For the last few years I have been tinkering with that social land mine – the Facebook account. Occasionally I cut the red wire and occasionally I cut the blue wire, but whichever one I choose it still blows up in my face.
At one time I thought Facebook would be an easy way to keep in touch with people – I embraced the message facility avidly. Until I discovered that some people have a horror of talking on it and I was put back to the ordinary emails. Worse – sometimes the emails seemed to cross and sensitive matters were revealed. I blame myself for the loss of Lichtenstein.
I suppose I should have suspected that Facebook was not going to be a polite dinner party when I started getting invitations to mindless games and bogus surveys. These have since been revealed to be mechanisms whereby I inadvertently give out targeting information to a variety of advertisers. This seems to be the trend as I see more and more ” suggested posts ” by complete strangers promoting their own wares. I am mortified to see that a member of my old profession has taken to this sort of flapdoodle and should I encounter the culprit they will suffer. Of course as I have retired from five years from the dear old game, I have little chance of encountering the swine, but I can at least poke fun from a distance.
The other clue was the realisation that some friends on the list do not know how to behave at a polite dinner party. Or a polite cocktail party. Let’s face it, some of them would be embarrassing in a Baltimore bar at closing time…
The basic rule of polite parties has always been to avoid the three poisoned topics; sex, politics, and religion. The weather, the state of the stock market, the cricket, Jane Austen, whatever you can light on for a quiet natter, but avoid the sorts of topics that get the wrong juices flowing. Any congregation of two or more people will have three or more opinions on any subject and the longer these opinions rub together, the more heat is generated. FIne if you want to lie on your back in a verbal trench under fire cutting barbed wire but hardly conducive to social success.
But each time I open some of the friend’s postings it really becomes the same thing – Labia, Labour Party, and Libya. Or mammaries, ministers and Mohammed. It sometimes gets so fraught that I welcome the pictures of fluffy kittens and children being injured by swings.
I tried removing the worst of the opinionistas early in the piece – once I detected an unchanging rant from one husband and wife team – different postings but equally disturbing – I pushed the ” unfriend ” button. I didn’t mind encountering them at real-life social events because in those cases I could put my helm over and steam away to other conversations – they were not in my face on my computer. I discovered an odd thing – while they did not re-appear in my list, I was quietly blocked out of my social club email lists – and I suspect that as one of the unfriended people controls the websites for that social club, that I will be routed out forevermore.
I was still being blasted by a couple more of the friends on a regular basis on the subject of religion. One has it and one doesn’t but both are determined that anyone within the reach of their keyboard will be forced to go adopt the same opinion. I found them terminally irritating from two separate directions. The maddening thing is occasionally they posted charming things, and in person are pleasant and kindly souls. So I tried two experiments – First I suggested them to each other as friends and told each one that the other really needed some counselling on the subject of faith…then I gave them both a rest off my page by blocking their posts for two months. I have since let them back – one is quite quiet now and posts lots of things that don’t deride religion – the other is back to the old tricks and liberally lards her kittens and landscapes with Allah. She may be due for a longer vacation.
Of course I am not innocent of harm in all this; I do jump on some postings that just beg for it and I recently was de-friended for laughingly suggesting a non PC video game to one chap. I had not realised he took these things quite so seriously. Interestingly, his mistress has not removed me from the Facebook list so I have the prospect of meeting them at social club dinners and outings. Whatever is the protocol for this? As I have received la coup privat from him but not her, do I speak to her but not him? Is she a listening post for him in Facebook? Would it be crass to tell jokes in his earshot, he being a man of sober mien?
I wonder if it was Brother Stein that did it? I must draw him more…