Tuesday, 7 August 2012

To Facebook or not to Facebook, that is the question


My name is …….and I am a member of Facebook. That is the general introduction you make when you are involved in a group of addicts, whether it be for drugs, alcohol or anything else. In this case it is a simple social site to enable contact with others, perhaps sharing the same interests or being from the same area.

So are we addicts – well sort of, let’s be honest, if you belong, you look in daily perhaps, even if only for a couple of minutes, but you want to see who was there, what they did and perhaps what they have to tell, or confess. I noticed that after almost every sentence, or at the beginning the letters LOL are mentioned. Meaning “laugh out loud” and putting everything into a friendly atmosphere.

Of course, if you happen to keep your computer running all day, even if you are not there, it does give the impression that you are a 200% addict, always being on line and waiting for a chat. I must confess I am a bit lazy and never sign off from the chat box, as I also do in Multiply, so it may give the impression that my family are starving, due to no meals being cooked, the place looks a mess because I no longer do any housework, and I am not available for a friendly chat, as I am waiting for the next happening in Facebook. Sorry to disappoint, but it is mostly a lonely computer, being neglected because I am busy doing my housewife duties. I do shut down for a couple of hours in the morning, generally when I go shopping. Surprise, I do not buy on line, in Switzerland it is too expensive to have the stuff delivered.

There are of course games to play in Facebook. You have a farm, a restaurant, a flat and house in a fictive town, and may even be stranded on an island paradise. There is even the chance that you can dig for treasure. The possibilities are infinite. Of course you have to pay your way in the games, generally with so-called coins, which are free and which can be earned. Perhaps by milking your cows, sowing your crops, feeding your customers in the cafe or working in the factory in the town where you have your apartment or house. There is also the possibility to buy something special, not for everyone, but that is the part when you are invited to supply your credit card details. There was a case in England of a schoolboy that decided his farm should be one of the best, and he “borrowed” his mother’s credit card, running up a debt which shocked his mother. Something I do not make use of, need my money for real things in real life.

Then of course, there are the safety problems in Facebook. You are open to attack from the virtual world. It may be a scam or a virus. Basically if you play Facebook, you should be aware of the fake notices where wonders are offered on the gaming side. Free cash, free chicken coups (where you are only allowed one) and a special way to be the best. Some Facebook members make a point of warning everyone about these problems, leading to the fact that half of your neighbours post the same warning. They mean it well, but sometimes it seems to me they are just writing stuff that they do not know where it came from or why. Ask them and they say, we got it from someone else.

Coming to the point “Who are these neighbours”. Some might be genuine friends with a face, a voice and who you actually know. Others you may pick up on the way, not knowing them personally, but generally you can check who they are by seeing that they have a few friends that you also have. Some are useful as gaming partners. Eventually you have quite a colourful mixture from all over the world. You send each other gifts, you might make a few funny comments, and the good old “LOL” is often seen.

There is the other side of Facebook, which I am constantly being reminded of by friendly people wanting to warn me. I am 64 years old, have had a computer in the days when DOS was the normal thing, and we were one of the first with Internet and E-mail. So now we are talking about private information leaks in Facebook. That the Facebook people have the cheek to release my private details further. To whom they release it I am not sure. The Google problem has been solved for some time by taking a special tick out of a box. Admittedly there is some truth in this; otherwise there would not be a sort of mass hysteria which has broken out about this problem. But what is the information they are giving out. Personally when I entered Facebook, I just put in details about myself which did not bother me for others to know. I did not put in my monthly income, my address, where I work, what my blood group was etc. etc. I entered details that I did not care about others knowing. On a social networking site, it is clear that anyone anywhere can look at what you have entered. And as I said, at the age of 64, I don’t really need anyone to tell me the dangers that could appear on the internet horizon. If Facebook give the information further, then ok. Either I stop Facebooking or I carry on. Thank goodness that is still my own personal decision.

So as everything, in small doses is OK, but just don’t overdo it.

Why did I join – quite easy. My son has been working in Brussels for the last three years and on this first break at home he told me he was in Facebook. So what son can do, can mum as well. He soon asked me why I had more colleagues in Facebook that he did. This was three years ago, since then he has overtaken me and has more than double as many as I have. Mum could keep an eye on son in Brussels over Facebook and son could keep an eye on mum. In the meanwhile Mr. Swiss has joined the happy Facebook family, but on a very small scale.

So what more is there to say, I am in Facebook, will stay in Facebook and the big bad Facebook people are not scaring me (yet). Did I mention I found a long lost dear schoolfriend in Facebook that I had not seen since she emigrated to Australia with her family at the age of 10 years.

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