Guess who’s back on Facebook?

I don’t know how it happened. Well, okay, I do. A confluence of influences. Influence conflued.

Apart from the general grumpy old mannish acceptance that it really isn’t going to go away no matter how hard I ignore it …

  1. A friend (real-world meaning) whose blog I enjoyed reading, but which hasn’t been updated for months, admitted he’s pretty well given it up and now just uses Facebook. So if even intelligent people regard Facebook above all others, and there’s a whole generation out there who wouldn’t think of looking for me anywhere else, and I am (as ever) poised on the brink of worldwide fame … that’s where to be.
  2. And then another friend (also real-world meaning) tells me he’s said something online that, from the nature of our real-world meaning friendship, I know I’ll find interesting, but it’s on Facebook …

… and that was what did it. I just sort of slipped in. Being a Gmail user, I clicked on his message and found myself being invited to join up through my Google account. So I did. And then it kindly read my contacts list and showed me all the ones who are also on Facebook. Maybe I would like to invite them to be friends? (Well, maybe they already are, so nyah. And in some cases, maybe I would pay money not to be friends with them but I still need them in the contacts list. This is grown-up life, children: the ying and yang, push and shove, give and take, awareness that we live in a world where all is not sweetness and light and it sometimes just pays to smile and be polite – deep, adult concepts a world away from the pimple-ridden adolescents who designed Facebook in the first place. [No offence intended to any pimple-ridden adolescents reading this, who will be real-world-meaning friends and therefore lovely by definition.])

So, here I am. It’s a clean break with the past – a new account as opposed to reactivating my old one. I let the old one get out of control. This one I will keep a tighter grip on and just use as a means to guide people to more erudite pensées such as this. It means I’m no longer the first Ben Jeapes on Facebook … well, technically I suppose I am since that account is still there, just dormant. But anyway. And any former Facebook friends – is there another way of saying this? ffriends, with a silent eff? Well there is now – any former ffriends who want to stay ffriends will have to renew the invite, though I won’t just blindly accept invitations from anyone; there are people I can live without being ffriends with even if they happen to be friends. No offence, just … you know. And if you don’t know, learn.

Onwards with the big adventure … and I’ll try to ignore Twitter. Really, really hard.

Facebook gets its man

You can run from Facebook but you can’t hide. Middle Godson’s father tells me:

“You now have a Facebook page: because people like me have said that we like your books in our facebook profiles.”

Well, whoever the other guy is, thanks to both of you and I will try to be worthy of your trust.

I have occasionally thought of reviving my Facebook account. I could defriend-

[Defriend? How the hell did that word ever become meaningful? If language shapes cognition – the jury will always be out, but face it, it must do to at least some degree – then a whole generation is growing up with the idea that one of the priceless treasures of being human, the ability to have friends, is something that can, nay should, be ended with the click of a button. It’s a horrible, horrible word. If Facebook is ever hauled before some kind of Nuremberg for the crimes of society, this will be the first item on the charge sheet.]

– everyone I rashly signed up with in the early days when everyone was doing it, change my status to “writing” and leave it at that. This would be a way of dealing with all those people who start a conversation with something like “are you writing anything at the moment?” or “how’s the writing going?”

To which the best answers are respectively “yes” and “fine, thanks, how’s the marriage?”, though I’ve never quite had the courage to use the latter because I know they’re just trying to be friendly and wanting to have a conversation, and it would be like kicking a puppy. The implication of the latter response is meant to be that the question is far too personal and complex for the kind of short-term small talk they’re thinking of.

But, speaking of writing, this is my morning pre-work writing time so I’d better get on with some. I’m within 20 pages of finishing the current Work-in-Progress’s final comb-through. See, I’m sharing information already.

The Face of the Other

So there I was idly reinforcing my insecurity complex by Googling my own name when my eye is snagged by one of the search results: “Ben Jeapes is on Facebook”.

To which Ben Jeapes’s immediate reaction was “no he flaming well isn’t, for reasons chronicled elsewhere but revolving around having a life.” Then I looked a bit closer and I thought, oh, so that’s him.

For there are in fact two of us, as I discovered a couple of years ago. There’s little danger of our being confused as Junior is, so far as I can gather, a pupil at Gravesend Grammar School. And he seems to be quite good at sport, which is why his name gets onto the school website and hence Google in the first place. I wish him well in life; I only ask that if he goes into writing, please could he use a different name. Unless he becomes wildly successful and attracts millions of devoted fans who will buy anything with that name on the cover, in which case please use the name you have with my blessing.

And now I know what he looks like, and if I had a good memory I could name his friends. This all happened yesterday. Recreating the search conditions today fails to get the Facebook link back. Did Facebook release it into the public domain by accident? I’ve tried going to Facebook with the intention of searching, but they expect me to sign up even to do that much. So take my word for it, he seems a sound, outstanding fella as befits anyone with such an illustrious name.

On a COMPLETELY different topic – except that it relates to online privacy, which isn’t completely tangential to the subject at hand – see this page from the ACLU for proof (if it were needed) that you can have too much information.