The F Word…


Love it. Hate it. I first logged on postpartum. Not immediately, obviously, but not too long after the intense realities of full-time motherhood had kicked in and I needed a lifeline back to the outside world.

A lifeline. A strand of it. That’s exactly what Facebook has been for me, a direct connection to people I would never otherwise have known. Parents who have generously shared the most intimate details of their family lives with grateful strangers – strangers like me – entering the same crazy maze which they’ve already, successfully or otherwise, begun navigating their way through. The maze gets deeper and darker by the day. Deeper on all kinds of emotional levels, darker in that there’s no escaping the tragedy. The tragedy being a certain selfish slant of human nature, personified in all its vile glory by spreadsheets and databases across the globe and funnelled down into underfunded budget administrators’ end-of-year audits, collectively detailing how everything in our human world, essentially, comes down to money – and the phenomenal number of ways in which it can be wasted and withheld. The maze itself is impossible to meaningfully manage from the inside, by those on the ground, because the meta-structure is constantly changing. For light relief you sometimes just need to take five and log on. Or off.

Facebook 2C

The last post on my own personal fb wall, one of only three which remain there, reads:

Please don’t take it personally if I don’t text/phone/email/message/contact/reply to you – even if I’ve previously said I will. There just aren’t enough hours in the day or ‘dealing-with-stuff-efficiently’ connections in my brain right now. I’ll still be doing my own thing over at my blog but otherwise I’m officially ‘off-radar’ for a bit. Apologies to all but it is what it is. Love and light all round. Xx

It’s such a long time since I posted anything of any substance there anyway that anyone who hasn’t already removed me from their news feed might squint quizzically and wonder where the ‘Time Hop’ prefix went. My online presence is as erratic as my in-person sociability. According to Wikipedia, font of all that is trustworthy and true, Facebook quitters are,

…more concerned about privacy, more addicted to the internet and more conscientious.

I’m less addicted to the internet than I am to sugar. I haven’t quit Facebook. But I have streamlined how I use it. The only conversations I now engage in are those which take place in closed ‘common-interest’ groups. The ‘friends’ with whom I have anything more than breathing left in common also frequent those groups and we’d never dream of sharing on each other’s walls what we share with each other in those dedicated spaces. And it’s no sooner shared than it’s gone, carried far away downstream like neighbourly reassurance offered over a garden wall in the seventies. Words on the wind.

We didn’t have a garden wall in the seventies. We didn’t have a garden to put a wall around. We shared a long back yard with every other two-up-two-down terrace on our street. Except ours was really only a one-up-two-down because if you stepped into the second bedroom you fell straight through the floor into the kitchen. My parents and I slept in the same room and my Mum used to somehow ‘plug’ the Hoover into the ceiling light to make it work. Kind of. The bath hung on the wall outside and the toilet was even further away. There was one cold tap in the house that always ran brown for a bit before the water cleared and the black and white telly would periodically turn itself off until someone fed it another fifty pence piece through the slot I couldn’t reach.  I don’t remember all these details myself. I remember a few things I’d rather not. The whole row was condemned and pulled down when I was five. The social ladder was lowered down on a series of ropes and pulleys from the unlit loft and we climbed up it into a council house. It wasn’t the last time a housing department moved me on to level my home.

These stream of thought posts are tricky to write because I find myself blurting out all kinds of personal historical stuff. Matters of physical fact are just that, assuming I’m even remembering them correctly, but memories made of other people – they are not mine alone to divulge, even if I want to – in a blog less ephemeral than a Facebook feed where I control the right of reply. I delete more than I publish. Family and friends. Undefinable, inexpressible f words.

It’s all a lot less complicated on Facebook. It’s not uncomplicated. It’s just less complicated. At least, I’m discovering that it can be if I compartmentalise. I have fewer expectations of other people there and, likewise, other people demand less of me. Involvement and indifference are equally indirect and I can engage with like-minded individuals as and when I choose, according to my own needs and boundaries. The community is fluid and I like the blue. I was thinking about that the last time I was in the pool, the underwater lights zigzagging a turquoise vibrancy to the sheeny surface on account of it being so dark outside. At its surface Facebook can appear shallow.  My own page I now quietly utilise as another scrapbook, like Pinterest but less visually interesting and less easily navigable. It’s where I save stuff to read later but not necessarily keep, including the odd interesting or amusing meme which catches my eye. Under my real name profile, I’m a longstanding member of a fantastic criss cross network of local, national and global support.

You know who you are. Thank you.

In a roundabout way, the shallow end of Facebook led me to seek out WordPress, in that an fb ‘friend’ asked me one day, “Who are you talking to when you write that stuff?”

Just me.

The F Word C

 The Other F Word…