I Facebook, therefore I am.

Kirsten, Hawzein, Tigray, Ethiopia

Facebook: A constant carrousel of happy moments, togetherness, and joy. It would be great if life could be only what I put on Facebook.

Yet here I am rushing to school, late yet again (not because I got caught up doing productive things, but because I was dilly-dallying around wasting time), sweating like a pig and unprepared to teach English to 50 Ethiopian students.

I finally arrive at school and the main office (with my teaching coat, lesson plan, and chalk and eraser) is locked. By making a quick decision, I decide to go into class anyway and just wing it.

I decide to do a reading activity with the students because it requires little lesson preparation and I literally don’t have any Plan B. Students run to other classrooms and manage to collect a total of five books for 50 students, surprisingly not a bad amount of books for the day. Although most students crowd around the textbook, only a few are actually doing the activity while others stare listlessly out the window, sleep with their head on the desk, or (at their worst) are hitting each other and making noise amounting to a dull roar.

This is my real life Facebook status.

If I included my real moments on Facebook there would be uncomfortable moments displayed of pain, loneliness, and brokenness. Do you want to see that? Why do we insist on ignoring and censoring the cold splashes of rejection, lost love, and death? Is there still a more excellent way?

Hannah, Modesto, California

I am a woman who values – nay, cherishes – the art of napping. There are no books, no topical, millennial online articles that consider napping among the qualities of geniuses (geniusi?) or “successful” people, but I am not discouraged. It has been my experience that a well-timed nap can change the entire flavor of a day; I have done some of my best neuron-firing after this practice and I am forever indebted to the Spanish for offering me this gift of the siesta.

Old school nap-tion going on with the bro
Old school nap-tion going on with the bro

However, here in California, I have received my fair share of flack for being the girl that naps – the lazy girl, the unproductive girl, the boring girl, the girl who wastes the day. And try as I might not to drink of the haterade, I often find myself endeavoring to fight off the nap impulse purely in the interest of avoiding the accompanying stereotypes. When I succeed in resisting the urge, sometimes I am productive – shiny floor tiles gleam in the kitchen, hopeful resumés race off into the ether, pretentious veggies are bought and lay in the produce drawer to await their culinary fate. But (most) other times, my attention is robotically averted to Facebook.

Minutes, hours, days of my life have gone into the uninspired perusing of my “feed.” Sometimes the screen can lead me to genuinely fascinating material, but more often than not, I’ve watched my own brain get sucked down into a labyrinth of puppy videos, incessant rants prattled off by unhappy “Friend!” strangers and images of whiskey bottles and regret. I will be the first to admit that all of these phenomena have their own special place in my heart, and I all too frequently overhear myself proffering gossip with the classic, formulaic opener “Did you see what (blank) put on Facebook last week?!” But the truth that I cannot run from is that I don’t want to be so present in an imaginary space.

As a close friend pointed out to me this weekend, Facebook has become a wasteland for me. He coined it Wastebook. And I agree. I would never dare decry the undeniably positive aspects of this shared, virtual world, but there comes a point when it substitutes entirely the lived-out-loud version of our lives that we seem so desperate to publicize.

So when 1 PM stared me in the face on my laptop, right above the blue banner that I had unconsciously clicked on, I chose to nap. A very conscious decision to let my mind belabor itself for a little while on creating its own feed just for me.

Lindsay, Bordeaux, France

Screen shot 2015-02-27 at 10.25.24
My first official Profile Picture

Oh, Facebook.  Does anyone remember the first time they created their Facebook page? I do. Well, not necessarily the first time I created my page, but the first time I wanted to create a page but then couldn’t, because I was too young.  I know, shocking, as nowadays there are twelve-year olds with Facebook.  I’m pretty sure I’ve even seen someone make a Facebook page for their dog.  But I digress.

My boyfriend at the time was in college and told me about Facebook, but alas, I was a lowly high school senior without a college email address, which was required to sign up at the time.  When I got to college and finally got myself a page, I was so into it.  I could easily keep in touch with friends from high school now that we were scattered all over the country for college!  I could upload photos of all the fun stuff I was doing at school so everyone could see!  I was on all the time, updating my status and posting on walls.  I felt connected to all the people I was now so far away from, that I had just left.

But as time has gone on, I feel less and less drawn to Facebook.  I am “friends” with a lot of people I haven’t physically spoken to in years.  Even some people who I went to high school with, but never even really talked to back then, let alone in the past 8 years since (oh god I feel old saying that, has it really been so long??).  I post less, upload hardly any pictures (my “current” profile picture is from NYE 2014), and use email more frequently to actively keep in touch with old friends.  That’s the main problem I have with Facebook – it’s so passive.  You see what’s going on in the lives of people you know (or used to know) without having to make the effort to stay in contact.  It’s lazy.  And a little creepy, to be honest.

I went through a while back and deleted a lot of people I didn’t really interact with,  and a few days later got a request from one to become “friends” again.  I haven’t spoken to that person in probably six years.  There was no message, like “Hey Lindsay, why did you delete me? I know it’s been a while, but let’s catch up!” Nothing. Just a request to passively follow my life from afar without ever having to actually engage in a conversation with me now and then.

No thanks.

Ella, Llangefni, Wales

Facebook, helping people procrastinate since 2004. I sincerely doubt there are many people on the face of the earth that have never heard of Mark Zuckerberg’s social network, heck the story of its creation even got turned into a movie! Nowadays it seems like everyone and their mum is using the site (mine included) but with our online friend lists constantly growing, what’s the effect it’s having on our real life friendships?

Nowadays I find myself getting more and more irritated by what I see on Facebook, my news feed is slowly becoming a deluge of selfies, oversharing, bragging, passive aggressiveness and of course the “share if you hate cancer” type posts. Where the latter often are created by scammers, the people sharing it are blissfully unaware of it, thinking that they’re helping raise awareness, or sometimes money. They also seem unaware of how annoying it is for the rest of us to have endless not-so meaningful quotes laid over an image clogging up our news feeds. Don’t even get me started on the ones containing things like, “ignore this if you like punching babies” etc…

I shouldn’t complain really, I have to use Facebook as part of my job, and it’s been proven as an effective way for businesses big and small to stay in touch with their customers, and of course to advertise. However, they’ve been rather sneaky in using an algorithm that only shows a page’s posts to a fraction of those who have liked the page, unless you’re willing to pay.

I can understand them selling advertising, you wouldn’t expect a magazine or newspaper to print your ads for free, so why would you expect it of a website? But there’s something really rather annoying about having things hidden from people who have actually chosen to interact with you.

I’ve seen it on my personal page; a tattoo studio that I follow stopped showing up in my news feed one day, and no matter how many times I made sure I was following the page rather than just “liking” it, the posts still weren’t showing up on my timeline. The solution was simple, I had to subscribe to notifications whenever they posted, but even now I still don’t see the posts in my feed, and I have no idea why.

anniversaryIt’s not all doom and gloom though. Without Facebook I would find it much harder to keep in touch with friends all over the world, and I like getting little updates on special moments
in the lives of people I care about, and being able to share my own, just like I did in celebration of my parents’ Silver Wedding Anniversary this week. It seems even the grumpiest of us can’t escape the allure of Facebook, but please, cool it with the selfies and soppy quotes ok?

Clare, London, England

‘Facebook, Armbook, Shoulderbook, Myspace, Yourspace, Ourspace, we’re all friends yeah?’ (Rizzlekicks).

Social media and I have an interesting relationship. ‘Interesting’ in the British sense in case you were wondering. Essentially I’m just a little too lazy to keep on top of endless notifications and I mentally reply to everybody but actually composing a message with those typed letters and pressing send in ‘real life’, now that’s a longer process.

On Tuesday between 9 and 11pm I was completing the last stage of my commute after a day of university and teaching. After a quick stretch on the Northern Line, I was back in the open air of the DLR where the possibility of 3G makes the last bit of the 3.5 hour commute pass a little quicker.

This week I’m seriously into social media. I’m part of a team who have launched an online exhibition about Napoleon’s 100 Days and we want it to reach as many people as possible (including YOU!!!): www.100days.eu. Social media is great for this and I’ve already ‘met’ so many interesting people, though I have to admit Twitter is potentially more useful for Facebook than this and has far more pretty pictures from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Now, by and large I consider Facebook to be more ‘personal’ and twitter my more ‘professional’ outlet, but I’ve abruptly realised how grown-up life became all of a sudden. From eighteen, my ‘Facebook birth’, to when I graduated from my BA it was a great way to keep in contact with people, interact online, like, comment, joke, relive last night; but now online life has got a little more serious.

People have jobs, there’s a notable decline in photos involving fancy dress, onesies and alcohol, and there’s an endless line of engagements, weddings, houses and babies (I am very happy for you, honestly). People appear to have acquired wine glasses instead of just using a mug (glass stems are so not practical for precarious, ever-growing piles of dirty washing up which is a customary installment in any student house, call it art if you will); peeling wallpaper and windows dripping with condensation have been replaced by smart, well kept flats and a noticeable rise in interior decorations.

Despite all these changes, I use good old ‘FB’ for what I always have: communicating with people. We meet so many people from all over the place, we share so many enriching experiences together: it is truly amazing that we can stay connected and continue to share.


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