear out has yielded three big bags of clothes which are now waiting to be taken to the charity shop (it may turn into four bags… I’ve got some dresses that I know I’ll never fit into again, but can’t quite bear to part with yet).

Next come the books. I am rubbish at getting rid of books. I know I’ll never sit down and re-read any of the tomes on body art that I needed for my honours dissertation, or the book about David Jason swimming with dolphins, which mysteriously appeared on my shelves. We probably don’t need three copies of the Catcher in the Rye, or two copies of every Harry Potter book. I can tell you right now that I will never get beyond page 20 of Ulysses. But still… I find books impossible to get rid of. They are the only things I can spend vast amounts of money on without even a tinge of guilt. I was lucky enough to grow up in a house where books could be found everywhere, and had always envisaged bringing DorkySon up in a place where he too would find interesting books in every corner and cupboard.

If we end up moving somewhere with limited storage space, and it comes down to a choice between the dresses and the books, I know already that the books will win.

But anyway, before I succumb to my lady-flu and disappear under the duvet, let me remind myself of the many other things that were good this week:

1. We had another flat viewing today, with a relatively normal prospective buyer (I can’t wait until we’ve sold, so I can blog about some of the bonkers folk we’ve had in previously…).

2. DorkySon is slowly getting to grips with his new scooter, and when he’s not busy doing that he’s dazzling us with his ever-expanding repertoire of songs. ‘Twinkle Twinkle Traffic Light’ seems to be the current favourite.

3. I had a grand old time wandering around London and scouting out some possible areas to live, although somewhat predictably I fell in love with the two most expensive areas on our list. Fingers crossed we can find a suitable flat in the next six weeks, with room for plenty of books. Did I mention the books?

4. My tiny-violin nostalgia piece about moving was featured on Offbeat Home.

5. I’ve got 97 Fans on my DorkyMum Facebook Page! Which is nearly 100… Which would be marvellous. If I can get to 100 by Monday morning it might, just, compensate for the awfulness of the new Facebook layout.

Hope you all have a ruddy marvellous week. If you don’t want to come back here for more paracetamol-powered ramblings I completely understand. I am hopeful that normal service will resume soon. Meantime check out Letters from Your Mum, DoodleMum and Mental Political Parent for some other interesting and often amusing takes on parenting. And check out the excellent Love New Blogs tomorrow morning for their weekly showcase of newer blogs.

Okay. Night night all. I’m done.

The Book I’d Like to Write: 373 Friends

At the last count, I had 373 Facebook friends.

There is more than sixty years difference between my youngest and oldest friends. A dozen of them are related to me. There are seven Sarahs, and three Tims, but only one Wendy.

Some of them are people I went to school or university with, and some of them are former colleagues. There are a lot of fellow mums, journalists, and poets. Three of them are people with whom I shared a tent on the Arctic ice sheet. A small handful of them are people I know through online communities – parenting and photography – who I’ve never actually met.

My friends include several MSPs, one MP, and a former US Congressman. One of my friends made news around the world for disrupting Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at the Jewish Federation General Assembly, while another once superglued themselves to a British Prime Minister. One of my friends has featured in a Blackberry advert, and one of them turned down the opportunity to go on Oprah.

I have a friend that has survived a broken neck; a friend that has stood and looked up at a full moon while actually talking to Neil Armstrong; a friend that has shaken hands with Desmond Tutu; and a friend that has dined at Buckingham Palace on more than one occasion. Actually, now that I think about it, that’s all the same person. More about him later…

Every single one of my Facebook friends is a fascinating person, with a full life and many interesting stories to tell, but recently I’ve become very sadly aware of what a small proportion of them I ever sit down and chat with, face-to-face. My online community bears very little relation to my geographical community.

So DorkyDad and I have agreed, that should we ever have the chance, we’ll take eighteen months out of our lives to go and visit every single one of our Facebook friends. We’ll sit and drink wine, late into the night, and discover what makes our friends tick. We’ll sleep on their sofas, browse their bookshelves, and scratch the bellies of their cats and dogs. We’ll do all the things that friends used to do, when they weren’t too busy playing Farmville and poking each other. It’ll take a lottery win, or some other unexpected windfall*, so it probably won’t happen. But it’s nice to dream.

In the meantime, we are starting small, and just making a point of reconnecting with as many friends as we can. I’ve got a coffee lined up with one of those MSPs, and a playdate at the park with some of the mums. We’re planning a picnic next weekend with a couple we don’t see very often, and a holiday next month to visit some of our family, who will be meeting DorkySon for the first time. We can’t wait.

Don’t get me wrong, for keeping up to date with the bare bones of what’s going on in the lives of my 373 friends, Facebook is fine. I love to see photos of babies growing up, cousins getting married, and friends taking holidays in the sun. But seeing those people for real – stepping into their warm hello-hugs at the airport – would be so much better. I’ll keep buying those lottery tickets in the hope that I can make it happen.

*Like a publishing deal! Wouldn’t 373 Friends make a great book? Dave Gorman has probably already done it, but I’d be so interested in reading a travelogue where someone actually went to visit all of his or her friends and then wrote a short profile of them all.  Perhaps I’m just inherently nosey though. Hmm… let me know what you think, publishing friends. 

The Rise of Slacktivism

Computer screen showing Facebook login page

This post could also be called ‘Why I don’t like the like button (but I use it anyway…)’

It has been quite a weekend. The video showing Barack Obama’s awesome humiliation of Donald Trump at the White House correspondents dinner has 30,000 YouTube likes. So far, Osama Bin Laden is dead has 25,000 Facebook likes, although I’m sure that number will rise exponentially over the next day or two. And the big winner is Pippa Middleton, whose Ass Appreciation Society, also on Facebook, has nearly 130,000 likes.

There are many problems with the like button, the main one being that it makes us all (and I include myself in this) lazy. Like doesn’t always just mean like, and it doesn’t really take a lot longer to type, “I read that article too, and I completely agree with it!” or “What a great photo – you look lovely”.

I remember when I used to write letters to distant friends – real letters than needed to be put in an envelope and posted. Then we stopped writing and started emailing. Then we stopped emailing and started writing on each other’s walls. Now there are people who I communicate with entirely through likes – they like my status update, I like their engagement announcement – but there is very little two-way conversation to remind each other what we actually, erm, liked about each other in the first place. Continue reading