I am avid subscriber to the ‘Magazine’ Section of the BBC news website which read every morning (accompanied by the mandatory cup of tea), provides a useful kick start to the grey matter – knocking me out of the daze that so I often arrive to the office in.
Yesterday I came across an article that particularly caught my eye (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/6943223.stm) about individuals who are not only using their ‘out of office’ as a means of delaying a response to e-mails, (despite being very much present at work), but in cases where a person is not at thier desk, it is becomingly an increasingly popular medium to boast about their alternative whereabouts.
Unfortunately working at a Local Authority most things are standardised, so the only alternative or even interesting automatic responses I receive miss out the ‘l’ in ‘public’, (although Rodney in Childrens Services obviously hadn’t noticed his ‘automatic spellcheck’ box was ticked when he signed his Out of Office ‘regards, Donkey’).
The ‘Out of Office’ phenomenon has thus passed me by, although I am noticing a similar equally frightening trend occurring on ‘Facebook’. A fairly recent member (I have been a practicing ‘Booker’ for about 2 months now), initially the people that occupied my ‘friends list’ were those that knew me well, people I see often, people who know I listen to Simon and Garfunkel in my car, who know I have not yet left my birthplace of Reading, who have access to many an unflattering photograph of me (mostly because they took them), and who know that my career in a planning office is neither dynamic or well paid. Back in the early days I felt no pressure therefore to appear jet setting, beautifully groomed or even interesting. I could set my status to ‘Amy is: tidying her reciept drawer’ without fear of being judged.
Now all this has changed.
One quite unnerving feature of Facebook is that anyone can track you down. Anyone. People that have sat next to you in restaurants, shared a crayon with you at Sunday School, copied your maths homework, have left you feedback on ebay, are cousins of your mum’s friends brother – anyone. Every once in a while I login to the ‘Book’ see if any of my closest acquantancies have decided upon a new favourite colour or have challenged me to a quiz about their sandwich filling prefences, and a little message pops up noting that I have ‘1 friend request’. On the odd occasion I actually know the person, I gladly check the box and add details as to how this unfortunate individual came across me. More frequently however, I have been added to the friends lists of people who look familar or I recognise the name, but I wouldn’t know where to send their Christmas Card to. In such instances I generally feel too polite to reject an open offer of friendship and we become Facebook friends. What’s the harm anyway?
Well it would seem increasing pressure to perform…or at least appear to. As my ‘Friends Box’ becomes filled with buff looking pictures of ex class mates and postings on my ‘wall’ appear from those riding elephants bare back across the Sahara Desert for African Orphans, it has started to make my trips to the Southsea Tram Museum seem somewhat tame. Indeed countless photo’s of holidays in Bali have been posted, someone else has just got engaged to an investment banker and is living in Zanzibar, Tiffany is: ‘just too tired to get out of the hot tub’ and Dave’s interests include ‘rollerskating around the private tennis court’ .
It is tempting to let any insecurities overule reason in situations such as these, and it has occurred to me on the odd occasion that I could dig out any pictures of me in which I may appear to be in either an exotic or death defying/adventurous situation…but that’s not real.
Which has started to make me wonder how much of Facebook is.
So I will return to drinking my cup of tea, in Reading, happy in the knowledge that there are at least some of my friends on Facebook that are willing to accept my old person music taste, own a picture of me with three chins, listen to my tales of transport Museums and acknowledge all that is truly me….
and I couldn’t want for any more.