A month without Facebook – Day 29 to finish

Monday 18 January

Why, oh why, did I bother at all to go back on facebook? I didn`t miss it that much, and so far, I haven`t seen a single thing that made me think, I`m glad I` back and didn`t miss that. Some things about it are nice, but there`s just as many that annoy me, for example this beauty here:

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Sunday 17 January

4 days back and here was my first “cryptic” post. Someone was clearly upset. Someone else asked – “I`ll PN you.” Unfollowed, too, as repeat offender.

Saturday 16 January

Unfollowed.

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Friday 15 January

Facebook is a life style?? This thought occurs to me for the first time ever, but as soon as I` back on it its culture seeps back into other areas of my life, e.g. me being distracted from my studies by the internet (not just facebook) or me wanting to photograph the usual things, even though I`m not intending to put them on facebook.

Thursday 14 January

I think I decided on a strategy how to “handle” facebook from now on. I`ll not say, though, as people may feel put out.

Wednesday 13 January

That`s my facebook free month officially over now!! After considering several options (incl. deleting my profile and starting a new one, until I realised how well connected my contacts are with each other, even across countries, so I couldn`t possibly friend only some of them without the other ones noticing), I finally installed the facebook app on my new phone, updated my profile pic and also posted a pic/short video of each cat.

It felt nice to get all the likes from all my contacts. Words were not necessary. My phone didn`t flash for likes, just comments, and I`m not going to change the settings. And will catch up with my contacts online bit by bit.

Tuesday 12 January

The same things that bother me on facebook can also happen here. I had to PN someone raising her posting graphic pictures of dying people. If it wasn`t someone I know personally and for a very long time, I may have just unfollowed her. On facebook, I know most, so inhibitions to unfollow or criticise are high. But at least, you can hide individual posts.

 Monday 11 January

I had a little selfie session and updated my profile picture everywhere but on Facebook. Facebook will still have me wearing a Christmas hat, but this can wait another two days.

And everyone will have posted about David Bowie. As with terrorism etc, I principally don`t post about deceased celebrities, but posting your own picture instead would feel wrong as so many people feel affected by David`s passing. I felt like this with Paris. Everyone was posting how awful it is, etc. I didn`t, but I was going to post something about my own life and then didn`t, as I didn`t want people to think of me as ignorant.

I`m noticing how much this is all about what others think, but then again, isn`t that what facebook is all about? Image making?

Sunday, 10 January

I still send some pictures privately to a few people (for example, of the cats or of my holiday), but although quite a few more would enjoy them on facebook, somehow, their enjoyment and approval of them don`t matter enough for me to include them in a whatsapp.

Facebook allows people to stay around who otherwise wouldn`t have, and it probably depends on who we are talking about whether this is a good thing or not. Those are the kind of posts I like – they make me feel I`m still participating somehow, and me posting myself invites them to my life, too. That`s got nothing to do with voyeurism or exhibitionism, but it overcomes the constraints of geography and our increasingly busy lives without us having to “bump” people from them, while being able to prioritise who really matters.

About Poverty Porn

Poverty porn, also known as development porn or famine porn, has been defined as “any type of media, be it written, photographed or filmed, which exploits the poor’s condition in order to generate the necessary sympathy for selling newspapers or increasing charitable donations or support for a given cause”.

Wikipedia

Some say poverty porn is a good thing, if it raises donations, others feel it exploits. After a recent disagreement about the matter in relation to the internet, I thought about it for quite a while.

Let me take you back to 1990. I was 15 years old, and the www didn`t exist yet.

One day, I came home to school and found a video tape on the table, with a hand written note from my dad: “Watch this today.” The tape itself bore a label with another handwriting, saying “children`s home in Romania”.

I made lunch, waited till my sister was ready, too, and then I plaid the tape. The film was about 45 minutes long and showed the squalor in two particular orphanages. Children were starving, unable to change their clothes regularly, disabled and incontinent with not enough staff to wash them every day – and one of the homes even had its own little graveyard. I could think about little else over the next few days.

My dad told us they were going to do a collection from the church committee and deliver goods personally in summer. I was excited and fiercely eager to do all I could possibly do to help. In fact, I was devastated when I heard that I couldn`t come with them. 

Over the next few weeks, we ensured that everybody we knew had watched the video. Public screenings were arranged in the Church Hall, and I also took it to school. My granny`s house (which was empty at the time and directly opposite ours) was used to collect the donations, and it was my job to greet people and take them over the road. Mountains of food, clothes, blankets and toys grew by the week and were even joined by a fully functional dentists` chair towards the end of the campaign. We then boxed everything, and people took time off their work to fill the massive truck that appeared in our yard one day. I was there all the time. I felt relevant and part of something. 

There was a wedding on the day they left, and there was a really nice goodbye with us all standing in the garden and waving at the truck as it was passing by. They went to those very orphanages and came back with pictures of those very children seeing their very first chocolate bars, the same nurses unpacking blankets and the local dentist shaking the driver`s hand. The boy who had been lying in his own faeces had gone. 

About as much time was spent afterwards showing the pictures and telling the story as they did circulating the videos. Everybody was really affected. There probably wasn`t a single person in the community who hadn`t given. We had made a real difference, and that feeling stayed with us all for a long, long time.

Today, I see pictures online, or a link to a video, and I don`t want to read the text. I saw the same thing an hour ago on facebook or last night on telly. Their wide circulation reassures me that everybody knows, and hopefully, some will feel strongly enough to actually do something about it. I asked one person outright whether she gives to all the causes she is promoting online. Her reply was no, I barely have enough for myself, so spreading the word is my contribution. I can imagine there are thousands like her, and thousands like me who stopped paying attention. Whereever I see the pictures there`re always competing with proud new grannies, funny party pictures, cute kitten videos and tributes to deceased celebs. We don`t want to see that. I quickly move on, others may equally quickly press “share” to silence their conscience, and then we quickly move on and keep doing what we were doing when those stories intruded.

 

 

 

 

A Month without Facebook – Day 22 -28

Saturday, 9 January

As I`m not on facebook, I don`t feel I`m expected to say something about the events in Cologne, which is home. When Paris was attacked, I certainly was, as an increasing number of people changed their profile picture. Just one did the same for Mali three weeks later. He received a big, fat like, for that`s exactly why I`m not participating. I think it`s obsolete, and if you think it`s not, I think you should do it for everyone, and not just for those on your doorstep.

Friday 8 December

As the stream of input coming from facebook is becoming more distant, I am slowly running out of things to say about it.

I`m meeting a friend tonight (the one who contacted me after reading my farewell message), which, on facebook, would have caused dilemmas. I`m not one of those people who broadcast every social event there, but the last time we met, I felt I was withholding from others, who could have been upset about not being asked along. Today, I won`t have this problem. I`m not using facebook, so the question whether to post a selfie (be totally open about it) or not is non existent. I feel immature thinking about such things but believe me, it`s an issue with some.

The last time I read something on facebook from this friend, her cat has died, and I`m wondering whether I should pay a quick visit to her timeline to see what else she was up to that I can ask her about. Some say facebook replaces face to face conversation, but it can stimulate it as well.

Thursday 7 January

What would an ideal social networking site look like for me?

  • It would not offer the facility to share/forwarded each other`s posts, or alternatively add a function to mute such posts, for that`s how my timeline became full of jokes, horoscopes, petitions, etc. Keep the option to share things from other websites, e.g. youtube or articles from the internet (although I had to think about that for a minute)
  • It would not suggest people to befriend or show “x and y just became friends”
  • People couldn`t post on each other`s timeline by tagging them – you could only do that yourself. (I`ve seen tagging at parties leading to jealousy; others used it for advertising a political party or petition, which I`m not necessarily supporting, but which was on my timeline until I saw and removed it)
  • You can see if you are blocked. Yes, you can. I was blocked by someone who kept commenting on joint friends` posts, and I could read their replies (containing her name) but not the original comment. Plus, tags are showing as normal text rather than links. It didn`t feel nice, so maybe keep tags and comments if you`re blocking someone.

A lot of things are up to the individual user, of course, but I think those things would help a lot.

Wednesday 6 January 

An interesting thing from Malta. When you click on a pub or restaurant`s free WiFi network, it directs you to facebook and asks you to check in with them or like their page. Underneath, there`s a small print saying “use code instead”. (I made a screenshot for you but stupidly deleted it when I swapped my phone.) The waitress was really surprised when I asked for the code: “You`re not on facebook?? I swear, she shrieked. Most everybody has facebook, at least those who are into social networking. That`s why it is so hard to get away from it.

Oh, and another thing – there`s an app for my Galaxy S6 edge that runs a facebook stream along the side bar. Now that is unhealthy…

Tuesday 5 January 

Facebook is definitely not important. Actually, it never was, more like a bad habit – one that annoyed me, but that I continued regardless. BTW, I already abandoned “a picture a day”. There is just not something to photograph every day.

Monday 4 January 

Bit bored, but not even remotely tempted to look at facebook. Not even for likes and comments on my Instagram photos. There`ll be nothing there that cannot wait, and, btw, the 13th is approaching fast now. I suppose I have cheated a few times, but hey – just as you shouldn`t take facebook itself too seriously, the same should go for taking a break.

Sunday 3 January

I decided to go for Instagram. I want to photograph, one picture a day, and when I post it on Instagram, I can link it to facebook at the same time without actually having to go there. Is this cheating?

Unemployed!

Today is the 5th of January. The bank holidays are over, and all bar me are back at work. I`m unemployed. I stopped working in mid December, and my contract finished on 31st, but somehow, it`s only today that I feel “properly” unemployed.

As there`s a new job already waiting for me (waiting for paperwork), I haven`t signed on to claim anything, and it was only during a phone conversation with my sister the other day that I was thinking about National Insurance. The British NHS is different, but in Germany, you need to be registered unemployed in order to have health insurance, so I`ll have had to sign on for that week or two.

Even though there can be a large varity of reasons for not working, I grew up associating a very negative meaning with this word. There were two things my dad absolutely did not want us to become – drug addicts or unemployed. Through social work, I got introduced to the differentiation between voluntary and involuntary unemployment, which describes whether someone is looking for work or not.

I have been (selectively) looking ever since I put my name down for voluntary redundancy in October, but I suppose my unemployment is still voluntary, because I volunteered.

Some chose not to work in order to pursue different things: raising their children, caring for the elderly, building a new home from scratch or pursuing further education. Some chose to retire early, because they can afford it. All those people are voluntarily unemployed, but I doubt that anyone would judge them. I suppose if you do something meaningful and fund yourself, voluntary unemployment is not frowned on.

It`s only if you are receiving state benefits that you`re expected to be looking for work. This however is not so easy either. I guess we all know people who turned down a job with wages that were insufficiently higher than your benefits to provide an incentive. Personally, I think it`s acceptable for an accountant to drive a taxi, but some accountants would disagree. It`s partly for those reasons that the German benefits system was revised some 10 years ago for unemployment benefits to drop really low after one year. This did *not* however decrease voluntary unemployment, but (particularly given the credit crunch, which noone saw coming when this law was passed) pushed more people into relative poverty. I was sceptical when I first heard suggestions about unconditional basic income, but when I read that this is going to be introduced in parts of Holland, I was wondering whether this could work. I`d expect wages and working conditions to improve, too.

My own situation of not working has been pleasant so far – it fell right into the party season, so I saw loads of friends (as I always do), but for once I had time to make some delicious foodstuff myself rather than just a quick salad or bring a bottle of overpriced fizz. I`ve been back to the gym, at times when it was least busy, and dropped the extra 3lb that I`ve been carrying about since autumn. We had a week away, and I didn`t have to go back to work the next day. I`ve read loads of interesting things, even watched some telly, and my house is looking nice and tidy. I wore skirts too short to work and got myself drunk on a Monday afternoon, but now, I`m starting to feel the itch. I`m not a home bird, and although I first made sure that I kept to my usual routine, my bed time and get up time have both started to move forward. But as of tomorrow, my study materials will be available online, and then I`ll need to find a good routine between working less than ever, studying and all the fun stuff I want to do more of.

2016 will be amazing, and up until then, I will indeed be unemployed for… hopefully just another week or so…

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Malta: Cactuses

See what I mean when I said since I stopped sharing things on facebook, I no longer feel as much need to share things here? We`ve now been back from Malta since a week, and I still haven`t posted a single pic.

I`m going to start with a cactus that fascinated me, and that can be seen growing wild everywhere. This is a prickly pear (Opuntia):

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It actually belongs to Mexico and South America, but can be found in North Africa, Malta and parts of Spain as well. I found them breathtakingly beautiful and was pleased to read that you can actually grow them in the UK.

You can eat the “ears” (which I haven`t tried) and the fruit, which we tried as liqueur (very sweet, but probably nice in prosecco or on plain vanilla ice cream), jam (not tried yet) and plain fruit which are available ready peeled in supermarkets. I`d say it tastes somewhat like a water melon and somewhat like a pear. Probably very refreshing in summer (when there probably is no fruit), but not quite to my liking. I also saw Prickly Pear Weight Loss Pills for sale on the internet, but if it worked, I`m sure we would have heard about them before. :->

 

 

 

 

 

A Month without Facebook – Day 14 – 21

Saturday 2 January 2016

Another unexpected side effect of no facebook: I`m glad I have an excuse not to have to contact certain people and share certain things. I was somewhat concerned about this matter, and didn`t expect that this could also be liberating.

My sister has unsubscribed from a similar social networking site as she got too annoyed about the things that our mum wrote there, e.g. criticising parenting habits that she was guilty of herself when we were small.

Friday 1 January 2016

As I stopped sharing on facebook, I also feel a lesser need to share personal stories on this blog. I had wondered whether I`d want to do so more.

Thursday 31 December 2015

 Apparently, some people go out on New Years Eve even though they don`t feel like it, just so they can post pictures on facebook and show that they, too, are sociable. Somehow, I can relate to that. Although we often stay in just the two of us, I sometimes feel a slight pinch of embarrassment when I see other people`s party pictures. This year, we had friends here, and while I was preparing the food I was wondering to myself whether I would post pictures on facebook if I was on it. Highly likely, even though none of those who were coming are on it.

Wednesday 30 December 2015

I just cannot for the life of me decide whether I want an online presence or not. I`m changing my views by the hour. Maybe keeping facebook but becoming less active on it is the best option after all. Someone said most of the time, he`s just checking notifications rather than timeline, and I`m sure others would get used to me stopping to like and comment on their posts.

Tuesday 29 December 2015 

Visited Facebook today to send a few messages. I had said I was still using instant messenger, so people kept messaging me, but long messages are just too cumbersome on the tablet (where I`ve got an app which is separate from facebook).

I replied to the comments I received on my farewell message, but I resisted to write a new status update – I drafted it, saw that it was just positive things, wondered whether it could be perceived as bragging, so I deleted and felt somewhat sad about it.

Not the slightest temptation to look what other people were up to. Guess it would just be the usual Christmas photos, petitions and funny animal videos. One person is on a special holiday, but she just left.

Have a friend suggestion which shouldn`t be there. She must have been looking me up.

Monday 28 December

Contemplating my options without facebook. After my blog, I`m now thinking of Instagram.

OK, confession time. Although I`ve had an Instagram account for a couple of years, now, I never went on it much. But ever since I stopped facebook, I suddenly started to access it daily. And I`m discovering that I enjoy it much more than facebook. I always liked pictures, all kinds of pictures. There`s none of those posts which I more or less secretly consider as “pulp”. And even though one  may think that photos give most potential, I feel that there is less

Sunday 27 December

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I finished this book today. It was alright, but not quite what I expected. The author, fan of Karl Marx, basically outlines why he finds the Internet capitalist and therefore bad, apart from Wikipedia and Wikileaks, which are socialist and good. It’s not that I don’t agree with many of his points, but I don`t feel strongly about any of them. My concerns are about what the mutual surveillance does to our relationships, emotional wellbeing and general lifestyle.

Saturday 26 December

I found an excellent text about dressing for Facebook,  and I’m starting to understand: I don’t feel like putting much make up on today, and I don’t lose too much thought about having a bad hair day either. I make sure I’m warm enough and chose a thin pair of tights over a bare leg picture, and actually,  I don’t have my picture taken much at all this time.

(Oh, talking about dressing for facebook – my colleague was going to two weddings and a Christmas party, for which she needed three frocks in total. All those events were with different people, but one dress for all would not have been accepteable – “It would have been, years ago, but now, with facebook…”)

I send some live pictures to my sister via WhatsApp after speaking to her, which feels much, much nicer than posting to 110 people at once, most of them probably still in Christmas mode, entirely out of context. My sister wanted to know where we were sitting,  she asked. An hour later, we were still sitting there, and I followed up with another two pics of a ginger tom strolling past us. I really like those photos, as they so nicely captured the athmosphere of the momet, but I wouldn`t have put them on facebook. Too trivial between all those highly sensational “look at me” posts; they wouldn`t have been appreciated.

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Decluttering 2016 (day 2) – my smartphone

Yesterday, I cleared and packaged my mobile phone, for handing into the pawnbroker`s on Monday.

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BRILLIANT phone, which I can wholeheartedly recommend, but as I started to use it less for internet (got myself a tablet) and more for telephoning, I became increasingly frustrated with its size.

A couple of days ago, I saw the S6 edge (which I always liked, but couldn`t justify the price), in the pawn brokers` window for an amazing price (scratch at the back, and locked to my network), so I bought it, and also had my Note 3 evaluated. And here, there was a really pleasant surprise:

  • Carphone Warehouse: offered £90.oo (if I buy a new phone from them)
  • Amazon: lowest selling price for used £158.oo (with their commission still to come off)
  • Pawnbroker: offered £135.oo (independent of me buying the other phone, actually)

Really, really pleased, and will definitely keep them in mind if I ever want to sell electronics again! And I used to think they are a service for people who are broke 🙂

Anyway, although I`m extatic about my own bargain, I also want to take this opportunity to recommend the Samsung Galaxy J5, which we found for my husband. His budget and requirements were much lower than mine, and I couldn`t believe it when I discovered this phone, which was launched in June 2015. I actually considered getting one for myself. For £169.00, you`ll get a 13MP camera, 5MP front camera with flash, same operating system, AMOLED screen and interface as S6, brilliant battery life. 8GB storage can be extended. He doesn`t use it for music and games, so can`t comment. Yet again, it requires its own charger, and if you care about appearances, you may prefer something more expensive looking. The back side in particular doesn`t look that substantial, but you`ll put a case around it, anyway. As hubby always says himself: “Cheap watch tells the same time.” Final note – I don`t get paid for this post, but genuinely adore the Galaxy range 🙂

 

 

Decluttering 2016 – Day 1

First of all – HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE!!!

Decluttering is a project that we brought from the German blogging site that I and many of my friends here come from. In recognition that most of us own too much stuff, particularly after Christmas, we will rehome one item each day during the month of January.

My shoes and clothes will go into a collection bin from the Salvation Army. Was thinking of taking it to a clothes bank for Syrian refugees, but that`s so far to drive that I just wouldn`t go. I can walk to the Sally Army bin, and they will also give to people in need. Household items, furniture, books and accessories will be donated to charity shops, some things will go to friends, some re-sold (this Monday coming!), and there`s also a lot of things which will be removed the old fashioned way, most notably old paper or items with a shelf life.

I do consider myself a minimalist and thoroughly enjoy the odd weeding out, but last year was the first time I partook in the “group excercise”. It was so fun, liberating and inspiring! Part of the fun is taking a picture of what we let go, blog it and explain why we no longer need it. The blogs are funny, inspiring and also thought provoking at times. Another aim of the project is for this to be a kick start of a year of more mindful consumption – so for us to enjoy the free space rather than go on a spending spree and replace everything.

I usually find it easier to blog a day after, so here`s what I got rid of yesterday:

  1. A pair of sparkly shoes, unworn. I bought them for £10.00 at an Indian festival, mainly because they were cheap. When I finally got an opportunity to wear them, I didn`t like them any more and bought a pricier but much prettier pair in a department store. Don`t ask me why I didn`t get rid of the cheap ones right away, but they`re gone now.
  2. Same. These are the boots I replaced with those ones here.
  3. To inspire myself to run home from work, I bought an entire second running kit, that I stored under my desk. This trainers here have become quite unsightful, so as I do own a second pair, they can go and a new pair bought in due course, if I really feel the need for having two.
  4. Three scarves I haven`t worn for 2 or 3 years. I wore the green one loads and keep the wooly hat that came with it, the second two were a mistake that I never wore much at all. I think I should finally stop waiting for that outfit they`ll be perfect for.