There is no doubt that these past six years Facebook has played an important part in my life and as I come to reflect this has been both beneficial and detrimental. I typically spend an hour a day minimum on Facebook. Benefits include being able to communicate with “friends” and finding out what is going on in the world and people’s opinion on the same. Detriments include it being addictive, distracting and divisive and frustrating when blocked (as I have been) for violating community standards and there being no way to seek redress and upon receiving unwanted and unhelpful adverts.
When I posted getting on for two years ago “An Open Letter to my Facebook Friends” I did so with the unrealizable hope that people would read this article before reading what I post and especially when commenting on the same. While some button hole me as a rabid rightie these days, I see myself more as a seeker after the truth, that may overstep the mark and needs to be reigned in. I try to operate the true, necessary, kind principle and own up if not.
This is typically how my Facebook day pans out… I tend to be an early riser and combine spiritual devotions and checking out websites like the BBC and Drudge, with what new has been posted on Facebook that can be viewed on my timeline (and that tends to be rather a lot – and unless something particularly captures my attention, I usually skim through what I read quickly). I may wade in with comments, especially if it is to do with something posted in response to what I had posted earlier, and if something strikes me as particularly shareworthy, I share it on my page, sometimes with a comment. I do so on a variety of subjects: fun and serious, religion and politics, community and special interest, and lots more besides. I do so on my mobile and again later in the day if waiting in my car.
Sometimes embedded is an article which I may or may not read at the time, and I do so for two main audiences: myself to reflect on later and others who after hopefully taking into account my warnings and exhortations in the afore-mentioned “please read this first, open letter” article, it might then challenge or inform and, providing they follow said rules about respect and relevance on comments, may or may not wish to comment, and later having read said comments, I may or may not respond, depending on whether I have something worth adding, time or I can be bothered etc.
I interact with Facebook initially on my mobile phone as in the earlier part of the day I am away from my desk and on the road, and my mobile is all I have, which is less versatile than I would like (frustratingly sometimes when a friend posts something with a link to an article, it is only the article that gets posted). During the day, I can and do access Facebook via my desktop and that is more satisfactory. I do so, if I am in office mode and not out and about or doing chores, in-between writing letters, books and articles or watching audio-videos relating to the issues of the day, some of which relate to what I do and seek to achieve when I do Facebook.
I realise that some who have taken the trouble to read this may be bemused – why did I bother? My response is I have often found people baffled by the way I use Facebook – but if they read this, they will have at least some understanding why I do as I do. Facebook, for all its faults, the biggest I feel is it can be a toxic environment, and is why some avoid it like the plague, is still a good way to exchange information and ideas. While it can be an echo chamber for those who think like me / you who post, it can also be a good medium for finding out stuff, which we might not otherwise do.
How well Facebook succeeds in bringing the world together is a debateable question, but if used aright it can help to achieve this. While I don’t always succeed, I try to make the parts of Facebook I have control over a safe space for people to share diverse opinions and some of the great variety of matters that may interest readers.