I was going to refer to my evolving usage of social media, but since I created a Twitter account years ago and never logged into it, my usage is limited to Facebook. I have found it interesting how this has changed over the years.
I created a Facebook account around 2009 (I think – that’s when I started using it anyway). I was sitting in an internet cafe, in dire straits living in Muizenberg, Cape Town. I was there to research rehabs, since I knew nothing about them, and desperately wanted to get out of my situation. But I was too high to really make much progress, tweaking my stupid head off, and so I created a Facebook account in another tab. And thus it began.
At first, thanks to my details, my age, location, school history and so on, I was connected to extended family, old school friends, and acquaintances right away. And it remained like that for a while.
I went to rehab, then returned to the world about three months later. Then did OK in my initial nine months clean, and made more friends. Then relapsed for nearly three years, and finally cleaned up for good in September 2013.
It was only really after that, that my usage of Facebook, and the internet in general, changed quite drastically. My interest in skepticism, which had been increasing since about 2010, finally blossomed into something more, having grown to a point where I needed more than simply reading about atheism and skepticism. I needed to connect to like-minded critical thinkers.
First came the blogs, besides my own… on skepticsm and atheism, conspiracy theories, and science based medicine. The latter is still one of my favourite subjects. Not only the debunking of medical pseudoscience, but the writing of skeptics who are also doctors and scientists, is fascinating. After that came the debate groups. Atheism verses theism mostly, and of course several atheist groups.
It was in those groups that I friended many other atheists from all over the world, and my friends list reached about 400.
Something funny happened along the way… many of those old school friends and acquaintances unfriended me. One guy, who wasn’t even a friend but had followed me, responded to atheism memes with “This has no place on Facebook” and “I’ve had quite enough of this”. How bizarre! The man is not exceptional, not what I would call a thinker, and certainly not a friend. Instead he was one of those people I knew in school who cruised through high school, doing well enough because he’s not stupid, but never really saying a word of his own. I don’t imagine he’s doing much better now. Sure, he’s well of financially. But I’d rather be someone who has a voice. Not some twat just like everybody else, accepting my religious indoctrination and conflating the subject of my beliefs with my very identity; then passing on my indifference to my children.
It’s amazing that some people think they can tell everyone else how they’re supposed to use social media. Many people use it for social activism. So I use mine for everything, personal stuff as well as connecting with fellow critical thinkers, and criticism of faith based belief systems. And of course memes. Reams of memes. If you don’t like it, unfriend, unfollow, stop fucking thinking if you don’t like it. You’re your problem, not mine.
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to try an experiment. I started adding suggested friends. At first if we had more than five mutual friends, that was good enough for me. Then 100 mutual. But the more I added, the more there were to add. Now there are suggested friends who have as many as 300 mutual friends, who I have never met. I don’t know how much longer I’ll keep adding them, but I do see now how easy it is to reach 5000. I have just over 1000 now, and maybe I’ll calm down with adding new ones. But it is interesting – there is a different dynamic when you have more friends. For one thing, if you want people’s opinions and post a status asking for comments, you get lots of them. If you want validation and reactions, post something funny. And being connected to plenty of smart people means you get to learn from them. I love my Facebook friends.
You can never have…