Cyber Trap

Janys Hyde ScribblerI’ve never been a great fan of Facebook. It has always disturbed me that something I might say in ‘private’ to a Facebook ‘friend’ — or even a member of my Facebook family come to think of it — might end up in Timbuktu without my ever having given permission for it to go there. The privacy settings are often convoluted and obscure and seem to change with such a mind-boggling frequency that — unless you happen to live on Facebook, you can overlook an important change at the bat of an eyelid and end up with your most intimate revelations at the mercy of all. I suppose the first note I should make to myself here is that ‘intimate’ revelations should probably remain within the four walls of home.

In spite of a list as long as my arm of good reasons to avoid Facebook — and following on from a couple of feeble attempts to abandon ‘social’ networking altogether, I recently allowed myself to be convinced that I might somehow get Facebook to work for me and my specific goals in life, but first of all, I needed to seriously think about what those goals might be. I subsequently opened up a couple of Facebook pages to cover two of my interests, namely Venice and writing – in the hope that they would remind me to channel my energy more accurately.

They do say that ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’ but they also say ‘a little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle’ which is perhaps more suited to my relationship with internet and all that surfs in her. I had the dubious good fortune to study various aspects of the internet and how to build web sites and upload information for the world to see, and as one would assume, I was also taught a lot relating to the good, the bad and the very ugly idiosyncrasies of the net with which lesser mortals don’t normally bother themselves. All this has left me with a hefty distrust of the cyber world and most of what it stands for. My ‘little knowledge’ acted accordingly.

So let’s take a step back and give some thought to those ‘goals in life’ which I was looking for a couple of paragraphs back. If nothing else internet has been encouraging on this point – only a recent discovery, but it seems that there are an awful lot of other women out there, very much like myself, who continue to try to find their ‘niche’ in life – who have spent the greater portion of their existence having/bringing up/weaning off children/partners without ever having given serious thought to what they themselves wanted to do or be when they grew up/got old. Sad though the situation would seem when exposed so harshly, it’s strangely comforting to know that I’m not alone. It so happens that many of the women I have met through the net (if only virtually in most cases) are writers/wannabe writers like myself, which has made my discovery all the more interesting and relevant.

Now I can admit that I – like many it seems – am just beginning to find the time and context to come out of my sacrificial shell and tug my own strings instead of having to wait to see what everyone else around me wants before I make a move – I’m finding it difficult to organise my thoughts and actions as an individual person. My brain is rusty, not to mention my limbs and emotions. For too many years I have functioned only as a complement to the needs of those around me. The freedom is overwhelming.

And that is where the similarity with other women would seem to fall short. If I am to believe even if only in part, the kind of personal image many of these cyber women are promoting, it would seem that they are all super-women – they manage to spend considerable time in every conceivable corner of social networking available online, hopping from Twitter to Facebook to LinkedIn to Pinterest to Goodreads and to a series of ‘virtual clubs’ that I have never even heard of, let alone considered signing up for. They blog and Twitter and somehow even find time to write books – and I do mean books in the plural. So what the heck am I doing wrong?

But I really must finish talking about my goals mustn’t I? Well I think I’ve found what I don’t want to be. I still don’t trust internet and will not be signing up as slave to a whole bunch of social networking. Really, I am not doing anything wrong, but maybe just a little differently. Perhaps I am being more pragmatic than some about my approach in recognising at the outset that I am no super-woman before I even attempt to throw myself into the scrum. Rumours are already coming through that it isn’t all that some would like to cook it up to be anyway. It takes an awful lot of dedicated effort to really make social networking work as a marketing or promotional tool, and even then you have to be absolutely certain that you have a good product to market, be it yourself or, in this case, a book.

Meanwhile life passes you by, children grow up loved ones get older, and at 60 plus years of age, I hope still to have time to give some thought to where I want to go with my life. I might even find the time and inclination to create that good product. No rush and most definitely, no hassle …

For those into word counts, this piece is 966 words long, without the title