Social Media, Technology

Facebook Is A Hellscape, But I Can’t Leave

I think we can all agree that social media is a hellscape. Twitter is full of Nazis, Instagram is a one track path to making you feel bad about yourself, and Reddit… we should just burn down Reddit and never look back. But the grandaddy of them all, Facebook, is the platform that I have the most beef with. Just why is it so consistently awful?

On the face of it, Facebook isn’t that bad. There’s the odd racist rant from that one uncle you avoid at parties, and sometimes there’s pictures of your friends’ babies. What’s wrong with it?

26405898387_5e9e0c2c56_b

My problem is that I’m so tied into Facebook that I feel like I can’t leave. I’ve been on it since I was 21, and I’m 33 now. That’s insane. I’ve never known an online service last so long. At first, I didn’t want to leave MySpace for Facebook, and now… I wish I’d gone down with that ship, honestly.

A lot of the problems with Facebook are the same problems that other social media sites have, in fairness. It doesn’t feel the need to weed out hate speech or threatening behaviour on it’s site, much like Twitter. It has a strange need to censor female chests, much like Instagram and Tumblr, with its fear of ‘female presenting nipples’ (no I’m not letting that go, I mean, WTF Tumblr). It also thinks nothing of OWNING everything you post onto the site, and selling on your data if it suits them. So what makes it worse than those sites?

I think there’s a couple of things that make it awful. First, there’s the technical workings of the site. Basically, it’s a garbage fire. It’s an absolute nightmare to actually use. It’s grown and warped over the years, making it unwieldy and irritating to try and navigate. Then there’s the actual workings of the site. If you want to see a chronological feed on your phone, you need to head to the menu and then pick ‘Most Recent’, and it might work. Some of the time. On my desktop, I have to use a plug in called ‘FB Purity’ to force it into chronological order. That plug in also tells me when someone unfriended me, so it’s kind of nervewracking to use.

Ap_facebook_dislike

There’s that, then there’s the way Facebook is used. As it’s such an ‘old’ social media site, it’s full of 30 somethings and older, whinging about their lives. I’m not immune to it. I realised what I was doing, and so made an effort to stop posting such bollocks. The upshot? I barely post anymore. Teenagers aren’t using it because their parents are on it, and they’re sick of being told to mind their language when they use it. Because of that, it’s stagnating as a platform. We’re seeing all kinds of funny and exciting posts on Tumblr, but on Facebook it’s all older folk whining that the bins haven’t been collected.

What I’d really like to do is just quit Facebook. Just log off and leave. I’d love to do that, I honestly desperately want to do that, but I can’t. Why? Because Facebook has an iron grip on my social life.

If I want to go to an event, I have to find the Facebook group and ‘like’ or ‘follow’ it. This is where I’ll get the updates about it. Several conventions I follow all update primarily via Facebook, so if I want to keep up, that’s where I need to be.

Then there’s using the internet elsewhere. Even if I’m not on Facebook, I’m on Facebook. Over the years, I’ve been incredibly lazy and used Facebook to log into sites, because I didn’t need to type in all my details to create an account. That means that I’ve been using it to log in everywhere, and I don’t even know how many sites have my Facebook data now. If I delete my account, I pretty much screw myself.

download (12)

Finally, there’s the photos. There’s photos from over a decade of my life on Facebook. There’s photos from when I was a teenager and I used to go clubbing. There’s photos of my wedding. There’s pictures of holidays I went on. I don’t want to lose those. I can download my own pictures, but others belong to other people, and so I can’t easily download the albums. It sucks.

There’s a myriad of other reasons, but basically I feel as though I’m stuck in a toxic relationship with Facebook. I don’t feel capable of unpicking it without upending my life at this point. What do I do? For now, I’m going to delete as much info as I can and keep it just as a communication point, in case people what to talk to me. Until then? We’re stuck together, sadly.

Mental Health, Social Justice, Social Media

Gillette Causes Controversy: Asks Men To Be Slightly Less Crappy

Last week I was writing about the outrage vegan sausage rolls brought about the nation, this week, it’s an advert about maybe being kinder to others. Yup, people are upset about Gillette’s latest advertising campaign. Pull on your rubber gloves, we’re going in.

So, what have Gillette done? The razor company, who market primarily to men and use the slogan ‘The Best A Man Can Get’ have released a new advert. This 1:50 short asks their customers, ‘Is this the best a man can get?’

It used footage of real life events, such as Terry Crews addressing the Senate about sexual assault, and news reports following the #MeToo movement, to point out that men can, and will do better. It’s clearly aimed at toxic masculinity, and the godawful, time honoured excuse of ‘boys will be boys’.

What’s great about it is that it’s giving men very clear signals about what they can do, to make the world a better place. Two boys fighting are pulled apart by a dad, saying ‘We don’t treat each other like that.’ Another dad saves a boy from being bullied by a mob of school kids, while his own son watches. Friends call out their friends on their catcalling. It ends by showing the effect this will have on young boys today.

Obviously, I don’t believe that Gillette released this advert because their owners are strong believers in social justice. Clearly their marketers have seen the changing tide of popular opinion, where casual sexism, homophobia and violence is no longer treated as par for the course. Because of this, they’ve made a calculated risk and made an advert that they know will turn heads, either for the right or wrong reasons.

And good Lord, people. Did you read the comments under the video? I hope you didn’t, for your own sanity. I read a few and I just wanted to cry or laugh, or maybe both at the same time.

3645211083_43ed00c6e5_b.jpg

As you’d expect in a culture that’s still doggedly steeped in patriarchal bullshit, here are men flocking to the comments to tell Gillette they’re full of crap and that they’ll never buy their products again. The comments don’t really point to anything specific that they don’t like about the ad. It’s just incoherent yelling.

‘How dare you tell me that being a man means I actually have to treat others with respect! Anyone who stops someone else from catcalling ought to turn in their man card!’

You think that’s hyperbole, but I’m not lying when I saw comments very much along those lines.

You’d think men would like this advert. Men’s Rights Activists, or MRAs, love to ask ‘what about men? What about their needs?’ They’re being addressed right here. Men, when they band together, can stamp out some of the worst issues they face today. Bullying is addressed in the ad, important when men’s suicides rates are higher than ever. Having Terry Crews featured, a victim of sexual assault, sends a powerful message too. MRAs love to bang on about male victims of assault are often ignored or called liars (and it’s true they need more support). Surely anyone who aligns with MRA ideals would be pleased to see that?

Sadly, they won’t. It’s not about actually addressing the issues that are hurting modern men and boys. It’s about maintaining the status quo. When they’re asked to do the bare minimum to make things better, they explode. Compare it to the adverts women face every day.

Screenshot_175.jpg

But it’s not all bad. The video was actually brought to my attention to my own husband. He was outraged by the nonsense he was seeing in the comments. In fact, my laid back and usually chill husband even piled into them himself ‘I think this is great. I haven’t bought Gillette razors in years, but I make sure I will now!’

He’s not the only man to feel this way either. The decent men are few and far between online, because they’ve usually got better things to do than get involved in the fight. They’re actually out there, being decent people.

At the end of the day, the naysayers won’t get their way. The tide’s already turning. The sales Gillette will lose from them will be replaced by others coming back to them, like my husband. They’re getting tons of chatter about it online too, so they’re laughing. And if one kid sees that ad and sees that it’s ok to be a better person, then it’s winning.

Social Media

The Scourge Of The Local Community Facebook Page

Do you remember newspapers? The things that came through your letterbox everyday, or you nipped up the corner shop to go buy. You remember them, right? They are still a thing, but these days you’re probably not going to buy them unless you’re trying to get a cheap holiday.

If you remember those newspapers, you’ll remember the letters page. People would write in, people just like you and I, and have their opinions published right there in black and white. In this age of social media, that doesn’t sound like anything special. So what? I can head to Twitter and I can (and will) spout my opinion for anyone who wants to hear it. Back then though, it was something special. You’d been heard! Your letter had been picked to be published!

Did you know though, that there’s a modern day version of the newspaper letters page? There is, it’s called the local area Facebook page. You probably have one. Plug your postcode or area into Facebook and you’re sure to find it. On the face of it, they’re a great idea. They can keep you up to date with what’s going on in your area, and see what’s going on. People can advertise their services to locals. Lost pets can be found by the power of social media. It’s great, in theory.

I say in theory, because lately I’ve been getting more and more frustrated with my local Facebook page. To start with, they were pretty ok. There were plenty of lost cat posts (why can no one seem to keep hold of their cats?), and posts about events on my doorstep. In recent weeks though, I’ve been getting more and more annoyed with it.

The problem is that the page aims to give a platform to those who have something to say. People have sent them messages, which they’ve then made public on their platform. Sometimes it’s pretty sensible. Maybe someone needs a makeup artist for their wedding, or a plumber that’s local. More often though, it’s just straight up whinging.

Everyone needs a whinge. You have to, or you’ll boil over like a kettle. Is a region wide Facebook page the place to do it though? Recently, all I’ve seen is people banging on and on about the buses in my area. The routes have been changed recently, making life harder for a lot of commuters.

What would you do in this situation? Contact the bus company themselves? Talk to your MP if the bus company won’t budge? Nah. They all go to my local Facebook page and moan and moan about it.

This is what winds me up about it. They give a platform to the whinging because it gets them views. They allow others to pile in and comment, moaning on and on rather than looking to enact change, because it gets them views. That’s all that matters to them. It’s not really about helping the community at that point, it’s just getting eyeballs on their page so they can be advertised to.

Sigh.

What’s worse is that when they do post opinions, they never feel the need to do any copy editing. I’m not sure what it is about social media, but no one feels the need to proofread anything they write. I know everyone doesn’t have perfect grammar, but your browser has built in spell check for a reason! Take this beauty:

Screenshot_41

Please observe the fact the writer thinks full stops are rationed, and so uses just the one throughout that whole wall of text. Can the people who run the page not take the time to edit it into something I can read without my eyes bleeding?!

All of this I could forgive though, if it hadn’t been for this post that was posted the other day, and as you’ll see, caused a furore:

Screenshot_36

I have… so many problems with this. So many. Why are we allowing people a platform just to spout any old nonsense on here? And why is such blatant sexist rubbish allowed? Because that’s what it is. I honestly thought about commenting on this. I wanted to ask, ‘What does the way ANYONE ELSE dresses have to do with you? Why do you still think, in the year of our Lord 2018, that the way a woman dresses is what makes someone attack her?!’

I wanted to take them to task for their god awful victim blaming, but the comments section was already a dumpster fire at this point. The highlight was a guy asking ‘Did you get any pictures of them?… Just kidding. But did you?’

(I reported that, but I’m fairly certain Facebook threw that report into a big file marked ‘LOL DON’T CARE’).

Funnily enough, the post was taken down not long afterwards. Please enjoy this ‘apology’ that was posted instead:

Screenshot_37

Note the ‘we’re sorry if you were offended by the way YOU read it’ tone.

Now I’ve got my screenshots, and vented my spleen about it here, I’m going to finally unfollow the damned page. I’m sure I won’t miss out too much if I don’t see where my nearest medium reading or face painting event is. Plus, I’m moving in the next few months anyway, so, *shrug*.