For once, I was ahead of the curve, and, having rarely been in this exalted place, I can tell you it feels good. The backlash against Facebook, the social networking site, has begun, with rumblings of discontent being heard from distant corners of the globe.
Word is going round that it is time-wasting, trivial, and a pathetic substitute for meeting friends in person. This is precisely what I have been saying to my friends all along but they used to recoil in horror as though declining to open a Facebook account was like refusing to bathe. They muttered darkly about certain people being pig-headed. I was reated like a Luddite, vainly holding out against penicillin or the electric kettle. Every time i asked them what exactly was so wonderful about this site, they gave the same feeble answers. Oh, it’s a great way to keep in touch. You can post your photos on it. Through the links to other people’s pages, you can see what your ex-boyfriends or ex-husbands are up to.
Well, according to me, this is a waste of time. I can barely keep in touch with the friends who really matter to me four to five at the most, at any given stage in my life much less maintain an online relationship with old college friends or colleagues from years ago.
If one has never bothered to make contact with them in all these years, it’s because one has never needed or particularly wanted to. It means that they don’t matter hugely to me now. They did then, but now i’m in touch with another set of friends. My life is full enough with them.
If one has a spare few hours, one would rather meet a friend over coffee or wine. That real-time, face-to-face conversation is contact, not exchanging trivia online. Why would i want to see a friend’s holiday snaps when i can barely summon up enough interest in my own to get them developed? Few things, bar waiting for milk to boil, are as boring as other people’s holiday pictures. Much as i love my friends in various parts of the world, i’m perfectly content with a ‘broad brush’ update. An occasional e-mail telling me they are fine, their teenage son hasn’t become a drug dealer and their dog’s arthritis is better is fine with me. Any more detail is redundant. I assume they are equally uninterested in the daily mundaneness of my life and that is exactly as it should be.
Even assuming i wanted to sign up, i would never have the time. If i, blessed with two maids and only one child to look after, cannot find the time to go on this site, how do millions of others, particularly those in the West who have many household chores, do so?
No wonder companies are banning this site. God knows what it is doing to global productivity. But even outside work, don’t people have to walk the dog? Check up on an elderly aunt? File their tax returns?
The Facebook phenomenon has confirmed yet again what we have always known that human beings are sheep. They see someone going off in one direction and they follow blindly for no apparent reason beyond the comfort of numbers.
All my efforts at persuading my 12-year-old son not to get onto Facebook failed. I spoke cogently about the charm of being different, of having the moral strength to resist peer pressure, of the infinitely greater pleasures of reading, but my efforts failed. His school friends looked at him as though he had gone soft in the brain.
As for twitter, don’t even get me started. The very name cutesy and twee irritates the hell out of me. Facebook and twitter are fads. Like all fads, they’ll end up in the dustbin, not of history, but of history’s footnotes.