Friday, May 24, 2019

In August of 2007 my sister told me about this cool new way to communicate with others online and sent me a link via email, where I was able to create an account on Facebook.  At the time I found it both daunting to try and figure out how to use this, yet at the same time something I thought would give me an opportunity to stay in touch with some of my friends and family across Canada and at the same time share some things with the rest of the world.  Over time I realized that this was an amazing way to share some of my photographs with others and be able to see the photographs that fellow photographers, many of whom have become good friends (some who I have never met in person) and keep in touch with these new friends from around the world.

 

Facebook Personal Timeline

My Facebook Personal Timeline

The Good

Among the good things that Facebook offers those who chose to set up an account is the ability to personalize their own timelines and share both photographs and stories with people who are on their friend list or make their post Public and share with anyone who happens to come across your post.  Some of the good qualities that I like about Facebook is that I can stay in touch with friends and family at any time and no matter where they live in the world, as long as each of us has an internet or wifi connection and an account on Facebook.  Facebook is also a great place to meet new friends, and if they live in the same geographic area as you do, there is nothing stopping you from making the move to meet them in person.  I have made a couple of very close friends this way, who I didn’t know prior to my days on Facebook and who I now spend time together outside of Facebook  Facebook also is a place where you can express yourself openly, sharing your photographs, your music, your passions in life and your feelings about any topic in the world.  Facebook also offers the ability to chat privately with anyone, both on your friend list and others who you would like to speak with about something.  This chat is live and immediate when both parties are online, so if you have a friend that you want to stay in touch with regularly who lives on the other side of the world it is now easier than ever to do so, and it’s all free.

Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups Offer a Chance to Share with Others who are Like Minded

 

Another great thing about Facebook is the option to join various groups, where you can share your stories and photos with like minded individuals who are a part of that group.  I belong to numerous photography and wildlife groups and share many of my favourite photos and stories in them, where others like and comment on these as they see fit.  Within the groups I have again, made some friends, some of whom live far away from me and others who live local to me.  Anyone who has an account on Facebook can start their own group and invite others on their friend list to join it.  As the group owner or admin, you have control over what content is allowed and can set rules that specify things like how many photographs someone can post per day or more importantly the rules of respect for one another while posting in the group.  Groups can be Public, where anyone can see who is in the group and what is being posted, but have to be approved before they can post or comment; Closed, where anyone can see who is in the group, but cannot see the posts until they are approved to become a member; and lastly Secret, where only those who are members of the group and people they have invited to join the group, can see members or what is posted.

Facebook Events

Facebook Events are a Great Way to Promote Social Outings Locally or on a Global Scale

 

One of my very favourite areas of Facebook is the ability for both individuals or groups to set up an event that others can be invited to join.  These can be global events that take place online, where you set the date, time and what the event will be about and then host the online event offering subject matter that will interest specific individuals and groups of people.  They can also be local outings that promote social interaction off of Facebook and allow those who attend to see old friends and create new ones while attending the event.  I absolutely love the local events and when I am able to, try to attend them if they are of interest to me.  I have met a number of my Facebook friends who are now personal friends and people I stay in touch with both on and off Facebook.  The outing shown above was set up by a group on Facebook, who also happen to be a non-profit organization locally and have arranged for field trips for their members to go out and discover some of Manitoba’s hidden gems when it comes to wildflowers and especially native orchids.  It is a great way to become part of something where one can learn to appreciate nature and learn to respect what is put before us as caretakers of the Earth, and at the same time socialize in person with like minded individuals and make new friendships that may last a lifetime.

 

Facebook Help

For Help is Available to Learn how to Change your Account Settings

The Bad

There are also some of what I call “Bad” things about Facebook, some of which I will touch on today.  As free software, both in a browser format and on an app for your smartphone or tablet, Facebook has always had to find ways to bring in funding from outside sources, just like any business does.  As of late this advertising by third parties has increased 10 fold and at times can be down right annoying.  And they not only advertise, but based on your internet browsing will show you ads from places you have recently looked at or have done online shopping at.  There is good news in the bad in that you can limit some of this advertising by going to Facebook help and doing a search as to how to change your account settings on what you allow, but some ads will always be there.  There are also ad blockers that you can add into your browser as a plug-in that will stop most of the ads from showing up when you open Facebook.  A number of other bad things about Facebook, which I won’t go into detail about but will mention as follows:  Cyber-Bullying, Ruined Relationships, Distraction, Insecurity (Hackers stealing your identity and your account) and Stalker Friendly.  Many of these Facebook is trying to curb and are working on eliminating, but there will always be areas that they cannot totally control 

Facebook Privacy Settings

Facebook Privacy Settings for your Personal Account

 

Facebook gives you many options on how to set up your personal account, of which I feel Privacy is one of the most important features.  Here you can set up how people find and contact you and decide who can see your posts, send you friend requests, see your email address and phone number.  As well you can chose if you wish search engines outside of Facebook the ability to link to your profile.  But, and I say this with a bit of annoyance, I feel they do not offer enough options in some of these areas.  For example, you have created a Facebook account and gathered a number of friends over the years, but wish to now limit or close off completely others from being able to find and send you a friend request.  You cannot do this as Facebook will not allow you to completely stop others from sending you a friend request.  Perhaps you have become a famous artist, musician, writer, actor or photographer and don’t wish anyone other than your current friends to be on your list and others not able to send you requests, but would rather that they are only allowed to follow you on Facebook.  The most you can do is limit this to friends of friends, so strangers who don’t know anyone on your friend list will not have the option to send you a friend request, but if even one of your friends is also a friend of that stranger, they will still be able to send you the request.  In the end it is up to you how you deal with accepting or rejecting this new request.

 

The Ugly

My last area of Facebook, which I call the Ugly, is something that is fairly prevalent on Facebook these days and one that I abhor.  And that is the lack of respect that people have in how they respond to your posts, particularly those on your own timeline.  I fully understand that if I post to a group and there are no rules in place about the behaviour of others in the group, that what I post could well be the subject of a personal attack with people bullying and calling you names, trying to humiliate your for your opinion or a photo you may have posted, and although this should not be allowed in a group, it often is.  But this should never happen on one’s own timeline, yet it does all the time and we allow it.  For whatever reason, some people have a tendency to behave badly when on Facebook, thinking that because they are hidden behind the computer and the internet that it is safe to say anything they want, without any thought about how it may make the original poster or another who has replied to your post, feel.  Who cares if we hurt others feelings or make them feel less simply because they have their own thoughts and feelings about something.  I care, that’s who, and on my timeline I will no longer accept any form of abuse, from others who are supposed to be so called friends, whether it is intentional or not.  Think before you type your thoughts and feelings, taking care not to make someone else feel bad or be humiliated in a public area.  If you have something that may bother you or is of a sensitive nature, take a moment to send a private message about this and allow them the opportunity to discuss it with you in private where they can either see your point of view or not see your point of view.  But don’t ever belittle someone on their own timeline as this would be akin to going to their home and acting rude and immature in your actions.  This not only alienates you, but shows your lack of self-control and respect for who you are.

I grew up in an era where we could discuss any subject with others, both friends and strangers, and remain respectful to one another even if we strongly disagreed.  In today’s society, I see this as something that is lacking and where people speak without thinking, not caring if they hurt someone else with their words or actions.  It is shameful to me.  So on my Facebook personal timeline I will now implement the same rules as I do for my groups.  If you are disrespectful towards me or any other person who has commented on my post, I will delete your comments, and based on if this is a continued action, will remove you as a friend and block you from being able to make any future contact with me.