…the true home of social media. Sure Twitter is a force to be reckoned with, but Facebook is the place where everyone looking to regale their friends in nonsense goes. Share a meme, clickbait, a photo of your dinner or a status update you find rather witty. It’s a wonderful place for friends to keep in touch when vast distances separate them, or annoy each other when they’re in the same house. As social media goes it works great, gives you bite size updates on peoples life’s’, the news and pop culture. You can catch up on all the gossip you need on the commute to work or on your break escaping from the stresses of your day. It’s not for everyone though. If you fear your thoughts on social media coming into conflict with your career, or are a public figure and fear harassment Facebook isn’t for you. I am neither of these. The death of my Facebook would be considered an act of vanity.
I started using Facebook in 2009 and was one of the last amongst my friends to sign up. It’s been the same with all social media sites, it always took me longer to relent and join in the madness. It would turn out to be quite ironic, as I would go on to work in social media, but that’s not really relevant here. With Facebook I made a new rule, seeing how the social media landscape was changing this would be more of a guarded place. My thoughts will still flow freely in whatever updates I posted but my friends and followers would have to pass a simple test before acceptance. “Do I Actually Know You?” No chance encounters, no you were at the same night out as me and we never actually spoke. There would have to be at least one conversation that gives me a glimpse into your personality and allows me to decide would you be someone I would speak to in the real world. If the answer is yes then welcome to my madness, the health and safety orientation is on Wednesday, if you miss it then I can’t be held liable for your personal safety. As a result I’d barely get beyond the 50 mark. To be fair to myself this group were all people I knew and were interested in. I enjoyed reading about their lives and was happy to see their names pop up on my feed. Up until the start of this year I really didn’t have any problems with Facebook, it was a nice distraction and delivered me interesting stories to help pass a dull moment or two. I choose to make some radical changes to my lifestyle , one of which was kicking myself into gear creatively and this would sadly end my relationship with Facebook.
I’ve always been fond of a witty status update. I could spend quite a bit of time crafting something I thought quite special. Now maybe that has more to do with me pretending I’m a writer but I enjoyed the whimsy. My friends generally did not. It’s not that they disliked what was being posted, it’s just that they didn’t react to it in any way I could see. For someone trying to entertain that lack of affirmation is disheartening. Ultimately it’s Facebook, it’s a silly comment you had about something that happened in your day it doesn’t really matter, I’m sure the girl who posted the selfie in the very low cut top deserves validation more. I’m not bitter just disappointed.
The real problems started for me when I tried to start showing off some creative work. Back-story time. I work in a paperless environment and use a white board for taking hand written notes, comes it quite handy. I began writing humorous staff updates and making sure people passing by were able to see and read them. They were designed simple to lift my mood and anyone else who happened by me. Messages like;
“There’s been a report of an amorous butterfly on the loose. Reward for capture, please see reception for complimentary nets”
“Due to staff disinterest in the box of kittens left at reception yesterday, a kitten wrestling league has been started in the security office. Please see reception for tickets.”
The messages always referred staff to reception; I don’t think anyone believed what they read anyway and I never heard anyone say reception was bothered. Besides they liked me. Ridiculously stupid attempts at humour but highly entertaining and I did see some increased foot traffic by me. If I didn’t have the updates up quick I’d have disappointed comments from the passersby, excitedly waiting for today’s madness. Sadly after a crackdown in security I could no longer display these updates. Off to Facebook they shall go I thought, simply doing the same as before, taking a photo of the board and uploading. All my friends could now be delighted with images like these;
Bad idea. No-one bar one consistent friend cared, my biggest fan from when I was doing them at work but no-one else. This lack of interest was different than that a simple status update, this was me flexing my creativity. No one was interested, but that girl with her low cut top she’s still getting praised for aiming a camera just right. It’s heartbreaking to think that the people you’ve been engaging with and supporting don’t really show any interest in what you’re doing. So I stopped and went about other creative things.
I had been writing an Easter story I called ‘Tails of Rabbitopolous’ for almost a year. It’s a ridiculous alternative Easter origin story, which you can find on this very blog (If you’re interested you can get the prologue here) It was actually the reason I came to WordPress. I had always wanted to but didn’t feel my writing was strong enough, I still don’t but I enjoy being here too much to leave. When I started posting the chapters of my insane Easter tale, I would share them on Facebook. Once again, no interest. My confidence was shattered. These were meant to be my friends, I just wanted a little support, a like or two maybe a comment. How about a “well done, I look forward to reading it”, just something that lets me know that all that work I put into trying to entertain wasn’t for nothing. It truly is heartbreaking to know that Facebook has rejected you because you don’t look good in a low cut top. I could never understand why people seem so interested in the real world but digitally which requires less effort, there’s a lack of interest. I was constantly confused that I’m finally trying to meet my potential and follow a dream but there was no support. Now maybe I’m being too harsh, we all have our own lives. We all have our own interests and my nonsense isn’t for everyone. Some people don’t want that side of me and that’s fine. My life however needs to move forward and remaining in a rut is out of the question. You can only get so far without the encouragement and critical appraisals from your peers or you creativity will stagnate. You have to be challenged to entertain, to make the next piece better, to experiment and to enjoy what you’re doing. Facebook was now the wrong place for me.
Once the last chapter of my story was shared onto Facebook and received no attention I came to the conclusion that it’s not me that’s the problem and it’s not my friends that are the problem. Facebook is the problem. It’s not designed for creative types who have don’t have many friends. You’ll never get the affirmation you want or the critical reviews that you need by hanging around on a site that celebrate banality. WordPress had being giving me attention, these unknown figures who would take the time out of their day to read a strangers work and tell them good job. It sounds like a crave attention and honestly I do. The only way for me to get better is to have people engage with my work and Facebook just doesn’t cut it for me. It’s still a great place to be sociable, but it broke my heart and with all heartbreak you must excise the negativity. Facebook therefore had to die.
As many regular readers will have noticed my output on here has became far more consistent and my attention has moved completely to WordPress as my social home. I have made so many wonderful friends here that would all have passed the one good conversation test to be added as a Facebook friend. I don’t miss Facebook and I’m not sure if I’ll ever go back. It offers me very little that I can’t find elsewhere. I can get my pop culture updates and news from a sea of news based apps. If you want to keep in touch people can message me, send a text, email me, I’m even on WhatsApp. I’m not exactly hiding I’m just living somewhere new that is far more my speed. I’m sure you lovely readers enjoy the nonsense that fills this blog and while you do I’ll keep going, striving to be better, striving to entertain and being someone worthy of your time.
Facebook is a wonderful social tool, but with so many forms of social media out there you need to explore and find the one that suits you. A friend from work once commented as I was trying to explain what WordPress was to someone else, “It’s social media for intellectuals”. I really liked that summation and I hope that after a month of consistently posting my rambling nonsense that I’m starting to find a place and that readers enjoy having me here.
As a p.s. to this there’s been a few funny incidents that have come to light after removing myself from Facebook.
- My team at work tried to contact me while I was taking a week off because they were worried about me being down before I left. They became increasingly worried that something had happened to me when my account was gone until someone saw me shopping in the real world.
- Angry people have accused me of blocking them and that I should have told them if I had a problem with them. It’s rather funny when you reveal the truth and they have to take back their foolish misplaced anger
- People have made comments in real life that they haven’t seen any of my funny posts in a while and wonder if everything is okay. They seem disappointed but understand why I left. It seems the creative whimsy was liked, but in silence.
I hope this hasn’t come across as me bitterly railing against Facebook. I do genuinely like it, but right now I’m getting old and need to be more productive. Facebook wasn’t the creative muse for me and while it seems that the people in my life liked me being there, inspiration and affirmation was lacking. I’d love to hear thoughts if you think I made the right decision or if anyone else has done something similar. I’d even be interested to hear if you think I should go back.
Cameron D Hamilton