Facebook: Friend or Foe?

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BBC

[By Pip]

If I’m being honest, I’d quite like to ditch Facebook. It is an insidious beast that is quietly evolving into little more than a virtual Speaker’s Corner and platform for egocentric self-promotion. So is Facebook actually actually bad for you?

I believe that it can be damaging, feeding insecurities in both our personal and professional lives and encouraging discontent.

A friend recently said to me “I don’t go on Facebook much these days, its full of people with their happy lives.”

How many of us know a young person (and I’m afraid they are usually young women) who posts endless pouting selfies, designed to elicit comments such as “wow, you are so beautiful”. Should our young people really be judged on looks alone? Aren’t we encouraging an increasingly shallow society and pandering to a celebrity culture where children grow up wanting to be famous?

And it’s not just our personal feed that can cause anxiety. It’s normal when starting out on a new venture to feel insecure. “Do I have a good idea?” “Is my product rubbish?” “Am I pitching it right?” “Will anyone want to buy my service or follow my blog?” When you create a business page on Facebook you are provided with statistics on how that page is performing: how many people have engaged with your latest post and who ‘likes’ it or has chosen to ‘hide’ your page. Checking the stats can quickly become an obsession leading to enormous self-doubt. It can feel very personal, chipping away at your self-confidence and leading you to ask yourself “Why don’t my Facebook ‘friends’ like what I’m doing?”

Love it or loathe it; live your life on it or sit silently stalking others; Facebook is one of the most powerful phenomena of the modern age, and as a marketing tool it is almighty with the potential to reach thousands of people in just a few clicks! So as a Blogger and small business owner I’d be shooting myself in the foot if I did ditch Facebook!

I haven’t even touched on trolling, its potential for cyber bullying or the impact Facebook has on face-to-face engagement. And then of course, there’s terrorism – but’s that’s a whole other story. In the meantime, I’d be really interested to hear what others think…

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Not Going Out…

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Pip Art
If you’re British, female and above a certain age, then I’m guessing that Absolutely Fabulous figured somewhere in your past although I don’t think I’d have been able to keep up with Ab Fab’s Patsy and Eddy even in my heyday. Remembering back to my late teens and early twenties, my friends and I would drive around town when the pub closed looking for somewhere to go because it was only midnight! These days a night out is usually over by 10.30 pm.

Despite living in the heart of a historic university city with a plethora of restaurants and pubs on my doorstep, I think I prefer not going out. Everywhere is full of binge-drinkers, students or the studiously hip. I can’t remember the last time I went to a club but then to be honest I was never a clubbing sort of a girl. I’m not a huge fan of pubs anymore either, they are always too hot and crowded and as anyone over 50 will know, the ears aren’t what they used to be and ambient noise makes it virtually impossible to hear anything that is being said. I like to hear the conversation and so when I do socialise it’s usually in smaller, more intimate groups.

Take my wonderful Stitch & Bitch group that meet regularly to discuss everything from problems with our children or the boss who is giving us a hard time at work to whether we’ve got the time to yarn bomb the new bollards in the pedestrian centre.

Sounds a bit tame? Not at all – when women get together they can be brutally honest, emotionally supportive and sometimes almost wet themselves with laughter. The wine flows freely and yes, sometimes we even have a bitch!

The honest truth is that once you get to a certain age social activities dwindle simply due the fact that you are too bloody knackered at the end of a working day to be bothered! I’ll go to a gig but not as often as I did once upon a time, and even though I live within spitting distance of a fantastic little art-house cinema, I rarely go to the movies. I like eating with friends but coordinating our diaries to arrange a dinner party is a logistical challenge that sometimes needs planning weeks – if not months – in advance. As for parties, do people still throw parties nowadays?

The biggest downside to not going out? I’ve a wardrobe of “going out” clothes that never get an airing!

[Pip]