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Number 3A, Facebook, cont’d.
After several years of firmly rejecting Facebook as the Devil’s app (or the Devil’s social media networking service, to be strictly accurate), circumstances forced my hand. There was just so much happening on Facebook that I was missing out on. Party invites, plans, photos, even pubs, that last included, not just because it begins with a ‘P’, but also because it’s a genuine example. A friend of mine is the administrator of a Facebook group called “The Sofa Arms”, a virtual pub to which single people can resort when they are sitting on the sofa at night enjoying a quiet glass of wine and fancying some company.

When, as happened to me, you are sitting in an actual pub listening to all your friends talking about the decor in an imaginary pub, and you have to have to have it explained to you that in reality it has neither a billiard room, a library nor a Turkish bath, converted from the erstwhile ladies’ snug or not, because in reality it all only exists in a bunch of exchanges on Facebook, when this happens, you start to feel, well, old-fashioned. And not just old-fashioned in a good way, like, say, insisting on proper grammar and the correct use of apostrophes on grocers sign’s, but old-fashioned in the sort of way that you might be if you insisted on wearing corsets for fear that your insides would otherwise sag into your lap due to ladies’ stomach muscles being notoriously weaker than tissue paper, rather than resorting to Lycra to hold in your insides in the modern way like the rest of your sex. And thus I became a Facebook convert, and discovered a world of fun.

I guess I’m lucky in the sense that all of my friends are fun and interesting and so are their Facebook updates. I love seeing how people are doing and what they’re up to. Hell, I love seeing how I’M doing and what I’m up to, especially in other people’s posts. To misquote Oscar Wilde, the only thing worse than being tagged on Facebook is not being tagged on Facebook. It feels good when people tag me, or when they mention me in a comment, or even when they ‘like’ something of mine, knowing that my friends have given me a momentary little thought, however fleeting. And they are my friends; most of the people I’m friends with on Facebook are also friends in real life. Some are people I’ve reconnected with via Facebook; friends I knew at school who have come back into my life via Facebook. Far from feeling like a cheat, knowing what people are up to makes me more likely to want to see them in the flesh rather than less. Some are people I knew already but to whom I’ve become closer as a result of connecting on Facebook.

And then there are the new connections, many around swimming. I’ve made at least one new, real life friend via Facebook, and I feel there are lots more out there. There are some wonderful swimming related groups and lots of people who happily arrange to meet and swim with others all round the country via Facebook. It’s a comforting thought, that I could probably go most places in the country, if not the world, and, via Facebook, find good places to swim and new friends to swim with. Plus Facebook has also brought me lots of laughs, lots of “ahhh!”s and even quite a few bits of wisdom that I wouldn’t otherwise have found. And to be honest, I’m not that worried about Big Data; at present, the personalised sponsored posts which Facebook is offering me are mostly for electronic dog collars and hair loss clinics in Wembley, which leads me to believe that they don’t know me quite as well as they think they might.

More tomorrow.