Thursday, March 18, 2010

So, what is it about Social Networking?

Interspersed between mud rains, wild women celebrations, Chinese restaurants, Irish Mothers Day (and now also St Patricks Day!!),  I had been planning to write a post about Facebook,  and what strange demon possessed me to sign up for it. 

What with one thing and another (Farmville, Word Drop, Scrabble, Word Twist, Scramble) I've been meaning to get around to posting, but for some reason it just didn't happen!

I joined Facebook about 5 years ago, I think, when an acquaintance in the US suggested I follow her son's "posts" for the summer as he went to far flung South American places. (He never did post too much... I think he was too far flung!)  But I was in the US (with my laptop and lots of free wi-fi) to spend some time with my mother, and so I figured I'd give it a try.

For the most part, at the time, regarding Facebook, I was underwhelmed and over-paranoid.  The whole social networking phenomenon seemed to belong to a different generation.  Nor was l that keen on reconnecting with my past, which was, happily, enshrouded in the mists of time and false memories!  

The thought of "friending" my granddaughter and grandson  was appealing.  Of course the grandkids father was also on the kids "friend" list (and yes, OK, he's my oldest son, so I friended him as well.)  And then a wandering world traveling friend whom I hadn't seen for ages sent me a message asking if it was really me, in that blurry photo on facebook.  Suddenly I was friends with six people and I had barely gotten started! 

At the time, as we only had a dial up modem connection, here on Corfu, I became a bit frustrated with connecting and so I pretty much ignored it and rarely if ever opened it up for the next four years. 

We finally got DSL up here in the wilds of Vassilika, and I got wireless connection box. Fantastic.  But I'd forgotten my Facebook password and besides, my interests had moved on. 

I originally started this blog last summer, so my son and the family could sort of keep track of my (now) 15 year old grandson who came to visit us for a couple of months last June. I dabbled with Twitter and Facebook a bit after I started the blog, but it was only after my grandson went back home, I REALLY discovered twitter and started twittering back.  That was really fun, and I played with that for a while.  

For some reason, around September, everything seemed to merge- my blog, facebook, twitter...and I found myself sucked in to the social network vortex.  T went to the States to visit the family, and I found myself spending A LOT of time online.

It was so gradual, I can almost say with my Facebook involvement, that I didn't see it coming.  But suddenly I went from 10 friends to 20, and from 20 to 40.  I've almost doubled that again and  I am trying to keep it down to a managable level because It's not any fun if you have too many people to keep track of and I do like to see what people are doing.

Some friends use Facebook a lot.  Some just check in once in a while to see if there are any new messages I suppose.  For me, suddenly, I have become a facebook - how shall  we say - addict?   (I did cut way back on twitter.  I started to feel like a lurking stalker following my favorite people, and besides Facebook was taking up a lot more time!)

Go figure??

Lately, since I discovered many of my village friends and neighbors were on facebook my world has changed dramatically!  I HAVE to check facebook every morning to touch base.  I must see what's going on with all my "games": to whit-  Scrabble, Scramble, WordTwist...   I am currently playing at least 6 games with people from my village as well as several other word games with friends from other parts of the world.  I NEVER thought I'd find myself so enamored with GAMES - but I am.

I seem to have come a long way from the person who couldn't remember her facebook password.

And, Oh yes, I discovered Farmville. An old friend introduced me and then before she neighbored me back, (yes! those who know shake their heads) she stopped playing and disappeared!!  (Fine. OK-ay.  So you have a life....)  

So now, it's sad to see. I'm lost in my little virtual world wherein I plant things, they grow, I sell them.  I take care of my farm animals.  I harvest truffles and oranges and starfruit, collect eggs, milk goats and cows, shear sheep.  I collect feathers, bugs and butterflies.   I give bouquets of flowers away to strangers.  I rescue lost farm animals.  I pet cats.  I get excited when I have enough neigbors to buy a dairy barn.  It all sounds so boring.   I can't even explain to T my bizarre fascination with it.  Still there it is.

Currently I am expanding my horizons and getting new "neighbors", all friends of friends on Corfu, in nearby villages! 

See?  There IS a link to why I'm writing about Farmville and Facebook in a blog about Corfu!!!  One third of all my "friends" on Facebook are from Corfu making the whole facebook experience sort of like one big "party line" telephone! 

[small footnote to people (and particularly frustrated friends who may be reading this!) who are on Facebook and DETEST Farmville and all the idiot messages that come through over the course of a day from your febrile friends who play... Click "Home" (at the top of the page) then go to the offensive Farmville post.  Hover the curser on the right side and a box with the word "Hide" will come up.  The box will say Hide name of idiot friend, Hide Farmville, or Cancel.  Click the box "Hide Farmville", and poof- the Farmville alerts from that friend will no longer appear, but the ones where that same friend asks if you want to go out for coffee, or mentions they are leaving you priceless art  or piles of money in their will, WILL appear.  See? TSimple.]

As the days become longer and summer creeps closer, I am sure I will step back from all this technology, and back into swimming and being outdoors for long periods of time- well, at least until it gets REALLY hot outside...


Now and again I wonder at the marvelous potential inherent in social networking  for making our world peaceful and happy.  I followed the Iranian elections on twitter, and empathised with the young people hoping for a happier existence.  The pathos in some tweets was moving and documented a moment in history.  For some it was a call to action by many.

More personally, I read on Facebook, the empatheic comments from friends to other friends when someone feels low, or is down from health issues. They are honest responses in real time to a person who could use the feedback!  (ie. I feel your pain: right now!)

We humans have the potential to so much positive good, even on a small scale! (a phenomenal response on twitter and Facebook both over the earthquake in Haiti)   And yet, we so often squander it away on bad or thoughtless choices. 

As another friend said on her blog, in a post about facebook, terrible slander can also be spread via facebook.  Damaging things that can destroy a person's good name or livelihood are bandied about with no thought of veracity or long term implications.

(I find the "fan groups" on Facebook, fascinating and sometimes bizarre and once in a while slightly repulsive, for instance, a group against selling the Greek Monuments and Islands.  ???  The idea was ludicrous enough to begin with!! But a fan group to petition Europe to pay for all that Greek culture had given to the world??   Strange.)

Another virtual friend of mine has found herself stalked by her ex in a very unhappy situation of well meaning Facebook friends, making it impossible for her to keep her connection to her other friends and family because of it. (She had to cancel her Facebook account.)

I suppose we can't shoot the messenger which in this case is Facebook, on the other hand I guess I will say that when you are online, it's wise to take care of your privacy and choose your friends wisely. 


Long since have I been "unfriended" by the acquaintance who got me into Facebook.  (an odd feeling that- not that there were any deep personal ties, at all. The nature of the word "unfriend" feels a bit like a virtual social divorce!)   But in spite of many pros and cons, I am glad I got involved in Facebook. 

To me, it's better to go forwards rather than backwards with technology.  New things can be fun, test your ingenuity, and used for good things.   And it can be excellent for keeping the brain cells active and functional.

At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.



  1. I am so trying to keep this social networking at a manageable level. Sure, it has it's place in modern life, but sometimes it's easy to forget that most of real life is spent with real-life people in the flesh.

    Having said that, I do spend way too much time behind the computer connecting in cyberspace, one way or another.

    I will admit here that I hate all those Farmville posts I get on Facebook, so I thank you from the bottom of my heart for telling me how to get rid of them ;)

  2. Well of course you know how I felt about certain aspects of Facebook Jes, because I blogged about it...and also, in a fit of anger, said I thought it should be closed down. But I did start my blog post by saying that if people use it sensibly then it's a good thing. Security ie privacy settings are of the utmost importance, to prevent stalking, paedophiles using it to groom children etc. But I do accept that FB gives a great deal of pleasure to so many people. I learned a while ago how to "hide" the games etc, because they don't appeal to me. I do the odd quiz, but I don't look for them. It's usually because I've seen someone else do it.

    I moan about it a bit...but I'm still it can't be that bad can it?

  3. I like Facebook a lot. I think maybe less than I did but still use it as a way of connecting to friends and family. It's a useful way to show photos to family of what we are doing in this foreign life we lead. I have now conquered my addiction to Farmville :) Was hooked for a while but got irritated with all the messages and lack of neighbours meant that there was nothing happening really. So I imagine that all my crops are 'withered' - and surely that's something I don't need to feel guilty about (laugh).

  4. Dear Ms Footloose,

    I KNOW I spend wa-ay too much time behind the computer. The portability of it all makes it so easy! (I think it might be different if I was tied to a room with a fixed machine. But a laptop, with wi-fi? I'm hooked.

    RE Farmville: glad I could help- I hope it works for you :D

    Dear Ayak,

    I totally agree with you on the potential for harm. Really. A persons life CAN be ruined, or seriously damaged by specious remarks made by thoughtless and stupid people.

    I didn't think you ever meant for Facebook to be shut down, but I DO think that you are right in that there should be something- maybe laws made - that give the person who has been wronged some recourse to justice.

    Dear Rosie,

    Odd that you say that about Farmville... I was totally going it alone and yes, you do get pretty much "over it" but then I got that enormous "shot in the arm" over new neighbors- and I kid you not, it's like playing a whole new game!

    Your garden sound like it will be gorgeous, by the way! (I love the picture of your house.)

  5. I have to admit that I can't live without FB, it's like a party for me, anytime of the day. I laugh so much with my friends' posts, my hearts, my flowers and most of all my CHOCOLATE!!!

    I started FB 2 summers ago and had about 10 friends forever. It seemed like I had 50 friends overnight. I try to keep my friend list manageable as well. I don't play Farmville, but I think reading the updates is charming & cute...but I'm not going there! I'm hooked on the word games & silly quizzes.
    OH..I think you know all of this already though and I'm babbling. You're one of my best FB friends and I'm so glad that we can share a laugh or two any time of day.
    It is a vortex and I too, hope to escape back into real life more this summer.
    Nice post Jes :)xo

  6. The problem with Facebook, is... you just don't know who you can trust, and who you cannot. But then, that's a lesson for life, I suppose.

    I created another account, it is completely hidden from view and includes only my son and his circle of friends. I now contact my 'old' American friends through PM from my old account and use the old account solely for games (I'm not giving up my level 475+ Mafia Wars character!) plus to keep track of what my French friends are up to, but, that's it. I won't post updates. I have no idea where that info came from, which quarter, which sector of my so-called 'friends'...

    Just, I know it didn't come from my 'gaming friends' since all those already had very limited profile status, my security was very tight. So, that means it had to come from someone who already knew my personal info (ie: phone number) enough for me to give them unlimited access, someone from my day-to-day life, someone that I trust.

    The fact that I STILL have no idea who it was is disturbing, worrying and very, very unnerving. It's rather a sobering thought, huh?

    But, we live and learn and all I can do is chalk it up to experience. And keep a very tight rein on who I'll allow to share my thoughts, my reflections and my life. Sadly, now, that is no longer the world at large.
    Unless as comments on another's Blog.

    Warm hugs and quiches from Kitty xo

  7. Dear Kitty,

    That is the problem as once you go online, in effect- no matter how tightly you think you've protected yourself, you are still "out there".

    It's got to be hard on your innocent friends as all of them feel the angst of the problem, and they're all penalized by the solution!

    It is possible I suppose that IX (idiot ex-) had contact with a professional who managed to trick a friend into giving up the info... who knows (it could have been a bar bet!?!) All I'm saying is don't completely mistrust your friends.

    I have thought a lot about your situation and it pains me to recognize that we are all vulnerable even when we think we're smart!

    xox back to you!



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