Logged on to Facebook this evening. First time since I deactivated my account on New Year’s Eve.
The first picture I saw triggered a familiar reaction. A bitter taste of vindication followed. It was as though the fuse had been lit on a bomb buried deep inside me. I was frantically trying to blow out the fuse forgetting that all I was really doing was hastening the impending blast.
That’s what social media does. Regardless of intent the seemingly innocent picture can provoke all sorts of emotional responses in the recipient. Don’t anyone deny it. We’re all made the same way. Never has the sight of two smiling people generated quite so much bile.
I had logged back in to retrieve the contact details of the people who had messaged me with their email and postal addresses following my announcement about abandoning the platform.
I had worried a few days ago that my announcement might have looked like I was being needy. I’d checked with our New Year Pals during the third glass of champagne and later explained how it had seemed like the right thing to do – proper digital etiquette to explain your thinking. Everyone understood. I was relieved.
Now I read the messages some people had sent and felt a vague sense of panic. I was touched about people sharing their details. They had ‘opted in’ (to use cold community management terminology), but what would I say to them in a one-to-one message? I didn’t really feel like I knew enough about them to strike up private conversation. Would these new highly-valued relationships falter? Would I end up crawling back to the platform everyone else happily uses without an issue when I realised I couldn’t do without it? Has Facebook given the illusion of close personal contact? And if it has, what are the implications for a generation of people?
Returning to FB this evening, albeit temporarily, felt odd. A bit like how I imagine returning to an ex’s on a cold weekday afternoon to retrieve your belongings after a bitter break-up. You’re there to bag up what’s yours. The longer you hang around, the more things you see that make you realise it was the right decision to leave in the first place.
What I learn during one brief visit back to the Facebook bubble is that retrieving people’s email addresses automatically isn’t as straightforward as you’d think. It seems that at best you can retrieve people’s Facebook email addresses, but anything else is a whole lot more difficult. Facebook has in effect created whole networks of people hidden by the digital equivalent of British Telecom’s ‘Ex-Directory’.
It also turns out that that last night’s feline dirty protest wasn’t the only one mounted during our New Year break. Communication from our next door neighbour late last night revealed that she too had discovered a similar deposit, only she had discovered it with her hands not her nose. Access to the cat-flap has now been reinstated.
This year I’m returning to my blogging roots and writing a daily journal.
Sign up for email updates below, or follow @ThoroughlyGood for weekly summaries.