It took me quite a while to join FB after it started, as I am a very private person and do not like having my whole life open to scrutiny by the general public. Eventually though, I realised that social networking could be a positive thing and joined - something I waffle between being very glad about and wanting to kick myself very hard in the butt for!
While one is able to control certain aspects of privacy, there are others that are beyond your control, like when people “tag” you - you have no control over where that post or pic shows up and this, for me, is not cool. I usually “untag” myself as soon as I have read the post/looked at the pic in a vain attempt to maintain at least some form of privacy, but am not sure how much that helps…
Then, of course we have the “runaway mouth syndrome” wherein individuals seem to think that because they are on the internet (anonymous or not) they can say exactly what they think. This can turn even the most beautiful, helpful, spiritual or just plain feelgood post into something that makes one wanna puke when you read it.
Get a grip, People!!! If it does not affect you/was not aimed at you/you cannot say something positive (unless it is politics) just ignore it! If you feel you HAVE to comment, keep it clean; nobody wants to read your foul language, and for Heaven’s Sake, USE English or at least a recognisable language, not unintelligible SMS-Speak!
Why people feel that just because we can now communicate on a global platform, whether we know the person or not, it is acceptable to forget such things as manners and common courtesy is beyond me. Actually, this is currently an overall theme globally; the total lack of manners, respect and compassion for others, and not only on the internet. When did we become such an unfeeling species?
Fortunately, there are some really great redeeming features, like being able to find and stay in contact with friends who live overseas, and to meet new people and expand one’s horison from the comfort of your own home/office. I have met some wonderful people over the years that I would never have had the internet not been there.
I also make a living from the internet, as I am a writer, and do most of my research and work online; this allows me to work from home, which is a boon in South Africa!
One of the other great features of FaceBook is pages like Traffic Fines, Cameras & Updates, of which there is a separate page for each province. I belong to Traffic Fines, Cameras & Updates in Western Cape, and what I love is the compassion and helpfulness on the page. It currently has in excess of 103 000 members, and has helped thousands of people find lost belongings, recover stolen cars, avoid areas where there are riots/protests, avoid accident pile-ups, etc. etc.
It is also a constant reminder of all the problems in our country, as it is not only for reporting about traffic, but also about crime. Sometimes reading the continual posts about gang-wars and heists, holdups and other crimes can be daunting, but it also makes me glad to be safe and gives me an insight into what others go through every day.
I have great compassion for those who live on the Cape Flats, as they are going through hell with the gangs and I empathise with them, especially those who are trying to raise families in-between the gunshots!
This morning I opened my page to see a plea on the Traffic Fines, Cameras & Updates in Western Cape page from a young lady on her way to a new life in Durban, who was pleading for help because she and her young daughter were stranded on the side of the road near De Doorns… in the dark of the early morning hours...
The members jumped in and helped in any way that they could, sharing the post, phoning people in the area who could possibly help, and just continuing to communicate with her via the feed. When she said that her airtime was up a kind gentleman named Jon McGowan immediately transferred R100 airtime onto her cellphone - what a kind gesture, and what a relief to her! Fortunately the SAPS went out to help her and managed to get her car started and escorted her to a garage in the town.
VIVA members of Traffic Fines, Cameras & Updates in Western Cape, and VIVA Mr. T for starting and running the pages for so many years!
It is THIS type of compassion and help (fortunately seen quite often on various pages) that makes me love FaceBook and more so, love the people of my country, South Africa.
There are loads of great, compassionate, loving, spiritual, funny, supportive and just plain AWESOME people in the world, and I am fortunate enough to be friends with many of them, in life and on FaceBook.
Therefore, I am lucky/doomed to continue my love/hate relationship with FaceBook. I tell myself that as long as FaceBook is serving me and not the other way around it is okay… ;-)