The Facebook

Last week Facebook informed me that one of my “friends” was having a birthday. That friend was my father. We’ve been friends for awhile now, I guess our friendship really bloomed when he drove me home as a newborn from the hospital.

With his brand new iPad for Christmas, my father became the final member of my immediate family to enter the world of Facebook. Or as he refers to it “The Facebook”. Occasionally I’ll mention an event and he’ll say “oh yes, your mother showed me the pictures on The Facebook”.

He’ll be using his iPad mostly to read the newspaper. For the past 50 years he’s had a choice between the daily tabloid which is printed in a city 300 kms away and a twice weekly local newspaper. He will now move to a virtual explosion of icons and app subscriptions. In the palm of his hand will be hundreds of links to literally thousands of stories, newspapers from all over the world. As a bloke who has spent his entire life living in a rural community in South Australia, technology has made the world a shed load smaller. I can’t imagine him ever giving up the local paper (I still read it myself) but I can definitely see some additions to his reading.

It was late 2005 when I signed up for Facebook, our relationship has changed a lot over the years. It began as a way of keeping in contact with friends on the other side of the world and sharing photos of the little travellers with my family. When I went back to work it was used as a recruiting tool, and then it became all about sharing and receiving information. What I enjoy the most about Facebook now is the links, the information that gets forwarded, the jokes that are made and the insight provided perhaps from a complete stranger. I can choose to ignore or choose to read, but it’s my choice. In the past fifteen minutes I’ve read why I shouldn’t text and walk, watched the worlds coolest flight attendant, and seen a picture of the fog in Beijing this morning – it was taken by a friend as she cycled with her children to school (I used it for this blog post).

For a traveller, social media can perhaps become a little bittersweet, while it’s great to scroll through the photos of the wedding, the new nephew and a close up of the Sunday roast – it’s another reminder of what you’re missing. If you’re a long term traveller though, you’ll remember the days of waiting weeks for the next letter and gasping at the telephone bill after that drunken international call was made. If only you could remember what you said.

I remember making my way through the ABC store on each trip home, clunky video tapes were stuffed in to suitcases, we were desperate to hear a familiar accent and be able to contribute to the “have you seen it?” conversation on the next trip home. Now, for half the price, it’s a matter of a download and we’re watching Paper Giants, The Slap and Red Dog.

Can you remember waiting for 15 minutes for the pixels to download? Last week after watching my parents push their faces up against the screen while singing Happy Birthday on Skype, I felt an immediate urge to send Mr and Mrs Skype a thank you note. I wanted to explain what they’d given me when they came up with their marvelous invention.

Thanks to social media there have been times I’ve seen and read about events in Australia before my parents and friends have. Election results have arrived instantly, sporting events are streamed live and thanks to Mark Colvin, who I don’t think ever sleeps, I’m provided with constant news links from his @colvinius twitter account. The Daily Beast, The New York Times, The Huffington Post and The Guardian provide constant information, and a neat little application called Flipboard has rolled it all in to one and made me the editor-in-chief of my own little social media magazine.

Facebook may not be for everyone, but perhaps like anything social we just need to our clique, my glass of bubbles is your vodka tonic. If Twitter and Facebook are not your thing it’s possible you’re like my husband who scoffs at the idea of time lines and status updates but makes a daily pilgrimage to Linked In. Or maybe you’re like my girlfriend Penny who barely “switches her Facebook on” but is a regular on Words with friends. 

Whatever you’re up to, there’s no doubt that social media is here to stay.

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  • Janine Fitzpatrick

    I love the fact I can keep in touch with people via Facebook – the world has indeed become a much smaller place thanks to this explosion of social media and assorted devices. Next up – getting your Dad tweeting?

  • Mrs TeePot

    Really interesting indeed.

    I fell out of love with Facebook a long time ago but still use it because other people I care about do. I’m a Google+ girl now, all the way!

  • Anna Millie

    Yes social media!! I don’t know how we ever lived without it! The only downfall for me, is how much time it takes away from my real life. Especially since I started blogging. I’m cutting back though. I thought I could maybe make a few dollars by blogging and therefore be able to stay at home with my kids rather than go back to work but what’s the point of staying at home “to be with my kids” if I’ve got my nose stuck in my pc all day!!
    Ps: your post is one I never miss.

  • Tannis D

    Oh I remember conversations in the office of how to use facebook as a tool, it seemed so invasive…personally I do not believe that I am old enough to warrant a timeline of my life, I am sure that too will change.
    The one thing that is true and remains though is my addiction to words with friends..:) 

  • W Blom

    I remember someone said once – don’t post anything on Facebook that you wouldn’t be happy to see on a billboard.  I live by this rule and it works for me!  I also use it to keep in touch with far flung friends 🙂

  • L Tatt

    That flight attendant is great. Brilliant way to start the flight. 🙂 Texting while walking. Yeah … I can’t do it. I have to pull off to the side and stop. Oddly enough I can’t drink and walk either. The kids laugh at me…

  • Donnacoghill

    ‘a shed load smaller’.  lmao.  love it

  • Kelly Exeter

    I love social media – the new friends I have made, the ability to keep tabs on old friends and family overseas and over east. And the NEWS!! I can’t remember the last time that twitter WASN’T the first to tell me something newsy.

  • Bree

    Your dad reminds me of my Dad…he says things like “The Facebook” and has forever referred to my iPod as “the ePod” since I first got one, 7 years ago. I’m guessing if he had an iPad for his newspaper reading, it would be “the ePad”!

  • Kirsty Rice 4kids20suitcases

    I felt it was more a little bit cheeky than invasive. Mainly because I agree with the comment above (W Blom) – don’t post anything on FB that you wouldn’t want to see on a billboard. 

    You’re right – you are WAY to young for a timeline. But I’m very happy to be able to see your face on FB 🙂

    I’m too scared to try words with friends, I know it will be the end of me. xx

  • Kirsty Rice 4kids20suitcases

    I signed up for google + but it just hasn’t grabbed me. Tell me what you like about it and what I’m missing, maybe I need to give it another try. 

  • Kirsty Rice 4kids20suitcases

    Me too! I can barely walk and talk 🙂

  • Kathlockett

    I still haven’t got the hang of Skyping yet – although I just used it as a verb, so I’m partway there – but my father too is on The Facebook since we left for Switzerland this year.  As part of our monthly phone deal, we get free calls to Australia and he does a sterling job of playing dumb so that his grand-daughter can lecture him and talk him through The Facebook, Email, Google and YouTube.

    …..little does she know that he runs the U3A Seniors Online course at Victor Harbor!

  • Mrs TeePot

    I think it’s worth another shot. But then I use it totally differently to FB and Twitter. My circles mostly consist of photographers and people I don’t know, whereas on FB it’s friends and relatives.

    Personally I love the way G+ works because I can see more of what I want and less of what I don’t and can filter my stream depending on what I fancy at the time. Plus it’s easy to set privacy on each post and I can edit posts after I’ve posted them, plus I get far more interaction on G+ than elsewhere.

  • Fiona

    I too want o send a big thank you to the inventors of Skype. It’s kept my mother in touch with her grand daughters who would otherwise wouldn’t really know she exists outside of her twice a year visits. It lets us talk to Daddy when he is overseas for work and he can blow his girls a kiss when they miss him. Skype is just wonderful.

  • Tamara

    Clearly I love you and the way you write and just everything. But I just experienced a traumatic moment on your blog. I clicked a link to the flipboard thing ( which looks great but I don’t do phone so no need for apps) an shut out the link and then lost my place!!! I am trying to remember what month I am in when I read your life backwards but …Anyway, one small request which will actually benefit you too, please go to settings (somewhere, sorry used to be on blogger but I forget) and click Open Link In New Window.)

    You have lots of interesting links and I want to go there but sometimes I forget to do the “Open in New Window” thing myself. Or I can just try to read faster. But I am trying to relish every blog. Reading backwards is weird. Why is she in Jakarta now? How did this happen???? It’s like reading a book in reverse. I can’t wait to read yours.