Being relatively new to the internet, (better late to the party than never I suppose) the whole virtual world is still fairly mind-blowing to me. I keep waiting for the novelty to wear off, but no. I suppose you might say that I was easily pleased but actually you'd be wrong. I'm excited because the internet is truly a thing of wonder. It's like having an entire and previously undiscovered universe of possibilities opened up to you. I love that all that information is right there at the click of a mouse, ready to be accessed by anyone with an internet connection. It is in a lot of ways the most significant equalizer of our time. Just look at blogging - anyone can publish - you don't need to be an established author or have an agent - you just need to be able to read and write. As an aside the internet is also a mild OCD sufferers dream. So many new things to check obsessively - E-mail accounts, Facebook, Statcounter... I could go on.
Now I have to say though that the jury is out for me on facebook. I can see all the positives and I enjoy them as much as the next person, but I'm just not sure. One morning for example when checking my e-mails, I found one informing me that a man named N had requested my facebook friendship. I racked my brains trying to think of all the N's I had ever known, none of whom matched the photo in front of me. Nope, I thought in the end. I have never seen this person before in my entire life. Just to make sure I clicked on his other profile photos and then - aha - recognition. He was someone with whom I had had a short and fairly insignificant relationship, years ago at university. It had all been rather forgettable as I now recall, except for one thing: he had lost his virginity to me. He'd neglected to tell me untill after the event, but honestly? I'd guessed.
Now, is it me or is it slightly odd that someone would just make contact like that out of the blue? I have on various trawls through facebook looking for friends, come across a couple of old lovers myself. And yes I suppose out of curiosity and fond memories and such like, it would be nice to know how they were getting on. But I certainly haven't contacted them. Why? Well because time has moved on. They could have a partner or spouse who might be less than thrilled about an old girlfriend getting in touch out of the blue, and also because the medium is so ripe for people to get the wrong idea. The problem with on-line communication of all sorts is that there is no way to judge someones tone of voice or body language, and so it's much harder to determine what their agenda or meaning might be. And so I have done what I believe to be the wisest thing and chosen to let bygones be bygones.
The next problem with facebook is requests for friendship from people who you don't even know. Why? Why would I wish for someone with whom I had never even had a basic conversation to be able to view my personal details and photographs? Why on earth would they be interested in the day to day inanities that I put up on my wall anyway? I just don't get it.
The last, and for me most pertinent problem, is the privacy settings. Now I have mine up so that only my friends can view my wall and my photographs, but I have only done this recently since I discovered that the default setting has it so that anyone is able to view anyone elses wall, whether they are friends with them or not. I wish to god I had never found that out. It has meant that I have been unable to resist a sneaky peak at my ex boyfriends wall even though it was me who originally broke our facebook connection thinking that it would be healthier and easier to move on if I didn't see his comings and goings on my home page every day! Anyway there he was looking extremely happy with his new partner. His new, much younger than me (although much closer to his age to be fair,) extremely attractive, just graduated with a maths degree, partner. Ouch. A dagger to the heart. Just when I thought I was on the mend.
Freedom of information, I have decided, can have its drawbacks after all. There are some things that you just don't want to know.
As for Facebook? It's the damn devils work I tell you.