I set up a Facebook account in 2010, used it for a short while, then deactivated it because it simply didn't suit how I wanted to communicate with other people. I felt besieged with too much news about too many 'friends'. I couldn't see what was supposed to be so special about 'social networking' done this way.
Facebook was most certainly not the right place for putting my passing life and current thinking into the world at large. I wanted much more control over presentation. And I wanted to write at length in good English, eventually creating a long series of essays that built up a rounded picture of who I was and what was important to me. The Facebook format was all against this. Blogging wasn't.
I did not want to 'chat'. I did not want to use Facebook to 'keep in touch' or to 'find new friends'. I enjoy meeting new people, but to my mind 'meeting people' means actually being there with them in person, face to face, and not exchanging jokes and banter and silly one-liners over the Internet. As for keeping in touch, what is so deficient about texting, or emailing, or indeed the terribly old-fashioned (but oh so special and personal) handwritten card or letter?
I do have a preference for electronic messages, because they don't disrupt anyone's daily life. I've never been keen on voice calls, especially ones out of the blue, which always catch me in the shower, on the loo, up in the attic, or eating, or driving, or otherwise when I'm busy or just ill-prepared for them. Even so, I will say that a voice call is far more personal and immediate than any electronic message. It's the way to communicate if you want to get an answer or arrange something right now. The thing is, would you speak over the phone in the daft way people 'chat' on Facebook?
After a gap of a year and a half, I had reason today to reactivate my account expressly to look up two people who said they had published photos on Facebook that they hadn't otherwise made available. I didn't go through the reactivation process without misgivings. I just knew that I was wasting my time. I was so right.
First off, I was surprised how easy it was to log in and revive my account. Clearly it was in no way dead and buried, only sleeping!
I tried to find those photos, but found the labrynthine meanderings of Facebook as bewildering as before, and had no success.
I did have a quick read of a friend's posts. That wasn't uplifting. I thought she was selling herself short, and creating entirely the wrong impression. She had adopted the usual Facebook posting style. Her real personality was obscured. She seemed inane and trivial. I found it disturbing.
What is it about Facebook? When I hear friends speaking in real life they seem sensible and articulate, well worth listening to. But when writing their 'thoughts' on Facebook, coherent English goes out of the window. A casual style is appropriate, but I object to all the silliness of what is being said. As for the photos, well, very few are properly composed, or properly in focus. They seem snatched, off the cuff, taken without attention to technical excellence, just like the words. Perhaps that is actually the point: a rough immediacy is taken to be genuine and 'true', having the same appeal of reality TV. (Which is not the kind of TV that I willingly watch)
OK: I'm a fuddy-duddy and a word snob. I like anything written to be worth a second or third reading some time afterwards. I appreciate other people's posts when they are like little essays, or serious newspaper articles: crafted with obvious care, using a wide vocabulary, good grammar, perfect spelling, and - not least - with significant content.
Even in a rant like this, I'm polishing my little effort as I go along, so that it will flow logically and read well; and, most importantly, polished so that my meaning and intention will be clear. If I am being enthusiastic, or radiantly happy, or heartbroken, or whimsical, or apologetic, or down in the dumps, or frustrated, or angry, or minded to attack or offend, or minded to praise or defend, you will know it without any possibility of mistake. Not so with the incoherencies on Facebook.
I gave up after only an hour, finding it difficult to locate the 'deactivate' link, which was itself an irritation. Facebook hadn't changed since I last ventured into it. I still can't see what is so 'marvellous' about it. It's a confusing, shallow mess. I wasn't surprised that its commercial rating has slipped somewhat.
There is still a Lucy Melford on Facebook. It's not me. It's a lady who used to be Lucy Billington, but she must have married and acquired Melford as a surname. She's got young kids. I'm surprised she has any time for posting things.