Tag Archives: Facebook


Walking on the treadmill at the gym provides me with headspace, thinking time, reflection periods. Today as I trudged along, working off my Silly Season excesses, I caught a glimpse of the woman to my right, briskly walking, but deeply involved with texting on her smartphone as she walked. I thought:  Lady, you’d better not mis-step – you’ll be in dead trouble!  Her face showed she was probably  in her mid-30s,  so no surprises there, I’m accustomed to seeing younger people wandering around, zombie-like, entranced by their mobile screens as they shop, walk, cross roads, you name it, that little screen has them hypnotised. But on the treadmill? This is a new one.

I have long thought this laser focus was confined to the 35s and under.  But imagine my surprise when my gaze shifted to the treadmill on my left, and there was a senior citizen, and he had the grey hair and wrinkles to prove it, tapping away like mad on his cell-phone as he trotted on his treadmill.  Yikes!  Clearly the disease is spreading.

One of my teenaged grand-children once loftily informed me that young people had to be connected all the time ; this in response to my comment on their passion for texting. She did not elaborate on her statement being convinced that I couldn’t possibly understand, because I’m so old and therefore, completely out of touch with modernity. Exercising every atom of self-control, I refrained from slapping her and chewing her head off. This is where the generation gap shows its ugly face.

And don’t get me started about couples in coffee shops and restaurants.  One wonders why they bother to accompany their partner, because there’s no personal conversation, laughter, general chit-chat, eye contact. Uh-huh. Those heads are bent, eyes riveted to the tiny screens and their fingers flying over the keys. Zero interaction between the table-mates. You’ve got to ask yourself: wouldn’t it be cheaper to simply stay at home, text as long as you like, from the comfort of your own sofa, and make a mug of Nescafe? It would certainly be cheaper!

As an aside, I blame the arrival of Twitter, a few years back. Now people seem to feel obliged to report on their every  action, trivial or otherwise. You will not be surprised to learn that I refuse to Tweet. Texting: yes, no problem. It’s very useful. And P.S. I’ve even heard of Whatsapp.  But Twittering?  I’m cosily hunkered down into my crusty old generation gap, thanks very much, and I’m sure you don’t want to know I’ve fed the cat, brushed my teeth, and eaten two dried apricots. Yawn.

I find it curious that so many friends have sent in post-Christmas reports  gushing about  their  holiday breaks spent in remote Karoo  dorpies, or in beach shacks, sans electricity, sans cell-phones, having a wonderful refreshing and relaxing break.  Note: un-connected for days – if not a whole week or longer.  Gasp!

Isn’t there a disconnect here ? It seems that a city mind-set has to be constantly connected. You have to be reachable, day or night, at all and any time, whether the seeker is your boss, a friend, a kid, a phone survey troll  – the permutations are infinite. And yet, once out in the country,  the connection virus weakens and some people even – I’m assured this is true – switch off their cell-phones. For hours, if not days, at a time.  Totally radical, huh?

I’ve had further thoughts on the topic.  By being so electronically connected, 24/7, people are disconnected from the world around them,  from people and events – life itself. Isn’t this ironic?  They’re not connected at all. They ‘re oblivious of  the natural world, the nuances of sunshine on foliage, the sudden flit of a bird out of a nearby bush, a swirl of colour in a woman’s scarf, smiles on little kids’ faces, the  touch of a friendly hand on a shoulder, the list goes on and on. Life, with its myriad textures, sounds, colours, sights, is shut out in the tunnel vision of electronica.

Yes, they might be viewing a friend’s pictures on Facebook, a birthday party, a Youtube clip – sure, but this is not the real thing. This is not here and now. This is experiencing life at a remove,  life via the printed word, symbols and mini-graphics on a small screen. Here and Now is reality.  What reflects off the oblong screen is an image of reality, a shadowy doppelganger.

Do we really want to live via the printed word? Do we realise we’re living a dream life in our heads when the entire glorious, marvellous, terrifying wonderful world is right in front of us?







Facebook: you either love it or hate it. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground.  Youngsters are embryonically attached to it, parents peer at their  kids’ friends and activities, while  the elderly regard it with suspicion or disdain. Take your pick.

Personally, I find it very useful . I like Facebook. It’s mighty useful, to keep in touch with far-flung friends and family, not to mention displaying your photos, and to share the odd article, or joke, or WordPress blog, or – even – dare I admit to this: LOL Cats.  Ahem.  Can’t resist anything kitty related. None of us are perfect, so get over it.

But my approach to Facebook is stringent. I set the timer for ten minutes – and that’s it.  When I log in, I pay attention to the first ten items on the news feed page, and click ‘like’ or make a comment. I’ve picked up useful household hints on the Newsfeed page, plus info on crime in my area. Plus more positive things like triumphs  and travels  in  my friends’ lives that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about.

Then I whizz over to my personal page info bar at the top of the page, click on the little globe, up pop the notifications and I click on the blue tag at the bottom ‘See all’ . This gives you a compressed printed list  – no pics or text – which you can quickly scan to see if there’s anything that you want/need to look at..

And then you’re done! Otherwise Facebook can gobble up hours of precious time. We both know this, so no further discussion necessary.

And so ends my three part series on taming the electronic tentacles.

Next week I have a couple of juicy book reviews for you. No, not 50 Shades of Grey. I haven’t read it, don’t intend to, not because of the explicit content, but because it’s badly written.


Filed under COMPUTERS


Christmas postcard date unknown, circa 1900.

Christmas postcard date unknown, circa 1900. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two weeks ago I did my volunteer bit, and manned (why don’t we say womanned??) the Charity Kiosk in a big Cape Town  Shopping  Mall selling Christmas cards.  Its  a dying tradition –  the customers were 95%  the elderly, and they all said “just one pack this year, dear; we can’t send cards like we used to,  the  cost of overseas postage makes it very expensive”.  I know what they mean! In  years past we all had lavish, loopy string of cards that constantly dropped the cards on the carpet.  Every flat surface in the lounge would be decorated with cards that constantly fell over … it was all part of the Christmas season.  Now I stick mine up on the inside of the front door, and enjoy the bright colours and Northern Hemisphere snow/robins/holly …. okay, I’m  wallowing in sentimental nostalgia. Live with it.  This year’s crop is very modest, but I treasure my overseas friends and relatives who make the effort and send cards.

And what about the Annual Family Christmas Bulletin , usually crammed on to 1 x A4 sheet, printed both sides in teeny font and single spacing.  There’s a detailed account of hordes of people that you don’t know – whothe hell are Robert? Jemima? Koosie?  –  outlining in careful detail EVERYTHING these strangers have done during the year.  Oh boy. This is where blogs come into their own. And even Facebook , for that matter. At least on FB the space limitations curb the relentless detail. Plus you get pix, which are generally more interesting that the news report.

The Woman who went to Bed for a Year  by Sue Townsend – contains a breathless account of a British housewife’s marathon Christmas preparations. For me this section was the only enjoyable part of a grim tale; most of the fictional family should have been shot at birth.  But reverting to the annual frenzy of shopping, cooking:  Why do we do this to ourselves?   I have many memories of gigantic Christmas lunches, eaten on sweltering hot afternoons, leaving us comatose like pythons for days afterwards.

I recall one year  when sanity prevailed – well, sort of – when my Durban family served a hot, traditional cooked dinner on Christmas Eve and served a banquet of cold meat and salads and trifle etc etc  on The Day.  A much better approach, don’t you think?

And this leads me to one of my pet hates: paper hats out of Christmas Crackers.  I hate them with a passion.  My hat never fits.  Because December 25th is always boilingly hot, I’m  hot and sweaty even in repose, so sitting at the festive table, I’m as hot as the roast turkey, I’m steaming like the veg, and my jolly red paper crown sticks to my perspiring forehead and leaves a red tide mark on my face, to match my scarlet cheeks – I’m a female version of rubicund Santa Claus. Groan.

Despite my cranky curmudgeonly griping, I do enjoy Christmas. Theoretically its the Season of Goodwill, and I say “aye’ to that notion. Let’s spread more of it, with gay abandon – let’s all be happy, and generous. Just for one day of the year – can we all try, please?