So I’ve proven a shocking blogger, absobloggy shocking, and not wanting to shirk responsibility, I blame Facebook. I’d sworn never to sign up with Facebook because I knew I would become addicted and it would rob me of precious time spent writing another book, reading someone else’s, or just hanging out with my husband and our seven year old son building the latest Atlantis Lego Turbo Submarine together. But my publisher, publicist and agent all agreed: You just can’t be an author these days and expect to sell books without a Facebook page, a Blog and a Twitter account. So I gave the first two a try. If I was as funny and entertaining as Stephen Fry or Marieke Hardy every twenty minutes, I might have given tweeting a red hot go. But I’m not.
So, after three months on Facebook (including setting up a personal FB page in order to launch the professional Author’s Page) I’m only just coming up for air now. The Author’s Page isn’t the problem. (Quite the opposite – I love hearing from my readers and wish I could have them all over for lunch!) It’s the other one that traps me for hours and hours on end. I’ve lost weekends inside this enormous nonstop party on the ‘interweb’ as my mother once called it. If I’m not careful I can spend hours browsing through my Friends’ photo albums, reading their funny comments, adding my own, ‘liking’ their favourite YouTube footage of bewildered animals, or children who’ve consumed too much sugar… or both. And sadder still is that I seem to have taken Tom with me. Before FB (when I thought Zuckerberg was somewhere in Austria) Tom and I would actually speak to each other after dinner. Now we sit at our computers in separate rooms and post messages on each other’s walls even asking for cups of tea. It’s just not right.
Less time consuming but more confusing is the ‘friending’ business. When my good friend Annie kindly helped me get started, she sent some kind of mayday call out to her FB friends suggesting, if they knew me, that they befriend me, and in just one day my dance card went from sparse to bursting. I’d never witnessed such a tsunami of emails in my life. I thought my iPhone was going to ixplode! ‘Yes’, I kept answering. Confirm Angie! Confirm Nicki! Confirm Alan! Confirm Torville! (Torville? Who the hell’s Torville?) Confirm Di. Confirm Steven. What larks, Pip! And oh look it’s Pip! Confirm Pip.
The next day I was sitting on the Rafters‘ bed, as we sometimes do on the Rafters set, when one of my lovely colleagues (now a FB friend) congratulated me on my amazing popularity – having acquired over a hundred friends in one weekend! Somewhat sheepishly, I admitted that some of my FB friends I didn’t actually know…very well…or even… at all… (and asked if she’d ever heard of a Torville). We were discussing where one should draw the line when it came to accepting friend requests on Facebook.
‘Someone once said to me,’ she said, ‘that you should only be Facebook friends with a person you’d have coffee with.’
And was that what she did?
My friend nodded with the sagacity of someone who could sleep at night, who knew for sure that someone called Torville wasn’t now flicking through photos of her family frolicking half naked on a beach in Fiji last July. I liked the coffee test. It meant you didn’t have to keep changing your Privacy Settings. And then I began asking other people how they dealt with Friend Requests on FB? Some befriended only their actual friends, some included acquaintances as well, and others just went friend-crazy. As I watched more requests come in from people who’d ignored me at school, from actors I’d once auditioned with, from kind theatre ushers who’d possibly helped my mum to her seat and children of ex-employers, I began to panic. I was contemplating whether or not to send them a very polite thank you explaining my coffee rule, when I got poked.
“What do I do?” I asked Annie over the phone, hiding where my laptop couldn’t see me.
“Poke him back.”
“But I don’t even know him!”
“Well, look him up and see if he’s poke-back worthy.”
I did, and had not one clue who my Poker was, so decided not to.
Anyway people, this is why I’ve been such a lousy blogger. But now that I’ve got my social networking finally under some sort of control (and Tom knows that if I’m on Facebook for more than one hour he’s to come into my study and throw a bucket of cold water over me) I think the Blog’s going to get much more attention. Unless I have absolutely nothing interesting to say, in which case I’ll suggest we all read someone else’s!
… like Karen Powers’ for example!
Karen is the kind of contagiously inspired teacher librarian we need more of in our schools, and I know, cause my mum was a committed teacher librarian too. On her Big Bookcase website, Karen promotes reading for the love of reading, and her 10 Reading Rules to help turn your child into a reader is compulsory reading for every parent. (I especially appreciated Number 6, as I needed a gentle slap there…). She also regularly reviews and recommends books, and yes, I’d be recommending Karen’s Blog/Website even if she hadn’t said nice things about How Now Brown Frau. On this page.
Ok. Blogging off now. Thank you for your kind patience, and please come back for more soon. Or else stay and tell me about your Facebook experience, or how you get your children to read, and enjoy reading.
6 thoughts on “I blame Facebook”
Hurrah! FB is a vortex… many an hour of my life have I wasted, torturing myself by looking at pictures of old school friends (with whom I’m not even FB “friends”, but they don’t have their privacy settings sorted, so what can I do?) and their renovations/children/spouses/holidays in Cuba etc etc. Comparanoia is rife. Or is it just me?
Anyway, wanted to tell you that I am part way through How Now Brown Frau. It’s fab! I am up to where you’ve just been wheeled into the operating theatre. Heavens to betsy, you are one brave woman! I think you deserve a medal!
Now I’m off to ‘like’ your FB author page!
Hi Jenny, glad you agree. I loved ‘comparanoia’ and might have to add to other favourite mash-ups like greedaholic, Westfieldphobic and totally buggerfied (last two came up with collapsed on couch after Christmas shopping at Westfield). I loved writing those chapters about giving birth in Germany, as it was very theraputic to find the humour in a situation that wasn’t that funny at the time.
Thanks so much for writing to me, Jenny, and for liking me FB page.
Great blog Merridy, very funny. Ailsa sent me over. Kinda via fb. Though I have to say, as one of your fb friends, that you don’t post very much for someone eligible for the bucket of cold water!! You must be chatting to people I’m not friends with ….. How bout coffee? I know a terrific cafe in Strath Creek ….
Hi Shaunna, and thanks for tuning in. Having looked up your beautiful Pavilion Cafe Bar in Strath Creek, and read about Ailsa’s book too (seems like both of you have had enormous journeys…) so yes, sometime soon I’d LOVE to come down and see you for a coffee, cake and giant catch up!
I have just finished reading your book “how now braun frau” last night & I just felt the need to share with you how much I loved it!!! It was the most entertaining & hilarious book I have read in years! I was cracking up all the time while reading & receiving funny looks from my kids as to what could be so funny.
I migrated to Australia from Germany when I was 16 with not a word of english under my belt so I could just relate so well to your story when you just feel like you have arrived on another planet.
Keep up your good work, Merridy. Your sense of humour is refreshing! I will be passing this book on to all of my german girlfriends.
Frohe Ostern to you & your family!
Oh thanks, Annabell! And if you ever get the urge to write that story about coming to Australia, from a 16 year old German girl’s perspective, I’ll be first to buy your book. I hope you enjoy Ridiculous Expectations too – and don’t forget There’s A Bear In There if you want Nachspeise! (ha ha…) Schöne Grüsse, Annabell. Ich wünsche auch dir und deiner Familie frohe Ostern. X