Monday, June 6, 2011

Facing Facebook a Bit

We're now living in the age of social networking. Is it good or bad? Let's see. _______________________________________________________

It is my belief that the catchphrase Tom, Dick and Harry means anyone. Hence, looking at the Facebook community it would behoove me to say Tom, Dick and Harry, including me, have been swept up in the Facebook phenomenon. My induction in the Facebook arena came at a rather late stage. As in most cases, whenever new devices and products are introduced to the public, my participation will be delayed because of speculative tendencies, fear, doubt, or being thrifty. So, by the time I was coerced and had decided to jump on the Facebook band wagon, Facebook was already considered stale by many of my friends. As a matter of fact some of my friends had already lost interest, found faults, done their tenure in the world of Facebook and moved on to twitter. There are many blooming social networks these days, adding to our busy schedule. If time management is not taken into consideration as we whet our appetites, where these networks are concerned, rest assured that some of us will become cyber zombies or even forget how to converse with one another in person.

My tardiness in joining Facebook did not deter the warm welcome given by a bunch of existing customers, friends and family. My daughters, especially, were pleased to hear of my grand “step-up” into cyberspace and laughed heartily. They said, “Go Mommy, go!” In their mind I had become hip or up-to-date. However, after getting over the initial excitement they gently asked, “Mommy, who showed you how to get on to Facebook? Do you know what you are doing?” They even took their concerns a little further. “Mommy, be careful about the information and pictures you post on Facebook.” I smiled at the role reversal because while they were being protective and caring, there was no doubt in my mind that my two daughters had used my baby-boomer status to assess my ability in handling Facebook. Besides that, little did they know that I had also gotten a glimpse of Facebook’s resume which fervently reminded me of the saying “open packie” (revealing). Facebook, from some of its contents, appears to release inhibitions but in doing so much caution, care, guidance and reminders are needed while we continue to conduct businesses on it.

I became fascinated with the dynamics of Facebook almost immediately after I had opened my account and thus wanted to spend a great amount of time on it. Maybe it is the joy of being nosy or browse-happy that interests me when it comes to this social media. It is then no wonder why some of my friends and I have termed it “Faasbook” (prying into peoples’ business). Sometimes in my quest to get away from it operations, I curse at it as if it were a living being, calling it an old idler and inveigling. A few minutes later I would double over with laughter at my layman’s psychology. Before I forget I must point out that during one of my browsing stints on Facebook, it happened that I came across a candid shot of one of my daughters which almost left me dumbstruck. What on earth is she doing to herself? I muttered, staring at her picture. She looked pleasingly plum. Eventually I picked up the phone and called her. “Girl,” I said to her, “will you take down that picture of yours that you have posted on Facebook. What kind of business is that? You look like a blimp.” Luckily, for me, my daughter is convinced that I am comical and immediately dismissed my comments with laughter. Two days later she called me and said, “Mommy I need to stop eating junk because I am too big.” At this point silence is golden so raise a glass, cup or mug in honor of Facebook because it seems as if this social media could possibly remind many of us to stay healthy and in shape.

Facebook, in my portfolio has become the modern day roving reporter. It became obvious during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti as well as the 2011 political upheaval in Egypt. In both situations detailed accounts were reported in a timely fashion on Facebook pages, leaving no stones unturned. We then had witnessed the power of this social media which, periodically, also had mainstream media feeding from it. Today Facebook users continue to provide vital information. I have no qualms when it comes to that because I also indulge. I share opinions, announcements, experiences from some of my train rides, or express my feelings about the day at hand. Facebook is also my favorite place to say “Happy Birthday” or send messages. While this is going on, I have made it my point of duty to police the postings of my children and a few other family members. Yes I do. It is no secret. I have to ensure that they are keeping things sober, not giving too much personal information that could come back to haunt them.
Facebook is like the log book of life. We should not forget that it is a part of the World Wide Web or cyberspace. This reminder can never be too much. There are cyberspace-happy people in our society, also the little workers and doers of Photoshop. Don’t dare to forget about the mischievous and malicious people that will pull pranks and go to any length to discredit people. It is because of these reasons that many people have refused to become users of Facebook or any of the other social Medias. Who can blame them? Time after time I have heard such people say: My thoughts and pictures are not for broadcast or public display.

Facebook, I suppose, in its making had all good intentions and would have received full marks for all it works if it were not for the ill will of some people in our society. There is the moderate person as well as the extremist. As far as I am concerned the rapid advancement of technology has boosted curiosity and set off inquiring minds which then turns into cyberspace-happy, a trait which forces some people to become the “black-heart” of Facebook. The name “black-heart” goes back to my childhood. The elders in my tiny rural village used to warn every child about “black-heart”. Although we had no physical description of “black-heart”, trust me, the villagers imparted the words in such a manner that it injected a tremendous amount of fear in us. Right there and then we knew that they were talking about people with weird behavior. This also included strangers. We should stay away from them and run away as fast as we could if one approached us or even stared at us. Later as I grew older I was able to define “black-heart” as evil, shady, dark, obscure, and deceptive. In addition I found out that “black-heart” could be a person of any size, height, stature, color or creed.

Facebook is a go-getter yet there is still a great amount of concern among some people regarding its true purpose. At this moment I am not indulging in any conspiracy theories as we are already inundated with many. The latest one surrounded Judgment day May 21, 2011, or the day the world would have ended according to a certain God toting man from radio land in his prediction. As expected, this did not take place and therefore had many people laughing at this radio man and his fallacy. Personal experiences seem to get more attention than calculated predictions, especially in the world of cyberspace. Experiences, good and bad, have helped us to become more aware of our surroundings and behaviors. Attesting to this are the happy and sad Facebook experiences that some people have shared either publicly or privately. The Facebook community is vast and its maintenance crew is aware of the behaviors that can malign its purpose. Hence they have become vigilant in the upkeep and are always creating ways to provide a more user-friendly, safer, and hassle-free environment for all users.

It has been said many times that there are always loopholes for those on the sly no matter how perfect things may seem to appear. Or, according to some people The sticker the government, the wiser the population. Interestingly, though, nothing overrides the good old saying: There is a plaster for every wound. Well, Facebook in its operations has come close in honoring such a saying. It can be seen in one of its tools, selecting friends and keeping out the uninvited or nosy parkers…lol. There is the padlock that stands guard. It gives a sense of security but it also makes me chuckle, sometimes, wondering if it will ever rust and fall off. Moving along, users can also set up more than one profile to accommodate their various friends. Some friends are held in high esteem whereas others are seen as just mere acquaintances. This reminds me of back in the days, in our village, when some households sorted housewares, dinner wares, cups, mugs, and utensils according to the visitors that arrived at the homes. Oh dear, what guilt. Mh! Hush! Maybe Facebook was designed with this concept in mind. As disgusting as it seems, I have a right to choose and wouldn’t want to go around sharing certain information with everyone but at the same time how safe is cyberspace even when we categorize. The choice is yours.

Tah-tah! When in doubt, leave it/things alone.

Grace Dunkley-Asphall, Copyright © 2011

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