Awareness

It’s started again.

To give them credit, it took me a while to get it, this time around. I genuinely believed that a disproportionate number of my friends were going abroad for sustained periods of time.

Then finally it clicked – a number combined with an arbitrary ‘thing’, a place, or a sweet, or a type of pony, whatever. Yes, folks. It was the return of the ghastly ‘awareness-raising’ update.

Check your inbox. Chances are you’ll have seen something like this:

“Girls! I just don’t feel like anyone is commenting on my Facebook wall at the moment, and it’s bringing me down. I feel unloved and devoid of attention. I’ve decided that we should all confuse the male population, poor things, by posting nonsensical statii (that’s a thing!) that will surely garner lots of comments and widespread bemusement.

Want to join in? Follow these instructions.

Oh, and if anyone asks, yeah….it’s like, raising awareness for breast cancer and stuff. “

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t exactly that. But I’m afraid I’m showing no mercy this morning. The general upshot is that people then post these ridonculous updates which in no way relate to the topic, and in NO way raise awareness.

Awareness of what? Breast cancer? Oh, what’s that? I’ve never heard of it. I think we all know what breast cancer is, and that, in general, it’s bad. I would be less brutal if the original message sent around reminded women to check the health of their own breasts, or to contribute something to charity, or….well, anything, really.

And I am not blameless (I am never, ever blameless.) I myself have done it. I mindlessly went along with it, not really engaging my brain, not wondering for a second how exactly this was doing anything for anyone. It isn’t getting people to donate. It isn’t getting anyone to give up their time to help, and as I’ve already mentioned, it doesn’t even remind women to check themselves. The messages sent round seem to be geared more at confusing the male population.

‘But it’s fun!’ you cry. Is it? ‘Fun’ for me is getting tanked up on pink bubbles and doing the Charleston with Cumberbatch. Not popping a random series of words on my Facebook page and pretending I’m doing something useful.

I Googled it, and it seems to be a bit of a ‘hot button topic’, as Adam and Joe are so fond of calling such things. It appears to totally divide the population, with half saying ‘what the hell is the point?’ and the other half going ‘but it raises awareness’. And sure, maybe at first it did, because it was originally about bra colour – related to breasts, see? – and might have happened around the month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

But now, cycle after cycle has rolled by. It’s January and I’m still seeing it. I apologise if you devote hours of your life to fundraising or supporting the cause, and you happen to find it worthwhile to put on your wall. What I can’t forgive is what one blog dubbed ‘Slacktivism’. I Wiki-ed it (welcome back, Wiki!):

“Slacktivism (sometimes slactivism or slackervism) is a portmanteau formed out of the words slacker and activism. The word is usually considered a pejorative term that describes “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. The acts tend to require minimal personal effort from the slacktivist. The underlying assumption being promoted by the term is that these low cost efforts substitute for more substantive actions rather than supplementing them, although this assumption has not been borne out by research. [1]

Slacktivist activities include signing Internet petitions,[2] joining a community organization without contributing to the organization’s efforts, copying and pasting of Social Network statuses or messages or altering one’s personal data or avatar on social network services.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS describes the term “slacktivist”, saying it “posits that people who support a cause by performing simple measures are not truly engaged or devoted to making a change”.[3]

Crikey. Look, this is my second rant-y post in as many weeks. I appear to be turning into Charlie Brooker, but in a dress. I apologise for that, my blog is usually a place of positivity, good humour, and general inspiring bits and bobbles. But I feel strongly about this little conundrum, and I’m going to speak up about it.

My Google search revealed many people who felt the same. The worst thing was reading blog posts by cancer survivors, saying they didn’t get it. And worse still were the voices who spoke up about the ‘I’m 6 weeks and craving’ posts. Aggressive cancer treatments can leave survivors infertile. One woman described how she’d sobbed, convinced that by some weird coincidence a handful of her friends were all pregnant, while she herself would never have children.

Please, just think about it next time. Think about what it’s actually achieving, in real terms. Sure, for a minute or so you might get a smug glow of feeling like you’ve done something – I know, I’m sure I had that when I did it. But come on, girls. We can prove we’re more intelligent than this, surely? Let’s demonstrate to society that we don’t just loll around thinking up ways to annoy/confuse men, like some sort of play by Sheridan.

Let’s accept that we’ve all done it, and it was a bit fun at the time, but that ultimately, IT ISN’T DOING ANYTHING if that is all you’re going to do. There are so many easy ways of getting involved with helping a charity. Just give a bit of money. Can’t afford it? No worries, it’s a recession – how about doing a sponsored run? Not a runner? That’s fine. Donate a bit of your time.

Come on, guys. Don’t be a Slacktivist. You know, you can still post a status about breast cancer awareness? It doesn’t have to tell the world about your bra colour/imply to the social network that you’re pregnant. And please stop trying to confuse The Men.

Peace out,

Amelia

Facebook Celibacy: Final Day

As the clocked ticked (well, ok, digitally refreshed) to 8am this morning, I suddenly remembered I was allowed back on Facebook again.

I haven’t bothered blogging about it since Tuesday, because there was really nothing to say. I barely even thought about Facebook, apart from feeling quite smug on Thursday and Friday, when I knew I was going to make the week away. I felt freed, because I tend to check Facebook every 10-15 minutes (I know, I KNOW), and I was surprised how easy it was to just…not do that. I can’t even begin to explain how much I got done in the past week, new projects, tons of creative stuff, and I was actually getting stuff finished. Here’s a sample of my working process:

9.00 Start working/writing/creating, lots of excitement and enthusiasm.

9.35 Quick check of Facebook. Just in case anything interesting has happened.

9.50 Might as well check Twitter and Hotmail, too. But if there’s an important email, just mark it up to reply to later.

10.10 Oh god! I wonder what so and so’s new haircut looks like! I bet it’s awful. Facebook again.

10.20 Actually, it’s quite nice. I think I might get mine done like that. *Scrolling through photos*….who’s that? I like her dress sense.

10.40 And I look down to find I’m on photo 192 of some random girl I’ve never met…time to get back to work.

10.45 Write a sentence or two.

10.55 Feeling smug and encouraged by the burst of activity. I might just Google that thing I was thinking about earlier.

11.15 Time for Facebook again…

 

You get the picture. It’s horrific. Or, it was. Despite not coming off Google or Hotmail or Twitter, I found those things tended not to distract me so much as I was using them for a good purpose. It was as if, by the very act of taking away the chief timewaster, I snapped into action. I’ve never worked so hard in my life.

So where do I go from here? Clearly I can’t be trusted to just….live with Facebook, on my own. I’m thinking about implementing a system where I can check it for 15-20 minutes, 3 times a day: morning, lunchtime, evening. And certainly not on my phone. I’ve been more encouraged to text or call people, instead of just lazily Facebooking them. I also enjoyed not having the Newsfeed fear: not knowing if you’re going to see something you don’t want to. Or maybe that’s just me?

I would really recommend everyone who feels that pull towards the site tries coming off it for a bit. I was so resentful about how much of my life it was taking up, and absolutely obsessive about finding out what was going on, all the time. Go on – try a week away from the ridiculous thing. See what a difference it makes to your life.

 

 

Facebook Celibacy Update: Day Two

Somehow, I’ve struggled through Day One.

I did twice, the automatic Facebook.com typing thingy, but managed to stop myself in time.

I have to say, I’m feeling a bit freed. For me, I sometimes get this tiny anxiety bubble when I’m scrolling through my Newsfeed. You have that teetering feeling of not knowing what you’re going to find out – maybe your ex-boyfriend is now listed in a relationship, and it still hurts a bit. Maybe your best friends are making plans without you. I have to say, I don’t think these things have really happened to me, but there’s always the fear.

That said, I’m missing knowing what people are up to. This is doing no good whatsoever for my voyeuristic tendencies. And I’ve never used Twitter so much in my life.

So we’re at Day Two, and let’s see if it really hits me today. I’ve certainly realised how much time I spend on the bloody thing, and how many times I’ve found myself on the 92nd photo of profile pictures of someone I don’t even know. It’s a supreme form of time wasting, and it’s difficult to admit to myself quite how so. I’ve always thought that because I don’t play games – video, computer, or otherwise, I’m fairly virtuous in terms of computer usage. But God, no.

Yesterday, I used my abundance of spare time to start designing a jewellery collection.

I do sort of miss stalking people though.

Not that that’s something I do….

Ta ta for now.

The Social Network

I FINALLY got around to watching this film at the weekend, and I absolutely loved it. Fantastic pacey writing, and I’ve been a huge Aaron Sorkin devotee since The West Wing. Also, an excellent soundtrack, well considered performance by Justin Timberlake, and quite frankly, I’m thinking of changing my surname to ‘Winklevoss’.

But it also got me thinking. Despite spending inordinate amounts of time on Facey B, I often get quite resentful that I’ve come to rely on this one site to get me through. I am quite literally addicted to it. I put down all my thoughts as status updates, all my photos, every video I like. I knew it had got really out of hand when I found myself halfway through typing www.face…. and realised I’d actually just wanted to go onto Google. Or Hotmail. Or any other site, quite frankly. When your fingers automatically take you somewhere, you know it’s time to break free.

I thought I’d challenge myself to a week without the almighty Facebook. I’m not sure I’ve ever managed that long without it, and quite frankly, I have huge doubts as to whether I’ll be able to do it this week. Still, I’m going to see if I can. I’m going to see whether it has an impact on my everyday life, and whether that’s positive or negative. It might not be the most original experiment, but anyone who knows me knows my unhealthy dependency on the blue and white site, and knows this is going to be various shades of merry HELL.

So, today is my first day, and I very briefly last checked FB at around 8am this morning. I’ve pushed the iPhone app to the back of my phone, so I can’t click on it. I’ll be blogging through the week, and will be using WordPress to automatically post onto Facebook – I won’t be going on there myself.

I’m terrified.

But at least I’ve got Twitter.

Breaking up is never easy, I know

Dear Facebook,

I’m not really sure where to start. I suppose I don’t really know what to say to you right now, it feels like I don’t even know you, but I’ll just have to try.

So. I think we both know that things have changed lately. Right? I’ve changed too, sure, but it’s like you’re going 100 miles an hour, and you never actually stop and ask me what I think. I suppose that’s a big deal for me. You don’t really care, do you? Sure, you used to ask me what was on my mind, but that all seems like a long time ago now. How about just making sure I’M ok?

It’s just getting so complicated. My head is absolutely pounding.

Something else that gets me? I used to love the way you looked. But you just keep on messing around with yourself, and for the love of God, you need to stop! You used to look GREAT. You were attractive and….well, I used to like just sitting there, looking at you for hours. But now? I can’t…I can’t even look at you. You’re so vain. You’ve spent such a long time working on yourself, always changing changing changing. Again, you stopped caring what I thought about that a long time ago.

I used to like you. I used to respect you. We were good together, ok? But I can’t do this anymore. I feel like I don’t know who you are, or what you want.

The thing is, we’ve come so far together. You were with me through the good times, the bad times, the terrible hairstyles. I thought we’d fall apart when you started selling my personal information to advertisers – god, that was rough – but I forgave you, and we worked through it.

And the truth is, you’ve pushed me away. You know how you were so suspicious of me and Google+? Well, you were right. Yeah. I went there. And guess what? I’ve been seeing Twitter for months. MONTHS. I know you got suspicious. I could see how you looked at Twitter, how you started trying to compete. Well, you’ll never compete. Twitter is my future, and you’re my past.

I’m sorry. I tried to make it work, but I can’t do this anymore. I can’t see you make an idiot of yourself.

A part of me will always love you.

Amelia x

p.s. And you know what? Your user interface DOESN’T look like everyone else’s. I was just being polite.