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The Great Facebook Debate

The Ex and I have an ongoing argument about social networking. He says things like, ‘Facebook has ruined the art of conversation’, or ‘People should keep in contact by phone. I mean, how can you tell if a person’s really okay if you can’t hear their voice?’

I say stuff like, ‘What about the disabled or sick who rely on sites like Twitter or Facebook for keeping in touch with people they might otherwise never see,’ or ‘I’ve made loads of friends through these sites, that I would never have ‘met’ through conventional channels’.  And it gives members of my family the perfect platform for verbal abuse. Who am I deny such perfect vehicles for vitriolic communications?

A bag with a smiley face design that bids the ...

Image via Wikipedia

On Saturday evening The Ex and I were re-hashing the same old argument. It went something like this:

The Ex: ‘So, have you heard from Eldest Son since he’s back at uni?’

Me: ‘No, but I know he’s fine ‘cos I’ve seen his comments on Facebook.’  Too late, I realised my mistake and tried desperately to suck those flammable words back inside my treacherous mouth, but the little bastards refused to be contained: like mischievous toddlers escaped from the playpen, they were free and out to cause chaos.

The Ex, spluttering: ‘What d’you mean, you’ve seen his comments on Facebook – you can’t tell anything from those; he could’ve been writing those status updates from the Bristol Royal Infirmary – with one finger because  the rest of him was in a body cast!’

Plaster cast on forearm/wrist/hand. Picture ta...

Image via Wikipedia

Me: ‘Had that been the case I’m sure he would’ve posted that on Facebook. In fact he would’ve exaggerated it to wind me up by saying  a cute nurse was typing because he’d lost all his fingers.’

The Ex: ‘You’re missing the point. You can’t tell from the written word whether he’s happy or stressed or hanging from a noose in his flat!’

Me (smugly): ‘I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to reach his laptop if he were hanging from the rafters. And I’m also confident that he would phone me if there were a problem.’

The Ex: ‘Aaah, but you don’t know for sure. I’m surprised you haven’t phoned him.’

Me: ‘I’m trying not to Mom all over him.’

The Ex: ‘Even so, he should have rung you.’

Me: ‘It’s only been a week! I’m sure he’s fine, just busy catching up with mates and stuff. And we don’t normally communicate much at the beginning of term. It’s more in the last few weeks when he’s starting to run out of money. Or when I get concerned about his bowels, and have to ring and ask, “Have you eaten any vegetables this term, son? I know, I’ll send you some money – you can buy frozen peas. Peas are easy, peas are good for you. I like peas.” ‘

Small PEAS logo.jpg

Image via Wikipedia

 And peas have a social conscience.

The conversation burbled along, and as soon as I put the phone down, it rang again.

Eldest Son: ‘Hi Mum, gotta problem. Well, not so much of a problem, more of a query. Do I put the lid on the casserole dish for pasta bake, or leave it uncovered?’

Ha! I was right! But, just to be on the safe side, I slipped in a few subtle questions: ‘So…. ummm… where are you at the moment?’

Eldest Son: ‘Well, where do you think I am? I’ll give you a clue: I’m trying to put my tea in the oven, if only someone would tell me whether it needs a lid or not.’

Me: ‘Yes! Put a lid on for the first twenty minutes, then grate some cheese and leave uncovered for the cheese to brown. Now, where are you?’


Okay, so I can cross the hospital off the list. I know the NHS are making cut-backs, but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have the patients making their own dinner. Especially ones wearing an all-over body plaster cast. Now I just need to make sure he isn’t suicidal: ‘Now, where exactly are your feet?’

Eldest Son: ‘Same place they’ve always been, mother. On the end of my legs.’

Me, sighing: ‘Yes, but where exactly are they in relation to, say – the floor, or the … umm… ceiling?’

Eldest Son: ‘Have they put you on wacky drugs or something?’

Me: ‘No. I’ve just been talking to your father.’

Eldest Son: ‘Oh, right. That explains it, then.’

Funny face!!

Image via Wikipedia

So, my question to you is this: Are social networking sites the work of the Devil? Are they causing a breakdown in communications? Are we being too lazy by relying on sites like Facebook or Twitter to keep us in touch? Or, do you think that they add to the whole communication process? Do they play a valuable role in keeping us connected to both people we love and the outside world?

I would love to hear your comments. Please, add your opinion to this ongoing, never-ending debate of ours!


About Tiny Temper

I'm a middle-aged freelance writer living in Cornwall. And no, it's not all sun, sand and steaming pasties. I've been married, done the divorce and accidentally shrunk the tee-shirt.

8 responses »

  1. Hey there,
    I read this twice and still have some tears in my eyes from laughing out loud (mind me, Im in the office);
    If someone really wants to know how I am he/she should come over and visit me or check my status on Facebook.
    Calling me on the phone usually ends with some kind of misunderstanding… every time I call my ex (which is maybe twice a year) I end up having nothing to say or having too many things to say and not enough time to say it in the order I wanna say. Therefore, I retreated to a nice lengthy emails and thorough chats during which I can also have a coffee, tea, a sendwich and still have his full attention.

    • Hi V, laughing out loud in the office? Oops!

      I should take a leaf out of your book – sounds like you’ve got the situation pretty much sewn up 🙂
      I think sometimes, it’s easier to write things down that express ’em in person, especially when talking to The Ex…

      Thank-you so much for commenting; it’s always appreciated 🙂

  2. I would have LOVED to have been a fly on the wall for THAT conversation with the Ex!!! Priceless! Just priceless!!

    If he’s THAT concerned about the Eldest, then HE can call and be the nagging parent! My husband is the same way. I’m all for letting the kids fly from the coop. If there’s a problem, they’ll let us know. I’m not going to be ringing the kid once a day to make sure he’s changed his underwear.


    I think you two have proved that Social Networking hasn’t killed the person to person conversation. I mean look at the productive one you two just had!

    • It’s the same old, same old. Neither of us’ll give an inch, and each time, we come up with the same old arguments – sorry, discussion points… And neither of us is ever gonna win, ‘cos we’ve got such opposing views!

      Y’see, I am one of those mums who’d be ringing every day to see if he’s eaten his peas, so I have to pull back, for both our sakes or he’ll be thirty and I’ll still be phoning, saying ‘how are your bowels doing, love?’ 😀

      Exactly! As long as you don’t rely totally on FB or Twitter tweets, then where’s the problem?

  3. I’m entirely on both sides of the argument, I think. I’ve found Facebook invaluable for staying on contact with friends and even making new ones, but I’ve also seen social networking sites do a lot of damage to friendships and relationnships. Like anything, I think it has to be used responsibly (apart from chocolate, that should never been involved with responsibility).

    • The voice of reason. Please can you come and referee all our discussions? 🙂
      I think Friends Reunited caused a lot of problems for people who suddenly saw their First True Love after 20-odd years and ditched their partners beacuse of it. FB can be similar, I agree.
      Am totally with you on the chocolate. Never ration my chocolate…Grrrr!

  4. Still wheezing with laughter at your wonderful blog. Before I became largely housebound c2005 I couldn’t see much use in Facebook (only heard about Farmville and “privacy” issues). Later joined FB (rather warily at first) to keep in touch with family (including distant cousins met through family history) and friends all over world. Never looked back & know even my own cousins & old schoolfriends probably more deeply than I did in past. I didn’t like to phone etc as I always felt intrusive cos I’m single, while they’ve busy family lives & it might not have been convenient. Social networking is so much more “convenient” for all.

    As you said, you can actually tell quite a bit from statuses (or lack of) & there’s always PM/DMs too. Unlike email, often exhausting, lengthy or time-gapped, you can have proper casual conversations on FB & Twitter in real time and joke, support, chat, get info, share photos, news etc etc more like “real” informal conversation. The phone is a real no-go area at moment with brainfog. Without call screening, I end up picking up to marketing firms and wasting spoons & always caught unprepared to give coherent answers. Like you, made loads of wonderful new friends through social media which is a lifeline to self and others. Working colleagues too seem to find it useful as an extra way to organise, publicise and offer support. In true “1066 and all That” style, I think use of social media is overall a “Good Thing”. Like everything in life, you get out what you put in! xxx

    • Wheezing? You sure you’re not allergic to my blog? 🙂

      I agree. I often feel exhausted by phone calls, and like you, seem to get every salesman in the country on the phone, and then I can’t be impolite and end up listening to this great long spiel about double glazing or roof insulation :-/ I can really appreciate the need for those mainly housebound; social networking sites must provide a valuable link with the outside world, and a platform for them to contribute.

      Thanks, Joyce for commenting so thoroughly 🙂


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