As mentioned in my previous blog post, I began this 'little guide' for fun, so please do take it in the spirit in which it’s meant. These are just my personal bête-moires which I'm sure some of you will share.
Many of you probably find the whole of social media is a pet hate. Facebook is still my main social media platform and though there’s many things to like about it, for instance, connecting with likeminded people, reconnecting with old friends, sharing memories in nostalgia groups and much more, it’s a double-edged sword. Facebook is becoming more and more tedious, algorithms take charge and fewer and fewer of your friends’ post are visible without hunting high and low. Here are a few things which irk me on Facebook and more generally online:
Visual Noise and GIFS
This includes any flashing pictures or carousels that assault your vision every time you visit certain websites. If you’re lucky you’ll find a well-hidden pause button so you can at least freeze the movement. It includes adverts that pop-up on any Google page because we all know Google collects cookies so that little pictures of coats or dresses or - I dunno - hoovers which you’ve already bought (so why would you want to buy another?) pop up with impossible regularity. As soon as you click on the little cross that closes the infernal window another one pops up further down, sometimes the same one, to boot. Take note, gamers. There’s surely a good game to be had at seeing how many Google ads you can zap in a specified time.
And don’t even talk to me about GIFS! For the uninitiated, these are big in-your-face animations that you can add to a thread on Facebook to express a feeling. An occasional one you may be able to ignore but to have bells and whistles and flashing lights at you when you’re just trying to follow a conversation? Has Facebook never heard of the visually challenged? Those who suffer with migraines? With epilepsy? Facebook has also increased the number and range of coloured backgrounds for your statuses. It’s all about bigger and brighter and READ MY POST OR ELSE!
People talking over you
It’s rude in real life, when you’re stuck between two people and they carry on a conversation over your head. The more polite will be aware of you sitting like a lemon betwixt them and will say ‘shall we swap places?’ in order to continue their chinwag without subjecting your ears to any more than necessary. But on social media, although people are aware of ‘hijacking’ threads and are pulled up over it, there seems to be no etiquette about people talking over you. You start to feel invisible when you’re leapfrogged, while rude and inconsiderate just carry on their verbal ping-pong without a single thought to you or your comment. Sometimes more people join in, making you feel a complete outcast!
People friending you on FB just to like their page
I’m sure you know the type, especially if you’re an author or do anything else creative. As I’m an indie author, I’ve had many Facebook friend-requests from fellow authors. Usually they come from mutual author friends and in the main they’re supportive and respectful. But nothing makes my heart sink more than to get a friend-request from a new author who immediately asks me to ‘like their author page’ before speaking to me. Not even a ‘hi (or hey) nice to meet you and what do you write?’ It is the ultimate in bad manners and narcissism and always results in my unfriending them forthwith. I mean what do they think? Maybe what I write or indeed the fact that I’m a writer has barely grazed their self-inflated heads. Maybe somebody somewhere told them to friend lots of other writers and spam them to bits. They probably didn’t use the word spam, they probably told them to market assertively (aggressively). But surely by now everyone knows that targeting other writers - especially writers you don’t know - does not work. Other writers want other readers to read and review their work too. Other writers are busy writing. Why would they bother with some self-important, bad-mannered jerk? You’ve got to wonder!
Let’s Play a Game - each adding a word on social media
I see this occasionally in writers’ groups or forums. This is where each person on the thread just adds a new word, presumably to feel part of this larger joint story and to enjoy a transitory power in being able to alter its course. But the problem is, on Facebook, say, all but the last two or three contributions are visible and who cares anyway about this tedious and endless story?
My sister and I used to have a version of this as teenagers. But with much more exciting variations and outcomes:
Each word we wrote would be in pen in a notebook
Each word was written by a different character we’d invented (alternating between one of Ann’s characters and one of mine)
Each word was also written in that character’s own handwriting
And finally, we had a finite list of characters who we enacted so the total number of words would be something like 70.
This would mean a 70 word paragraph and even if our characters had two contributions per exercise, we’d have a finite nonsensical very short story. But it’s finite nature was part of its charm. To this day I still remember the first line of one of those fun exercises which went: On top of my gothic football!
Yes those. Those annoying things that suddenly appear when you’re tying to sign in to a website to prove you’re not a bot. I don’t mind those that require you to tick all the pictures that feature, say, a car or a flower. No, it’s those infernal ones that have a series of numbers and letters embedded in some obscure cobwebby grid so you can’t see the blessed figures or numbers. It’s OK if it’s your bank sending you a PIN number through the post - you expect a certain level of obscurity but are bots so sophisticated that they’re able to read numbers and figures embedded in a tangled maze more than we can? These captchas do give you an option of trying another and then another. I don’t know know about you, but I find they get successively more obscure and wish I’d persisted with the first option! By this time I’ve lost the will to live and wonder whether the site I was trying to access is worth all the aggro.
Compulsory ‘fields’ on online forms
It’s the requirement to give your phone number before being able to ‘turn’ the virtual page that does it for me. There are great red lines on the page, like you’ve had a ticking off for handing in suboptimal homework. I’m sure many of you will do what I do and fill out the telephone field with a row of noughts or ones and merrily get through the magic barrier. I have to say though that some sites have wised up to this and spot that it isn’t a ‘real’ phone number. Sometimes, I decide these firms don’t deserve my custom if they’re to be that intrusive. Why do they need my phone number anyway if they have my email? Hmm….
I understand the need for safety and security with all the scams and phishing that abound online. I really don’t mind even using the confounded card reader when I have to pay a new payee (as long as it doesn’t come up with an error, but that’s the trouble - too often they do). But when they’re working OK, I understand why I have to have extra security for a new payee. It doesn’t happen very often, right? But what I do object to is having to use one every time I go into my online bank account. I had been with my bank for 43 years and never an overdraft. That and my loyalty surely counted for something? I phoned them and complained, but still the need to use a card reader every single time and all because I couldn’t use my mobile (it doesn’t get a signal for me to receive their one time passcodes). So I’ve now found a bank that - shock, horror - is quite happy to send me a One Time Passcode by email. It’s not rocket science, it’s quite painless on both sides. So I decided the bank who had my money for 43 years didn’t deserve it a moment longer!
Black Friday and Cyber Monday
It has naff all to do with us here in the UK. I appreciate that for my friends and family across the pond, Black Friday relates to the equivalent of Boxing Day sales here (after, in this case, Thanksgiving). In fact, maybe they got the idea from us seeing as they don’t celebrate Boxing Day and hence no Boxing Day sales. But we do not celebrate Thanksgiving, so Black Friday is just unmoored to anything. As for Cyber Monday, that must be highly annoying, even to our US friends, dragging out the consumerism even more. Soon we’ll be having Uber Tuesday and Red-Hot Wednesday tacked on if we don’t watch out!
This is the latest annoyance on Facebook – alerting me to some watch party in my notifications. All they do is slow my computer down and stop my browser working!
It probably has its place but I really can't get on with WhatsApp groups - they seem to consist of one long continuous thread and haphazard conversations. I had to search high and low too in ordered to switch off the infernal notification noises.
Well, that's all for now. Do share your own in the comments section!