It's 9 months since I finally gave in and joined Facebook. Time for an assessment.
Apart from the occasional confusion between FB (First Born) and FB (Facebook), I have to confess I'm really enjoying it. I love the immediacy. A blog post can take hours to compose, especially if it includes links, photos etc. In contrast, I can type up a wall post in seconds. As a way of letting people know what's happening day by day (and sometimes minute by minute) there's no comparison. OTOH, posts are often shallow - do I really need to tell the world that I've just dropped a tub of marge?
As I work from home, I think of these as the kinds of quickie conversations I'd have round the kettle or water cooler or on fag breaks if I worked in an office. I can pop into my home page and see an instant snapshot of other people's recent posts. They make me feel connected to the world Out There and make me smile - or commiserate - or fume. Whatever the reaction, they're contact with other human beings and that can't be a bad thing, no?
Blogging has suffered in terms of quantity. Having FB as the place for daily updates means I inevitably publish fewer posts here. But that's good because it is actually less of a distraction from my own writing as I don't have to devote the hours and effort it takes to compose frequent blog posts. Page views haven't suffered as much as I anticipated when I realised I was posting less. In fact, as I usually link to posts on my FB wall, if anything I have more readers on the day a post is published.
I now have over 2000 friends. There's a large number of people who are family and Real Life friends. There's another swathe consisting of people I have never met in RL but consider them as genuine virtual friends, whom I've 'met' through blogging or forums. That still leaves an awful lot of people I have only the flimsiest of connections with. The vast majority have come to me as requests via mutual links. I check them briefly and if they have a lit connection or look like the kinds of people who would like my books, I add them.
So 9 months after I came on board as a blushing virgin, it's time for an audit. FB etiquette is very different, but I have my own take on it now which I feel comfortable with. I've started to delete people who I don't know but who use my wall to post their own poems or links to videos etc. Because they're on my wall, they appear personal, but they're not of course. They've sent the same thing to hundreds and maybe even thousands of others, and by so doing they shunt my own posts down the page.
Just because we may not know each other in Real Life, we have to remember that an FB contact is a human being, not a virtual creation or roving bot. The same rules of mutual respect apply in both worlds IMO. If you came round to my home, I would invite you in. We'd chat. I'd put the kettle on and rifle through the cupboards in search of biscuits.
But while I'm in the kitchen, I don't expect you to push all the pictures on my living room wall out of the way behind the settee and replace them with your own pictures. That's just rude. So anyone who does that, or the FB equivalent, can expect to be dropped from my friend's list. Fair enough?
Right, I'm off ... to link to this post on FB of course. If you're not there already, I'm here. Wanna be my friend?