Monday, June 15, 2015

From O. Reader: Adventures Online

Social media

Nowadays, it seems the natural thing for people to be linked to millions of other people as internet “friends”. And if you fall out, to dramatically “un-friend” them with a simple click. “Unfriend” - now isn’t that a lovely word for our modern age! To a UK pedant it has a classic American permutation of prefix and noun about it.  I have generally resisted the temptation to join in the fun. As it happens, I personally know of a couple of marriages that were already tottering being given that final kiss of doom by someone meeting someone else whose pigtails they once pulled in junior school and thinking that if only... And of course it has still ended in tears for everybody concerned.

However, many years ago I did succumb to one of the first of these social media sites, which was Friends Reunited.

All I did was look up my old schools – especially my infants and junior school. (That’s ages 5-11 in the UK). I posted that this elderly podiatrist was once a pupil at F.E. and immediately forgot about it. But out of the blue winged a message from someone who I had not seen or heard of since she flounced off down the road when I was seven because I’d upset her. (That was probably the start of my long career of upsetting people). It comes from having a slightly uncommon name I guess – probably sort of stuck in her memory like gum on a shoe for decades thereafter. It was interesting to hear what had happened to mutual acquaintances who had been in the same class at junior school. I was put in touch for just one-email-each-way with a bubbly young person in my class who had later hit rock bottom, and then spent several decades clambering out of the morass. I guess there is nothing like a parental feud at a child’s crucial age to potentially trash their development. I subsequently discovered an autograph book which once belonged to my mother, which I had used on the last day at that school. It had been languishing in my loft for decades. All the names were there, with messages from all the other 11 year olds. One day I might resurrect my contact with Friends Reunited and post all those scans. Or maybe I’d better just let sleeping dogs lie...

I have firmly resisted Facebook. Well, actually, technically I am a member, but that was an accident with a professional colleague, and subsequently it has only been used to track down people, wearing my Sam Spade hat. It’s quite amazing what some people post, without thinking of the consequences. (That is not a reference to this blog owner by the way.) However, Mrs O has recently joined Facebook because our daughter has her own pages for work, and now she gets posts about dogs and languages and stuff. It is quite entertaining, but I think the pixie blog (plus a few other places I’ll keep quiet about here) are quite enough excitement for this elderly gentleman for the moment.

But then I made a BIG mistake with Linkedin. This is supposed to be for professionals, and several people in my profession sent me emails – or at least some automated response system pretended that they had. So last week I decided to live dangerously and click where it suggested for just one person. I repeat – for just one person. Aaaagh – the folly of not really knowing what you are doing. Immediately an email was sent – purportedly from me – to about 500 contacts – all of whom I had shared some vague email communication with since the internet was invented.

I have glumly watched the consequences. Fortunately a good number have thought – who on earth was that? – or thought – I know exactly who on earth that is – and no way do I want to be in touch again. That has whittled it down somewhat. But emails were sent to University lecturers with whom I did battle over sterilisation techniques years ago (I had better clarify that means sterilisation of podiatry instruments), and long-lost second cousins twice removed who I found and willingly lost again when doing family history, plus scores of people who I see every week and know exactly what they are up to, and don’t need my inbox clogged up with the details again thank you very much.

The information super highway. Huh. Very much overrated sometimes.


Harry H said...

Our pixie was on Facebook once, but she dropped it. She had less info there than on this blog. While teaching I also cluelessly joined LinkIn. I have no use for it either, but I've been too lazy to delete the account.

I admit I am one of those grandparents who posts large quantities of photos of my grandchildren on Facebook to share with family and friends. Mostly I just look at what others are doing and keeping updated on my friends.

The cartoon I sent to Rachael the other day came from a Facebook post.

Harry H said...

On the other hand I am a big supporter and fan of the internet. I remember back when we were using dial-up modems and local bulletin board services. One I used frequently was the bulletin board of a local math-science center for our region. It, in turn, was connected to the internet through an early mail server and list-net groups. This was prior to the invention of the world wide web and it provided me with a taste of new opinions and perspectives of people throughout the world.

I was hooked. Here was a place where I could meet and converse with people from almost everywhere. One of the biggest thrills for me was in the autumn of 1991 during the final collapse of the Soviet Union. While western news agencies were being frustrated by Soviet censorship, stories were getting out through the internet and I was reading those stories on my local bulletin board.

I met Rachael, this amazing pixie, in Second Life, and after reading her novel I began following her blog. Between the blog and Facebook I have made friends from all over. Several are British. Roberto is Italian. A couple are Canadian. Without the internet and social media I would be so much poorer for not knowing any of you.

An occasional reader said...

Don’t get me wrong – I am a great fan of the internet – research that would have taken forever has been done with a few judicious clicks, and I am in touch with worldwide correspondents on all manner of strange subjects. But, control freak that I am, I like to be in control – and when Linkedin took control and half the people it generously contacted “on my behalf” started telephoning me rather than using email (insert humorous paragraph about international time zones here) then I got sort of grumpy.

Harry H said...

Haha. I understand your feelings. Speaking of international friends, Roberto just posted the most beautiful photo of a plate of lasagna. We need to get him to post it here. It makes me hungry just looking at it.

Amy Goddard said...

As someone who received your LinkedIn email oops no less than 6 times I think I shall steer well clear of their 'services'!
I'm on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram but use Facebook more than the other two. I deliberately keep my posts light and fluffy though. I post about music (my business) and dogs. I find it extremely disconcerting when certain business associates, I've only met briefly, openly post about their deepest darkest family problems. A public place used by many for work as well as 'friendship' just doesn't seem the right place for it. Maybe I'm just being too British. ;)
Then there's the LIKE button, why isn't there a DISLIKE button? Someone posts that their cat has died, you can hardly hit LIKE to send your condolences, unless you want to be 'unfriended'.
As someone who has been ceremoniously 'unfriended' by someone who was working on my album I can say that I did get over the trauma eventually. Not the most professional way to end a working relationship though.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Linkedin is nasty. and HI AMY! sing something for us!

Amy Goddard said...

Hello Pixie, New single coming soon! I'll write something about it for you when it's imminent.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...


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