A Fakebook of Friends

Facebook – whether we love it or loathe it, is still very much what we think of when discussion is about social media. We add our ‘friends’, at times with the most tedious of connections – you both play ‘candy crush soda’, that lead vocalist in a band you once bought a single of as fancied the vocalist for all of five minutes, the best friend from of thirty years ago at primary school, and our uncle’s dog Henry; giving a whole new definition to the word ‘friend’. However, isn’t the most tedious and fake friend on the entire network Facebook itself? Although Myspace gave us all one friend to begin with – Tom, we are not all automatically friends with or following Mark (Zuckerberg), but the sheer vastness and power of Facebook, has it now become the ultimate fake friend?!

It only takes a few days away from the site to realise quite what a stranglehold it can have on our lives. Although, some cannot go for more than thirty minutes without checking, a few days away may sound like a lifetime! The ‘so called’ friends we have no longer require nurturing or effort, their lives are presented for us to see at the touch of a screen or click of a mouse. If someone ‘defriends’ us it can “oh well their loss” to “why have they defriended me…what did I say/do?”

We end up comparing our lives with ‘our friends’, rightly or wrongly’, and nearly always find ourselves dwelling on the negative aspects. I’m sure some also glee when they read of misfortunes of people they secretly never really liked at high school, as perhaps karma is calling their name. This however can also has a negative impact on our mental health, as see others soar and fly, while we feel confined to a cage (without bars). As we feel we are not good enough, leading to self-isolation and self criticism of our every move and move, as see them through the eyes of this new friend that has taken away our ability to just be ourselves. We crave likes and hearts just to be accepted by others, and some create fantasy lives just to hide the misery, or to seek attention from these 100s of friends we are meant to have, with only one answering us back when we message for help.

So what can we do? The ‘easy’ answer would be delete the app, remove our account, but that is not an answer for everyone. There maybe people we have connected through Facebook that are worth having in our lives, enjoy talking to and seeing what they are up to. Instead, take back our profiles as our own. Posting things we love and hate, if not much is happening in our lives don’t feel we have to update every week or respond to every post that fires us up or makes us cry happy tears. Keep our eyes, and not those of the fake friend that is telling tales behind our back, open – not everything is real just as real life. Be yourself always, your real friends will accept that and be there for you as you would them.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Language

On this the day of International Literacy, I think of anthropologist Wade Davis work on languages; he states that half the languages of the world are on the brink of extinction. Pause for a minute and think what that means. To be the last person that spoke, read and wrote your native language with no way to pass this knowledge on. Amazing that every two weeks on average this happens to someone around the world. Davis states that this means within a generation or two we will lose half of humanity’s legacy.

As you read this, you may think doesn’t matter, we all speak English and/or wouldn’t it better if there was one language for all, would we all not get along better then? Sure, but let’s make it Chamicuro, Liki or Kaixana. Perhaps now we can understand what it may be like not to speak our native language. For many of us a world where people could no longer speak, write or read English seems unimaginable given how much is spoken, written and said in it daily. By losing languages we’re losing more than a solitary voice in the dark but a way of life, customs and traditions.

So as we go about today, reading and writing in our various languages on Facebook to E-mail and text think about this. Also, consider not just how lucky we are to have the gifts to do so, because they are gifts that not all humans have the opportunities to learn these even now in the second decade of the 21st century. Equally, embrace our diversity in all its beautiful colours that enrich the world, even removing but one colour from the rainbow would change the world around us forever before it’s too late.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Rainbow love

The internet has turned into a rainbow fest with news from the US supreme court yesterday announcing that same-sex marriage is now legal nationwide. I have always felt who we fall in love with is a personal thing and not something we should put rules or laws upon as I respect everyone’s right and freedom to be themselves.

I am not one for labels as many of you know, as feel they’re better suited to food not people, so whether you’re gay or queer, bi or transgender, it does not matter, it’s love that matters with empathy and understanding. Even if you disagree with the judgement, why would you not allow another to experience love?

I can understand some of the emotions those that identify as LGBT because in my teens I wondered if I was gay, I had no interest in boys, and even into my twenties and thirties I was still uncertain as to whether I was straight/gay/bi for relationships and/ or sex were not something I thought about or held any interest in.

A few years back I discovered the term ‘asexual’ with regard to humans rather than plants and some of it ticked boxes in my head of yep that’s me. It is hard when life’s ‘norm’ is something other than we feel but realising and accepting that is our norm. It has been part of personal journey and now at the point I can do both.

I’m not going turn my profile picture rainbow on social media in support of the news but instead use my words to help those in countries that cannot express their love for fear of estrangement from family and even death know they’re loved too. Finally, I send kisses, hugs and toast my tea to you all with whatever love means to you.

© Fi S. J. Brown

“Look Up”

There is a viral video going round social media suggesting we “Look Up”, give up our mobile phones and computers in favour of real life contact. Where as I agree with this in principle, that is for many now their lives revolve around the internet and social media being plugged in 24/7. It is almost like an electronic umbilical cord that we feel we connected to something. Are the androids not just the phones or characters from Blade Runner but ourselves, now dreaming of electric sheep?

I saw one girl comment that Twitter and YouTube helped with her introversion, sadly I call this rubbish; we can all hide behind a keyboard and phone to pretend be something we are not. This may have helped her “speak” with people from all over the world, but for me it does not help her in the real world, which matters far more than a words from a human made device to another human made device. Call me old fashioned but I prefer a phonecall or letter from a loved one matters far more, or even a text or email to say hello.

It saddens me that we created and manufactured great things in the past, but now as great a leap of technology the internet with social media may be, are we not a standstill? What is posted is not always done with love and creativity, instead it is often done for attention. Our online presence shows an edited form of how life really is for us, for me it is like a Holywood movie – a polished, stylish, unoriginal and sometimes untruthful account of how life is really going for us.

Equally, our attention spans have decreased and people do not read properly, so a tweet or video on vine are now just the right length. I would rather be lost in a music concert of the past with musicians that felt their notes and beats or book that has not been hyped up so far by the press, that it is no in reality no better than toilet roll. Give me “Fade to Grey” not “50 shade of grey”. Things no longer last, I like things that will inspire me to create something new.

I have considered deleting my own social media many times in the last few years, having felt and seen its darker side. However, for now it is helping me give a voice, to my own thoughts and ideas, as well as to those that deserved to be heard, rather than the endless celebrities that frequent social media. One day I’ll pull the plug, but for now I’ll stay as have met some very special people because of social media, but also enjoy my mugs of tea and deep ponders away from it.

© Fi S. J. Brown