Analyzing Facebook

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I’ve been thinking about my Facebook account lately. I’m not going to rant about all the fake news of late being shared via social media, though I certainly have opinions about that! Maybe for another post.

More precisely, I’ve been thinking about the assemblage of Facebook friends I have.

There are the over-sharers who report every little detail of their lives. I don’t care that they are tired tonight, or had a great workout, or had a hard day at work, or where they ate dinner. Just. Don’t. Care.

There is the other kind of sharer, too. They post every goofy video or quote they can find. Facebook’s new way of launching videos automatically makes this obsession worse, subjecting us to stupid cat tricks, family functions, and supposedly amazing feats. I tend to prefer the occasional sharers, the thoughtful posts. Less is more for me and my Facebook friends.

They are an eclectic lot, too. There are liberals and conservatives, city folk, country folk, moms, dads, students, elderly friends, baby boomers, genXers, millennials.

In political seasons, it is as if my friends are debating the candidates on my very page. My liberal friend will post something from their side; my conservative friends will post their perspectives. They certainly cannot see the others’ posts, but it is almost comical how often two opposing views are back to back on my wall. Occasionally someone gets ugly so then I hide, unfollow, unfriend, or even block them – whatever seems appropriate in the moment. I even blocked my high school sweetheart once and am glad I did, too. Seems he turned nasty and mean in his old age. Don’t need that drama!

I certainly don’t accept all friend requests – have pretty strict rules about that, actually. But I have developed friendships with people I barely knew, just because of their posts, shares, and photographs. I know where everyone goes on vacation, what their hobbies are, what they do on Saturday night. I get to ‘like’ pictures of their kids/grandkids/cats/gardens. And they mine, except for the grandkids part. I celebrate, laugh, grieve with them. When I run into a Facebook acquaintance in real life, I am almost a little embarrassed, knowing so much about their lives without really knowing them. Is it just me or do others feel that way too? Should I mention something from their Facebook life or does that seem too much like I’m stalking?

So many questions. I’m not sure if Facebook is good, bad, evil, or just ‘is’, but I do know that it is mildly entertaining. At least for this Baby Boomer of a certain age with little else to entertain her on a Saturday night.

My garden surprises

110I love walking around my yard this time of year. The flowers are beautiful, of course. And watching the tomatoes ripen, the cucumbers grow, and the broccoli sprout fills me with anticipation about the wonderful meals soon to come.

But I like the unexpected surprises the most, I think. This week I discovered a tiny birds nest in my hedge row, empty now. The house wrens, I suspect, since they are sure upset when my cats are nearby. While checking on my rose bushes, I spied a praying mantis waiting for his next meal. Then I snatched one last blueberry from the bush, and wondered aloud how it escaped the birds’ foraging.

Nature’s surprises are all over, just waiting to be discovered.

An idle mind

I have spent the last 36 hours or so being subjected to our health care system. To make a long story short, I went to the ER with some scary symptoms. They checked me out, all came back fine, but they insisted I stay overnight so they could do some more tests to make double-dog sure.

I estimate that I spent, maybe, three hours total getting one of the many tests, vital sign checks, medical history interviews, etc. necessary for my care and diagnosis. The rest of the time? I waited for things And waited, and waited. Bored does not begin to describe my state of mind. I even turned on that devil’s workshop, daytime television, for a bit before I came to my senses.

I normally spend my days with too much to do – never enough hours in the day. But when I found myself in this medical holding pattern, I was unable to remember anything that I needed to do (or at least anything that I could do from a hospital bed).

It seems like I should have been able to figure out how to spend the time productively. But not so much. I checked Facebook several times, and Twitter several more. I cleaned out all my unread email messages, and sent a few emails. I looked up a couple of things on the Internet. Read a few blogs. And way too much navel-gazing.

But I would not call any of that particularly productive. My typically too-full mind was totally blank. Tomorrow when I return to work, I will think of a dozen or more things I should’ve, could’ve done. And I will probably kick myself for not thinking of them today.

The new year

I am always so hopeful at the beginning of every year. I don’t know why, really, because things don’t ever change enough from year to year to warrant my expectations.  But still, I hope. Last year, my husband and I resolved to get more exercise and eat better. How many times has that been done at the new year?! But we stuck with it. He has lost 80 or so pounds, which is wonderful. I am so proud of him. I have lost only a dozen or so (but had fewer to lose, too). I’m down a size in my pants, though, hoping for another pant size decrease in 2011.  Please.

We’ve exercised more too. Him just walking – when I make him. Me doing exercises and some aerobic stuff (though not enough). But I told myself that if I stuck with it for a year, I would buy an exercise machine. So, we are the proud owner of a new treadmill. I want to build up to being able to run more than a few minutes at a time. We shall see.

I’ve never been able to run so I may be a bit unrealistic in this quest, but I’m gonna try. Wish me luck.

Multitasking is driving me to distraction

We are becoming a culture of bits and bytes. In this world of multitasking gone mad, I find that I get distracted way too easily these days! Or, to be more precise, I distract myself.  I will be working on something at the office, then all of a sudden, I will have a thought that I must stop that for a minute and do this other thing.  I do it at home, too. I’m cleaning the kitchen, remember that I need to change the wash, then stop midway through that to empty the trash, and so on, never quite getting back to the original task. Some would call it multitasking, but I know it is not very productive for me.  But still, I cannot seem to stop this behavior.

What we are really doing, they say, is switching tasks, not multitasking. That sums it up very well for me, as I never feel like I handle either of the tasks I am trying to do well.  I will get engrossed in one, ignoring the other, probably retaining less in the process. Researchers tell us that we lose productivity when we multitask – by as much as 40%, according to Paul Atchley, Associate Professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of KansasRussell Poldrack of the University of California says that multitasking affects learning and memory, too.

That certainly has been my experience. It takes about 15 minutes to get back to the same level of concentration we had when we switched to that other task.  I keep trying to develop the discipline – or re-develop, actually – to stay focused long enough to finish the task at hand.

The younger generations are doing this multitasking behavior all the time, responding to a variety of media – internet, TV, email, text messaging, etc. – constantly.  Chrisine Rosen of The New Atlantic concludes, “with crumbs of attention rationed out among many competing tasks, their culture may gain in information, but it will surely weaken in wisdom.”

Perhaps this should be one of my new year’s resolutions.

Focus, focus, focus!