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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

Love and relationships

Who Says Valentine’s Day Needs To Be Pink And Heart Shaped?

It’s about that time eh, chaps? It’s nearly Valentine’s Day so it’s time for the obligatory Valentine’s Day themed blog post.

Enter any store around this time and you’re going to see a cavalcade of red and pink merchandise on offer, ready for anyone who needs a little something to give their significant other on February 14th. If you want cuddly teddy bears holding hearts, fancy chocolate boxes, or anything else that a heart pattern can be slapped on, then you’re in luck.

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I’ve never really understood Valentine’s Day as a concept. I’ve been with my husband for 16 years now and we’ve never made a big deal of it. I buy him a card to show I appreciate and love him, but that’s about it. After all, I have all year to tell him what he means to me. If you have to wait until Valentine’s Day to make some kind of grand show of affection, then I have to wonder how much of that is for the attention, rather than any real love for your partner.

That’s what really bugs me about Valentine’s Day, when you get down to it. It’s more about showing off how much you love someone, by spending a lot of money on them. Come the 14th, you know your Instagram feed is going to be packed full of couples looking very loved up, making dramatic declarations of affection. It’s irritating when you’re coupled up, and simply rubbing salt into the wound if you’re single.

It sounds as though I’m very down on those who choose to live their romantic lives out online. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging anyone who does it. I simply don’t understand it. If you love them… why don’t you tell them? Why do you have to write long, sappy Facebook posts and spend wads of cash on weekend getaways to Paris?

Because I don’t get this, I’ve been told that my relationship is doomed to failure. A family member told me that her and her husband never celebrated Valentine’s Day, and that’s why they ended up splitting up. I’d say it was more because they were critically unsuited to each other, but whatever helps you sleep at night, I guess. A friend told me I can’t really love my husband, because we aren’t sappy over each other when others are around.

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It’s kind of frightening that we feel relationships don’t work unless we’re shouting about them from the rooftops at all hours. I may not be hanging off my husband when there’s others around, but we share affection when we’re home, alone. Our relationship isn’t for the benefit of others, its for us and us alone.

That’s what it comes down to, isn’t it? Valentine’s Day is one of a small number of ways it’s ‘acceptable’ to celebrate your relationship. If ordering a pizza and watching something new on Netflix is more your style, then your relationship is just as valid as the ones who jet off to celebrate the day. It’s not about what you do, what you spend on it. It’s about how you spend the day together.

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I feel like slowly but surely, we’re figuring this out as a society. The biggest clue is in the Poundland Valentine’s Day range this year. Along with the chocolates and toys, there’s cheeky mugs that bear slogans such as ‘You’ll Do’ (which I was very tempted to buy for my husband, who says romance is dead?), and £1 engagement rings. The marketing behind the rings is kind of genius. You can buy the ring to propose with as a stand in, and then go shopping for the ‘forever ring’ together.

We’ll get there. Until then, remember that Valentine’s Day isn’t the be all and end all. Enjoy it if you want, or spend the day hiding under a blanket eating ice cream. It’s all good.

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:

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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:

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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:

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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*.