Claire Gardner: Facebook fascination posted late, as usual

Picture: Getty
Picture: Getty
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When it comes to being cool I’ve always been a bit of a slow starter.

Take, for instance, schooldays and the massive craze of collecting smelly rubbers. By the time I’d convinced my mum they were a total must have and managed to acquire a few, the cool girls had moved on to smelly sticker collections.

Then there was the delight of finally owning a pair of roller boots, diminished by the realisation that everyone else had graduated on to roller blades.

I had permed hair the day the fashion magazines decreed that straight was the new curly – jeans when skirts were making a comeback.

Even when I was older and mobile phones were first invented, I was one of the moaning few who insisted that this latest “fad” would never catch on.

I still write thank you cards and am maybe one of the surviving dinosaurs who regularly updates a photo album with real pictures, all cut out and dated and stuck down with glue.

So when the idea of Facebook was first explained to me – I LOL’d (laughed out loud) at the very idea that anyone would be stupid enough to share details and photos of their lives with a group of people they quite often hardly knew.

Fast forward nine years or so, and give or take a mild dose of mid-life crisis (I turned 40 last week) and here I am posting photos and a few modest updates about my life on Facebook.

I am now “friends” with ex-bosses, ex-boyfriends, ex-friends, as well as several “real” friends and a few random people I’ve never heard of before. I have taken to “liking” postings and pictures and feel quite at home sending Facebook messages.

I can even read Facebook news feeds on my spanking new iPhone. And did I mention I now have a Twitter account – although I’m still too frightened to write anything in case I end up sounding really dumb.

But just days after penning my first post to my hundreds of “friends” and secretly congratulating myself on this new “cool” pursuit, I’ve discovered that most people are in the middle of a cruel and callous Facebook cull and are now “unfriending” many of their on-line pals.

Yes, while I am gaily churning out friend requests to try and boost my on-line popularity appeal, most others are cutting back.

It’s like being back at school with an outdated smelly rubber collection all over again.

It seems that people are raising the bar for Facebook friends, and those who fail to make them LOL with amusing posts are being ditched at the touch of a button.

And this simple act of unfriending a person in this virtual world of internet life, is actually having a knock-on effect in real life.

A study, carried out by Christopher Sibona, a doctoral student at the University of Colorado Denver Business School, found that 40 per cent of people asked said they would avoid a person who unfriended them on Facebook if they saw them in real life.

On top of that Cambridge University has just discovered that Facebook users like my good self and the billion others, can unwittingly reveal intimate details about our personal lives by the “likes” we click on.

And if that’s not enough to put you off from baring your soul online, German researchers found that a third of people sign out of Facebook feeling frustrated and envious of their friends, though surely everyone knows that most folks’ Facebook profile picture is at least ten years out of date and that people only write about the good stuff.

During the limited time I’ve been on Facebook, I’ve had a laugh looking at pictures of people I’ve not seen for a while to see how fat and wrinkled they’ve become and guffawed at some of the observations friends have made.

I had, however, a slight sense of humour failure when a friend posted a photo of me in a swimming costume on my time-line and everyone could see how fat and wrinkled I’d become.

Ultimately for me though, I’m delighted this Facebook fad is one craze that almost passed me by – and that until now I haven’t wasted precious hours and days sitting at a computer or scrolling down my iPhone ogling at another person’s airbrushed life.

Now, where did I put my iPad?