I am back in London, sitting up in bed. I am supposed to be working on a poem (my focus is on form and structure). I look out of the window into the rows of London gardens: brick walls covered in ivy and wisteria. The leaves on the gigantic tree opposite are on the turn: beautiful green, yellow and orange. At the end of one branch, gold burnishes. Every so often a leaf flutters down. I am also listening to a politician, Lord Carrington, I think it is, on the radio discussing the problems of the ‘land issue’ when handing Rhodesia back to the Africans. I am on Facebook too.
So, can I be accused of procrastination? Actually, I think procrastination gets a bad name when in fact it is rather a delightful occupation. It is like the foreplay to sex. It builds up tension. Abstract, unfocused thinking leads to slow notions, and ideas. I often start scribbling when I have no idea of what is coming but , usually, the flow begins and the links emerge. (A caution here, when I say links, as my idea of links can be rather haphazard!)
So while listening to the discussion of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe’s experience of growing independence, I hear about the multilayered issues, the local politics, the economics and personal enmities involved while also reading a FB comment about what happens to your Facebook stream if you ‘like’ posts. As I listen to the radio, what strikes me (again) is how we so easily make judgments, form opinions without fully understanding the whole equation (independence for Africa). I suppose, it is essential we do this, for if we knew the whole picture, understood the intricacy, it would inhibit us from action. Passion is necessary for action.
Back to FB. One of my ‘friends’ (well, more of a colleague than a friend, you know FB) informs me that a friend of hers was testing the benefits of ‘liking’ on Facebook. Apparently, not ‘liking’ improves your FB experience. It seems the algorithm that Facebook uses doesn’t discriminate between showing us the sweet kitties we ‘like’ and the cruel torture of cats we don’t, and sends us pictures of everything feline. I don’t really understand how FB works, I thought I simply received material shared by my ‘friends’. (Isn’t it strange how many inverted quotation marks need to be used when referring to FB). So, the ‘study’ carried out indicates that it is much better to comment. Comments are not part of the algorithm and therefore don’t attract ads. Comments make your FB experience more meaningful. An article on the experience of ‘not liking’ was posted. Apparently, it had been difficult not to ‘like’. The author felt guilty she wasn’t ‘supporting’ her friends and even that by not ‘liking’, she was expressing disapproval. Then she read an article about someone who had done the opposite and liked everything and his feed had become a terror ridden, and tense, full of horror and gore.
It was the feeling of guilt when she didn’t ‘like’ that interested me. It is absurd, but I know what she means. Our ‘liking’ something on FB is pretty meaningless, but it is seductive as it shows we support people without having do anything. What bliss! But I’ve decided I’m going to reduce my ‘liking’ and comment or share instead.
What has this to do with Rhodesia/Zimbabwe? I don’t know except that maybe those ‘inverted quotation marks’ reflect on how little we all understand or really know what is going on in our world – despite the communication – whatever the time frame. I like FB. I enjoy reading which ten books have impacted on FB ‘friends’. I like knowing what people are up to (particularly Lesley who travels the world). I like putting pictures and comments about my AT The Edge, Cavan literary nights and poetry workshops (next one starts Wednesday 17 Sept). I feel FB keeps me in contact. It reminds me that ‘friends’ are out there, and that they are, or have been, a part of my life! All a little superficial? Probably, but that’s okay. However, from now on, I will ‘comment’ rather than ‘like’ so if I don’t ‘like’ your postings, don’t be offended and I’ll try not to be if you don’t ‘like’ mine. You can comment instead!