Today’s window opens on a digital Christmas Card with a visit to Cyberspouse’s Facebook page. He wasn’t interested in Facebook, but he did create a website and a Facebook page for his photography and digital images. The last picture he put on his page was a Christmas card. There are lots of other interesting pictures worth looking at on his page. The Christmas picture was taken at Kingston Lacy, Dorset, a lovely National Trust historic house with beautiful grounds worth exploring at all times of the year.
The Gesualdo Six is a vocal consort formed in March 2014 . I first saw them on Facebook, actually I’ve only seen them on Facebook, but when they pop up it’s a lovely peaceful interlude amongst the other Facebook rubbish or the Christmas hype, or this year an escape from Covid and Brexit. Visit them on Facebook to see them singing a German Christmas Carol. The picture is of one of my favourite cathedrals, Lincoln, where one of the group was a choirboy. At the top of the city it looks wonderful illuminated for Christmas.
‘Mummy, Mummy, Jason’s got his elbow on my side of the table.’
Julia gritted her teeth. Ten minutes, they had only been working for ten minutes and it had taken half an hour before that to get them settled. The twins were perfectly suited to social distancing, each intensely aware of their personal space.
‘No I didn’t, Jacintha touched my pencil and I don’t want to catch Covid.’
‘You won’t catch anything in this house Jason.’
Having a husband who was a chief administrator at a large hospital, now full of Covid 19 patients, was a mixed blessing, especially as pandemics tended to bring on his OCD. Julia may have thought his job less important and less dramatic than being a real doctor, but Jack didn’t. He had become insufferably self important after appearing on the BBC news. His administrative skills had been extended to the family and their home.
In the unlikely event of the twin’s primary school actually opening properly in June or July, Jason and Jacintha would not be attending. Her husband had done an extensive risk assessment and sent back the parent survey with some caustic comments and after all, Julia was at home to take care of home schooling.
Being made redundant from her job as head of fashion at Billings Department Store had been a bitter blow, though not unexpected. Sir Geoffrey Billings must be turning in his grave. The elegant Art Deco building was a neglected shadow of its former self. The business had been in slow decline since the beginning of the Twenty First Century. Customers who never set foot in the place gathered like vultures for the closing down sales, their grubby hands rifling through racks of garments they could never have afforded before. The empty building then stood as a foretaste of things to come. Now no one was going shopping.
Julia had just started enjoying the rest from work and pleasant days at the spa when the whole country went into lockdown. Of course her disappointments were nothing compared to other people’s problems and tragedies, her family were all safe, she didn’t have to go to a food bank and she didn’t have to worry about her mother now her brother was living there.
She sneaked a look at the Perfect Parents Facebook group on her phone.
Even if he has to wear a space suit he’s going to school on 1st June.
1st June 2021 more like.
Anyone in Mrs. Griffiths’ class managed to do the worksheet?
Zoom and Wine tonight?
Julia jumped as the ring tone sounded.
‘Mum, everything alright, you don’t usually call this early. We’re a bit busy, the children are just finishing their work sheets, then we have six BBC Bite lessons to catch up with. Yes it is half term next week that’s why we’re trying to get everything done today.’
Julia looked up as the blank worksheets slid to the floor and Jason stabbed Jacintha’s scalp with his pencil.
‘I just rang to say we saw Jack on the news last night.’
‘I’ve seen him on the news ten times, same clip… I’ve heard it on the radio six times.’
‘He must be very important… what is it he does exactly? Only Penny just Whatsapped to say she’d seen him and she was asking…’
Jack was late home again so Julia was grateful to join in Zoom and Wine.
Half Term, thank goodness, but Scarlet has really earned it, bless her. We’ve done every single BBC Bite and she’s written her own book.
Alfie has done one BBC Bite and two lines of writing this week, do you think we could swap?
Jack thinks I’ve got the twins in such a good routine that we should just carry on working over half term…
Some of you may be coming out of isolation, some of us are still in confusion, but it is imperative that you have completed this list of ten goals to achieve before re-entering the world.
1. Share on Facebook, one a day, the covers of thirty books that have shaped your life. If you have not even read thirty books in your whole life you have time to read them now.
2. Share on Facebook, one a day, the forty music albums that had an amazing impact on your life. Think carefully about your street cred and decide what image you wish to project.
3. Train your dog or any pet to do amazing tricks and post them all over social media. Not got a pet? Now is the time to raise a puppy, cub or foal while you are at home all the time.
4. Upcycle just about anything to plant plants in and post smug pictures to demonstrate your green credentials.
5. For the more ambitious, design and create a totally new garden with a wow factor that will mean you never need to go on holiday, or even out again. No garden, no problem. Create a hanging garden on your balcony. No balcony, no windows? Create a terrarium. But don’t forget to post the pictures.
6. Create new dishes from scratch and share one a day – share on the internet, the good news is you don’t have to actually share the food, you can eat it all yourself.
7. Macro photography is ideally suited to your new insular life. All you need are a few flowers and endless patience so you get shots of bumble bees, butterflies and dragonflies that are superior to the millions of others on Instagram.
8. If you haven’t tried them before, take up cycling and jogging and be sure to post regular accounts on Facebook of how far and fast you have been. You may even get a starring role on social media if your picture is taken by walkers complaining on the local Facebook group about the idiot cyclist or jogger who breathed too heavily when they sped past.
9. Laid up with a sprained ankle after number 8? No excuse for not taking up sewing. By now you should have made at least a thousand ineffective facemasks out of your old Tshirts or flowery sundress… And also created the longest rainbow/ hearts / We Love NHS banner in your road so you will be ready for number Ten.
10. The only time you see another human will depend on which country you are living in. Perhaps you are out every evening clapping for something or someone. In the UK we are out at 8pm every Thursday clapping and banging saucepans for the NHS and anybody who is actually out working. But that is not enough. You must get your road or block of flats on the local news that night, or better still the ten o’clock national news. You will need one bag piper marching down the street signalling it is eight o’clock, a string quartet playing on the front lawn, lots of cute children glad to be delaying bed time and an out of work opera singer leading a rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone.’ Just make sure everyone is two metres apart to avoid a media storm of disapproval.
Have you achieved any of these goals?
He still had the same smile, sitting on the bed, arms open in greeting.
‘We found him in a bag in the loft when we were moving.’ My mother’s voice startled me.
Teddy was the only recognisable object in the bedroom. Just back from a year in Australia, I had no choice but to stay with my parents while I searched for a job. During my absence they had downsized. I was consigned to the tiny guest bedroom.
‘I’ll go and put the kettle on.’ Mum retreated to the kitchen and I picked up Teddy.
He never had a name, but once upon a time he had been my best friend and I used to wish that he could speak. Mum assured me that if I held him close and listened carefully I would hear him. I responded by repeating his conversation, perhaps I really believed he spoke. Teddy was a poor substitute for a brother or sister, but I told him all my secrets.
Now I had other best friends and 677 Facebook friends.
‘Is it okay if I use the computer?’ I asked after dinner.
My father’s new computer had been given a bigger room than me.
‘You can borrow your mother’s lap top, we’re on Wi Fi now.’
‘No one goes in Dad’s den’ laughed Mum.
‘It’s only till I get a new phone; you’re not on Facebook yet then?’
‘Load of rubbish,’ said Dad ‘we only got e-mail to keep in touch with you.’
‘We Skype Aunty Dot in Canada’ added Mum.
Things had moved on since I’d been away.
I spent a busy evening checking e-mails and looking up old friends instead of career opportunities.
By the next evening I was trying out my new smart phone, the latest model. After a few phone calls I checked out Facebook.
You have one new friend.
Strange, I had not accepted any new friends.
The new friend was born 5th June 1987, a week after me. There was a picture of him with that familiar smile. It was Teddy. Who was playing a joke? Only my parents knew about Teddy, but they didn’t know how to get on Facebook and they didn’t have a sense of humour.
I scrolled down to see what other friends were up to, hoping I had imagined Teddy. Parties, weddings, jobs and feeble jokes, plenty had happened since I had been in the internet café in Sydney. I scrolled back up. Teddy had made a comment.
I’m back, the dark days are over.
I left Teddy on the windowsill where I had put him last night and went downstairs. My parents were watching a ‘Nordic Noir’ drama.
‘I thought you said you didn’t do Facebook, which of you put Teddy on?’
They were too busy reading the sub titles to take in what I was saying.
‘Oh people put such rubbish on the internet.’
When the titles came up they came back to life. ‘Any luck yet? It’s not easy for anyone to get a job at the moment. Have you been in touch with your uni. friends? You have to network these days.’
I retreated with the genuine excuse that I was still suffering from jet lag and went to bed with a book, but I could not resist one last look at my phone.
Come over and see my new flat, Dilly.
Welcome back, do you want to meet up for a drink for old time’s sake? Tom.
Where are you staying? P.S. Like your new Facebook friend, L.O.L. xx Tim.
I went on Facebook. Teddy now had 5 likes and 1 comment from Tim.
Welcome back Teddy.
I logged out and tried to get to sleep, Teddy was still smiling on the window sill.
I slept in, woken by my phone ringing. It was Kate.
Sorry to wake you, but there’s a position going at my place, thought you might be interested… is everything okay, only you unfriended me on Facebook.
The house was quiet, my parents had gone to work. Teddy had not moved since last night. I sneaked into Dad’s den, perhaps on the large screen everything would be normal.
You have been tagged in Teddy’s picture.
A picture of us together when we were both the same size. I went into the tiny lounge. They had kept the best bookcase and in it were the precious photograph albums.
Amy, one week old, with new friend.
There I was lying on the sofa with Teddy. There had to be a rational explanation. I returned to the screen. My bear now had 35 friends, my friends. I looked up his details.
Work and education: St. Bear’s Infant’s School.
Interested in: Humans
Activities: Chillaxing at home.
Teddy had been the only pupil at St. Bear’s, I was his teacher.
When I glanced back at the page he had posted a message.
Ho Hum, sitting on the windowsill…
That was how he spoke to me when I was a child, he always prefaced each sentence with Ho Hum when he whispered in my ear.
Another phone call; friends at a conference nearby; a proper evening out with sensible adults, but when I got there I did not get the warm greeting I expected.
‘What’s going on Amy, you’ve unfriended us all on Facebook.’
‘No, it’s a great joke, I’ve got a teddy bear for a friend’ said one of the guys who had drunk too much, already keying into his phone. ‘Another message’ Ho Hum, all on my own, Amy’s gone out. ‘Hey, you’ve been tagged in his picture… I like the underwear.’
Despite my best intentions I had taken my phone out of my bag and logged onto Facebook. Teddy had posted a picture of me in the bedroom, about to put on the dress I was wearing now. On the windowsill behind me he sat smiling.
Teddy has 196 friends.
I checked my details.
You have 1 friend.
‘You Have One Friend’ is one of the stories in Dark and Milk – download for only 99 pence.
This is what happened last year, last week, next week…
SERVER NOT FOUND, words guaranteed to strike dread in the hearts of anyone expecting to go on line in the next few seconds. When I saw those words I tried every device in the house, only to get the same answer. I did not need to go on the internet, it was a catching up with housework day. At least we hadn’t had a power cut; electricity not WiFi was all that was needed to work the washing machine, vacuum cleaner and most importantly the radio, the only companion that makes chores bearable.
So why was I experiencing medium levels of stress, anxiety and restlessness?
First cause was the question Why? Obviously the Internet works by magic, but what had broken the spell and would the magic ever return?
Second worry; I was due to Facetime family in Australia early the next morning.
Third problem; I needed ( wanted ) to post tomorrow’s blog.
Finally came the hollow panic: what was I missing while off line? Would I be the last relative to put a sad emoticon on Facebook if a baby wasn’t well or if someone was in casualty? Were there any important e-mails? Would WordPressdom manage without me, were there any comments to comment on?
There was a time when I wasn’t on Facebook or WordPress; further back I didn’t have an e-mail address. There is a telephone in the house attached to a land line, which at some stage beams up to a satellite. I could just phone Australia. Anybody could phone me if there was an emergency. I could still get on with writing on paper … or Microsoft Word… if I ever finished the housework. So why was I still anxious?
When the long suffering Cyberspouse came home he dismissed the gravity of the situation, commenting calmly that Virgin was probably ‘down’. However, he decided he would unplug the router and plug it in again. Instantly messages and Whatsapps pinged into our mobile phones. Facebook lit up the large ( old television ) screen of my desk top computer. I was delighted, proof indeed that the internet works by magic. The way to restore it is by a magic spell that I cannot perform; the internet has to be switched off and on by someone who is not a technophobe and who is totally uninterested in social media.
I was late cooking dinner that evening ( again ) because I had to check all my multi media connections. And what had I missed?
Sunset pictures from Facebook photographer friends.
A petition to save a cow swimming in the harbour after escaping from a live export ship in Fremantle Port, Western Australia.
Three million bloggers had commented on thousands of other bloggers’ blogs.
I am not (am I not? ) a Facebook Fanatic or WordPress Prisoner… After several years of being blissfully without a mobile phone I am now on my second third hand Smart phone and used to ( dependent on )the security of knowing I can check Facebook while I am out to make sure I’m not missing anything. I can take photographs with my phone and post them so that Facebook Friends and Instagram Followers do not miss anything I’m doing out in real life. On the bus I can read blogs and post comments…
My Dark and Milk collection has two stories about what can go horribly wrong on Facebook. ‘You Have One Friend’ and ‘Friend Request’.
Look out for Friday Flash Fiction where you can read ‘You Have One Friend’.
It’s a tragedy, so many years wasted, so many years of our lives unblogged and the more decades you have put in on this planet, the greater the loss. Interesting events could have been shared legibly with the world instead of scribbled on an aerogramme to a few family and friends.
For those who haven’t been to a post office museum, an aerogramme bore little resemblance to Instagram, but in its own humble way was very convenient. A foldable gummed piece of blue paper bought from the post office; the idea being to write in large neat script at the top, then realise you had plenty yet to say and pack the words in tighter. By the time you turned over to the fourth and last panel you were reduced to illegible scribble with hardly room to sign your name. Then stick it down and post in a letter box. Perhaps there are attics full of these flimsy blue papers, full of family history across the seas…
On holiday people could send picture post cards and still can, but they would not be in the picture… how many miles of travel unrecorded on Facebook, Instagram and blogs? Travellers had to wait till they got back to their hotel or tent to try and write to their loved ones, more likely no one would know where they had been until they had returned and who would believe they had been at the top of that mountain or canoed round those tropical islands without proof?
If you could go back in time and blog about your life which times would you reveal? A worse thought; if your parents had been blessed with the internet would they have been writing funny blogs about your nappy disasters at the swimming pool changing room or your tantrum in the supermarket…
Should you be on Instagram? Of course, you should be on everything, just in case you miss something.
What is Instagram for? I have absolutely no idea, but it is quite fun.
‘Instagram is a photo and video-sharing social networking service owned by Facebook, Inc. It was created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, and launched in October 2010.’
Any the wiser?
Don’t worry, as long as you have a mobile phone that takes pictures you can join. Post your picture and put some hashtags. Why, I’m not sure, but if you put #brightonpier you are linked with all the other people who have taken better pictures of Brighton Pier. Some people put a few hashtags, others a whole list of them, which is a teeny bit showing off.
But the most important thing, Rule One, is to take pictures instantly and send them off instantly. As soon as you arrive on holiday or you are in the middle of a big street demonstration, take a photo with your phone so that your followers will be envious, or impressed that you are protesting instead of sitting at home on the sofa looking at your phone. Don’t try to cheat by sending a picture of last year’s holiday; especially if it is a picture of you standing in front of Notre Dame. Someone is sure to find out…
Hey I’m in Venice at the moment and it’s raining not sunny.
Or That’s the Brexit march, not Extinction Rebellion.
Rule two, post pictures every day, or better still, every hour in case your followers wonder what has happened to you. If you are not going anywhere, or your life is unbelievably dull you can always pop in the garden, or someone else’s garden and take pictures of flowers. People like bright happy flowers to cheer their day. If you have a cat or puppy, even better, followers will never tire of endless pictures of your pet’s cuteness.
How do you get followers? Wait or follow other people and hope they follow you. Occasionally you may get a message
ilovemyself is now following you, why not follow them back.
Look at their gallery, if they only take pictures of themselves you may not want to follow them…
Hopefully you will soon see a little red heart flashing to tell you someone liked your picture. You can also share your pictures on Facebook and Twitter, though when you go on Facebook and see your picture on the big computer screen it may not look as good as it did on your little phone screen…
If you like looking at photos there are always plenty on my website.
Do you like taking photographs?
Do you prefer phones or cameras?
Do you enjoy posting pictures on social media?
It’s hard to believe, but there are some people who are not on Facebook. Think of what they are missing. These are some of the things I have learnt from Facebook. Cats and dogs can get on together. Lots of people like cats, lots of people like dogs. Horses like visiting people in hospital. Baby pandas just wanna have fun. Walruses like sleeping on submarines.
You can also learn about people on Facebook, what they are eating at the new restaurant or what got stolen from their van last night. You can even find out about people you actually know. In fact Facebook is the only way you will find out what your family are doing – if you can decipher the cryptic messages and pictures. Are they still stuck broken down on the motorway. Is that their Pyrenean Mountain Dog puppy or their friend’s ? What on earth are they doing at Sheremetyevo International Airport?
What do you post on Facebook? There is no need to bother catching up with emails and phone calls to numerous friends and relatives. If you want everyone to know your latest news just post an enigmatic message. ‘Another hot day on the Nullabor Plain.’ Soon you will be inundated with messages from long lost friends.
Hey hun, what’s up, didn’t the job in Northampton work out?
Or post an ultrasound picture of a black and white alien with the words ‘Tabitha is going to have a baby brother.’
Hugs hun, sooo pleased for you.
But Facebook has more than one page to scroll down; if you are a writer you can have an author page, if you run your own business you can have a page promoting your fantastic products and services. The advantage is that everything on that page is yours, unlike the rest of Facebook, full of boring other people. The only drawback, probably no one is ever going to see it. But just in case anyone accidentally finds themselves at Your Page, make sure your profile picture is sophisticated and professional.
Never has it been so easy to not be yourself. Everyone can have a platform to project their persona. Whether you blog in detail about your daily life or fill Facebook with photos of your family, half the world can be invited into your life and they have no idea if it is really you.
How do we know what you are telling us is true? It is much more fun to make up a life, a past and present. Of course if friends and family in real life are reading your blog and seeing your posts on Facebook, they will know. If you have no friends in real life, even better, nobody out there will know the real you. Write about your dramatic decade or your perfect present, take twenty years off your age. Post pictures of someone else or recreate yourself in cartoon form. When you are on holiday take photographs of the view from ‘your house’. In the botanical gardens snap ‘your garden’. When you feel like a break from blogging invent a rare illness or a life threatening operation.
But will anybody find out you didn’t really spend ten years in the Amazon ( the real Amazon in South America ) Jungle. No. Even in real life you can recreate yourself every time you move to a new town. How often do you meet new people and believe every word they tell you about their life, which is far more interesting than yours. And your good friends; off they go to visit their highly successful son who owns a tropical island. You have never met the son, because he lives on his tropical island. Unless you actually go with them on holiday how do you know any of it is true?
Among writers Dan Mallory has apparently surpassed us all by being nominated for the British Book Awards, despite or perhaps because he cheated at being British. The best selling author also lied about having cancer and the death of family members. It should come as no surprise to hear that he writes under a pen name A. J. Finn. Perhaps he doesn’t exist at all, which would be an even cleverer cheat.
But what about the rest of us? Even if you are not outed as a pathological liar by The New Yorker magazine, do WordPress or Facebook know where you really live, can they pinpoint your location, see you sitting in your pyjamas at your computer in a corner of your suburban bedroom, instead of the pine summerhouse looking out over the lower slopes of the Alps. Yes, of course they can, but are they going to tell?
Everyone is welcome here.
Tidalscribe will be Remaining in the European Union.