Facebook? Just chill out a bit
How on earth did we go boating before Facebook? For that matter, how did some people ever live their lives without Facebook to guide, advise, comfort or chastise them?
Don’t get me wrong; I’m as regular a user of the social media giant as anyone else. I post and comment with the best of them. Lately, though, I have done the daily scroll of my ‘newsfeed’ with increasing feelings of amusement, frustration and plain old grumpy old git-style annoyance.
In Facebook speak I would probably be posting ‘FB grrrh!’ or ‘so fed up :-( and waiting for my ‘Friends’ (most of whom I have never, of course, met) to reassure me that the world was still okay.
Anyway, back to my original point. However did we manage in the days when the net was something used to land a fish? I started to count how many Facebook groups there are devoted to narrowboating and stopped when I reached 30. (I’m a member of six, before you ask.)
Some are extremely useful – like the 12v boating group whose members offer sound, expert advice to the many of us who are electrically illiterate.
Others are more general chit-chat zones, which is great. Except that, in among the chat, the pictures, the sensible queries and the jolly tales are questions that can be breathtakingly naive (‘is it hard to get a boat from Spain to England?’) or that reveal a sad lack of self-reliance and sense of adventure.
Does one really need to ask for encouragement and ‘tips’ before setting off down the Oxford Canal or venturing along the Market Harborough Arm? Come on; we are not talking crossing the Atlantic.
Canal travel is not simply about the destination, it’s about the journey. Your journey, not the one someone else has advised you to have. We are simply talking about exploring a little part of rural England: if you don’t like it, don’t go there again.
Inevitably, Facebook canal groups do get a lot of questions from people thinking about buying a boat. Some want views on specifics – toilets, solar, engines, that sort of stuff; some are idly dreaming about possibilities and the questions posed often so infuriatingly vague. ‘What size boat is best?’ ‘Why are some sailaways much more expensive than others?’
Ask a question like that and you’ll get 100 different answers. What I fear is that Facebook is slowly strangling the ability of people to do their own research, seek out expert advice and form judgments – or raise questions.
Instead of expert wisdom, the noisiest opinions of Facebookers seems too often to hold sway.
And dare anyone suggest that rather than expect FB to sort them out, someone should do their own research by reading, visiting boatbuilders, even Googling, then they will, likely, get shot down in flames by outraged Groupies. I’ve read it and it’s sometimes shocking.
The nastiness directed at individuals who step out of line in some Facebook boating groups is horrible. Ask yourself before you join in: would you really say this to their face down the pub?
Sadly, Facebook does seem to have become a licence to be nasty, to moan and grumble. There’s even a group called ‘Narrowboat Moaners and Ranters’ (which I’m in, incidentally) for that express purpose. Fortunately it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
But some moaners and ranters do. They spend so much time grousing, I wonder whether they shouldn’t be thinking about an alternative lifestyle.
Would I take the trouble to rage about a hire-boater moored for the night on a water point, or stop to photograph people who’ve set up a picnic table and chairs on the towpath so I can post a Facebook rant about it?
I’m no saint; as Mrs B will testify I regularly grump and grouse but, come on, before you post your feelings to the world, just think: have you never made a mistake; were you never a struggling newbie or in a bit too much of a hurry?
And remember, however bad it seems today, it will probably be better tomorrow. And it sure beats working. So have a beer and chill out.
Well that’s quite enough grumbling and grousing from me. I’m signing off from this column now so, to paraphrase the words of the unforgettable Dave Allen, if you have been, thanks for reading.
‘However bad it seems, it will probably be better tomorrow. And it sure beats working. So have a beer and chill out’
Get a hand on the tiller to learn the ropes
Sage advice, cheers