VirtualOT

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Australia
I am an Australian occupational therapist, educator and researcher. I have worked as an OT in mental health, vocational rehabilitation and a private surgical hospital. I am passionate using online technology to enhance the knowledge and growth of the occupational therapy profession. In my PhD research I am looking at the role of online technologies in information management and knowledge transfer in occupational therapy. Views expressed and stories shared on this blog are my opinion and do not represent views of my employer or professional registration body.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Facebook fatigue

This week my facebook status reads "Anita is a bit tired of thinking like a FB status update... I want to think properly again". I decided to call this Facebook Fatigue.

I love the fact that I can constantly stay up to date with the day to day "doings" of friends and family around the globe, and even feel like I was actually there with my sisters when their kids said the funniest things... but who am I kidding? I am living vicariously and virtually, in their lives... soon a question started to gnaw inside me... am I living my own life?

After almost 2 years of using Facebook it became part of my daily routine, and a way to feel connected with others. However, it gradually started to change the way I behaved. I would check Facebook before email, and even before I ate breakfast, I would use facebook as a place to connect with a wide range of people, but not at any meaningful level, and it became a place where I could easily lose an hour at a time through my day! Many evenings it became my main activity. On weekends I would be on FB talking to people in another country, me having a glass of wine on my computer, them also at a computer... it replaced real socializing!

I don't want to say I was addicted, but maybe I was!

The thing that started to really irritate me was the feeling that having a "conversation" on facebook had become one big public forum and it wasn't simply with people I wanted to converse with... but people who were friends of friends (ie: strangers). It started to feel like a public conversation, like traveling on a train and speaking with your friend and the people traveling on the train who were around you continually adding to the conversation without invitation.

I am an outgoing person, an extrovert! So having conversations with complete strangers does not bother me at all (hey... I blog!) but what started to happen was people from very different walks of life started to become part of my daily conversations inside facebook, through my friends or family's pages... now this shouldn't bother me as opening myself up to having conversations with people with different viewpoints is wonderful! However, these weren't conversations, these were somtimes personal attacks disguised as conversation. People critiquing my choices and comparing them with theirs.

I started to wonder what was happening and realized that maybe it is the anonymity of the online world that creates a sense of safety and loosens people's "manners". Maybe they wouldn't comment on your choices if you were meeting in person, but in the online forum there really are no consequences, so they just voice their true opinion.

The other aspect is there is no voice intonation or body language when you communicate online (yes, all the netiquette rules say CAPITAL LETTERS = SHOUTING!) but between speaking normally and SHOUTING and emoticons ;-) there is little way of knowing how a person is actually speaking. Text simply lacks nuance.

So, none of this is new really, it just simply came to a head for me recently, and my breaking point was... I was thinking in updates! I would do something, for example: bake a loaf of bread, and then I would think about how to word that as an update! There is a positive angle to this, I am noticing the small things in my life and "amplifying them" and celebrating them... and the other way of looking at this is I am wasting my life navel gazing, telling people about the mundane and forgetting to get on with the bigger goals in my life!

As this is a blog about Technology and OT a little voice is telling me that I need to make this relevant to OT practice... EASY! If I was helping someone to connect with friends and family online (such as we did in the ABI & Blogging program) then I would be particularly careful to address the issue of what to post and what not to post, and how to avoid offending people online!

So, I am having a breather from FB and focusing more on my Blog, my work and my PhD... oh and my kids! How's your online world treating you?

3 comments:

Anne Marie said...

Most of the people I really care about don't use Facebook so much so it isn't a very special place for me.
Enjoy your blog:)

Susan B said...

I hope I wasn't ever one of those critiquing through commenting. I go through phases w/ FB and other social media. Strangely enough, when I start spending more time there than with F2F endeavours, it's usually a good cue for me to recognize that I'm getting depressed. I don't withdraw completely, but to an only virtual world.
I like sentences, paragraphs, pages, books and deeper thought. For me FB updates and Twitter are aide memoire tools and something I can do when I'm too busy to do anything else. But ... then I start reading FB and an hour slips away just like that, an hour that I'm not spending doing more important things with people close to me. Thanks for this post.

Anita Hamilton said...

Susan you were never one of those critiquing me as we get to do that in person and it is invited :-)

My main issue was leaving comments on a sister's wall that were interpreted differently by her friends, as they do not know me.

Solution: I stopped participating in any convertaions on FB around certain topics.

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