FIONA LOONEY

KITCHEN SINK DRAMA

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENTS -

Face­book hates me. It hasn’t yet told me so – in fact, its ef­forts to make me love it are still on­go­ing and, in a way, ad­mirably en­er­getic – but there is a tone creep­ing into its cor­re­spon­dence that sug­gests a level of ex­as­per­a­tion with which I can’t help but be se­cretly sat­is­fied. I am p***ing off Face­book and I feel fine.

I never in­tended join­ing the world’s most some­thing so­cial me­dia net­work. When every­one else started sign­ing up, I was too busy to take on any­thing else that might eat into my time. Be­sides, it oc­curred to me that the only point of the site was to re­unite with peo­ple who you didn’t like enough to keep in your life in the first place and to look at strangers’ ba­bies. Back then, I barely had enough time to keep up with the peo­ple I did like enough to keep in my life and look at my own ba­bies.

Then that whole trolling thing started and I re­alised that there were enough ways to in­sult me on the in­ter­net (hello, boards.ie) as it was, with­out me invit­ing strangers onto another (yes, I know I am on Twit­ter, but I joined that nearly six years ago when it was less a shriek­ing traf­fic jam and more like a dozen civilised peo­ple sit­ting round the ta­ble drink­ing cof­fee and mak­ing each other laugh). Also, Twit­ter took no time at all: Face­book, in my lim­ited un­der­stand­ing of it, could have taken me hours by the time I’d got around to lik­ing all these strangers’ hia­tus her­nias for them.

I’ve writ­ten here be­fore about my in­nate con­trari­ness and its con­se­quent cut­ting off my nose to spite my face. You might re­mem­ber how I never crossed the thresh­old of the Dun- drum Town Cen­tre for its first three years af­ter on some long for­got­ten point of prin­ci­ple, un­til I fi­nally re­alised that the man­age­ment of that aw­ful, spec­tac­u­larly suc­cess­ful place couldn’t have given a fly­ing fig whether I ever dark­ened its doors or not. Well, it wasn’t even like that with Face­book. I knew well there was no­body in Sil­i­con Val­ley or be­yond fret­ting over my opt­ing out of the world’s big­gest what­ever.

Oh, but there are now. What hap­pened was this: The Brother moved to Saudi and ef­fec­tively warned me that if I didn’t join Face­book,

I never in­tended join­ing the world’s most some­thing so­cial net­work. I barely had enough time to look at my own ba­bies

it was un­likely I’d ever hear from him again. So I signed up. Not as my­self, ob­vi­ously – that way lies mad­ness – but un­der the full name of The Dog. I even put his birth­day as my own. And then I friend re­quested The Brother, he ac­cepted, and since then, I’ve had un­fet­tered ac­cess to his end­less pho­tos of mal­nour­ished cats.

But of course, it didn’t end there. In the days and weeks that fol­lowed, Face­book mailed me ev­ery day, sug­gest­ing peo­ple I might know. Most of them, ob­vi­ously, were peo­ple my brother knows. And while they’re per­fectly pleas­ant peo­ple, I’m not in the mar­ket for a pen pal. So I ig­nored Face­book. Then they in­vited me to sug­gest peo­ple my­self, peo­ple that I might know in my own right. I ig­nored that too. Then The Brother came home for a few weeks and so I didn’t need to see any more mal­nour­ished cats. Well, they re­ally didn’t like that. ‘You haven’t en­gaged with Face­book for a while,’ they ven­tured one day. ‘Re­con­nect with Face­book,’ they then tried. A week ago, they sug­gested that maybe I have for­got­ten my pass­word (I have, ob­vi­ously, but that’s only to be ex­pected).

I have had two friend re­quests from to­tal strangers who, see­ing as how I am an eight year old Labrador ( pre­tend­ing to be 13), couldn’t pos­si­bly know me. I ig­nored one, but out of sheer curiosity, I had a look at the pro­file page of the other. It was at that mo­ment, as far as I can tell, that the Face­book equiv­a­lent of the Lloyd’s of Lon­don bell – tolled solemnly to mark a ship lost at sea – must have sounded in south­ern Cal­i­for­nia. ‘You’re back!’ they trum­peted breath­lessly. ‘Here are another seven mil­lion sug­ges­tions for peo­ple you might like to fol­low.’ I ig­nored them. Yes­ter­day, they begged me to fol­low my own hus­band. On the ba­sis that I can like his amus­ing t-shirt by sim­ply walk­ing into the next room, I ig­nored that as well. Be­sides, I can’t help think­ing that Dionne War­wick had it right when she sang about know­ing that I’ll be on your side for­ever more. Surely that – and not lik­ing pic­tures of dogs in hats and your cousin’s Chris­ten­ing – is what friends are for.

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