On FB that is. It really has felt like a monumental move, like coming out into the world, marking another checkbox in social-acceptance. After weeks of everybody and their aunt telling me how much I am missing out, what a great “marketing tool” (read: pimp-mobile) it is, last week I decided to bite the bullet and do it. I came back out into the world, in a way that my little world will accept me.
Real-talk: I am in the midst of a fairly big overhaul for the food blog. Some changes, large and small, are afoot. In time, I will be taking the blog down to smooth the edges, and introduce something new. Since the husband and I are managing this change ourselves, learning on the go and working out the kinks on our own, it might take a while before we get a slick, smooth site up and running. There may be a brief period of time where you do not have access to Hungry & Excited.
So if you’re interested in staying in touch, or in tune with the food blog in its newer avatar, do like the Hungry & Excited fb page, because it is where you will get updates for what is to come.
I turned on the fb charm on myself, albeit in a slightly contrived and unnatural way than I’d have liked to, because it seems blog -> website -> fb page is the only logical progression these days. I fought it for as long as I could, and the last straw came when I realised that the proposed Hungry & Excited overhaul that has been in the works for a while, might result in some feeds and links being broken. So I figured an fb page could act as a temporary space of interaction. I hate having succumbed, I hate it every morning when I have to sign in and grit my teeth and force myself to make a customary “update”, but I’m trying to make peace by looking at this as a good time for a healthy purge in subscriptions, hoping that those that only those who enjoy the cooking and photo sharing, those with whom I have a healthy exchange of information and learning, and with others like me in the foodie-novice space, will come back to reconnect. And the rest will peacefully fall off the grid.
So what’s new on fb for a returned user like me? On the surface, nothing really. Everything looks new, but more like a non-user-friendly rearrangement of what was. I find everything a lot more complicated than it used to be. Though I asked around and everyone seems to think otherwise. Maybe I am just rusty.
I have to say, for someone who had been away close to two years and not missed it at all, for someone who was a serial status updater and serial photo uploader just two years ago, coming back has left me more than underwhelmed. There was the initial tizzy of rediscovering people, re-adding them, constantly getting bombarded by requests, and dealing with a gazillion notifications, but in just 2-odd days that died down and I had the okay-now-what? moment too.
What I do love is the access to groups and pages, which was just about starting off when I decided to get off fb last time. The idea of mini forums of discussion and interaction seems to have picked up a lot more steam in the interim. That, is definite improvement, a new pro. I know it isn’t just me who seems a bit bored or meh with the concept of fb-as-it-was, because my newsfeed doesn’t really change all that much and as often as it used to. Almost everybody else on my list, seems to have outgrown doing the things we once did all the time on fb — pictures, status updates, yada yada. I find more activity on the pages and discussion forums. I didn’t really need yet another channel for that, as if I don’t get enough of it on my own blog, the scores that I frequent and my mostly-here-for-the-reading attitude to twitter.
When I was away I sometimes missed the number of intelligent dialogues and debates I got to witness, the links that were thrown around that I would probably not have seen otherwise, but now I find even that noisy, shrill and unnecessary. I find way too many people engaging on huge debates on fb, and I am not sure too many of them do anything about any of the issues in real life. I feel its better to do a little bit in whatever way you can, and keep quiet about it, than vehemently share opinions all over the place and do nothing at all. As for the links, I find them all on twitter, where I choose what I want to see, minus the unnecessary onslaught of pictures, sponsored feeds, game requests and check-ins (yes, some people still do that shit!).
I look back to what I missed when I was away form fb, and I cannot think of much. Since I had already thinned down my friends list beyond recognition, eliminating those I didn’t care to connect with, it was easy to get off, stay off and not want to come back. With the real friends that I have, I hung on to gtalk, whatsapp, lots of email and the good old telephone calls to stay in touch. Oh look! We managed to be friends even outside of fb! So it seems that charm of staying-in-touch is not the central one anymore. I have to admit, I wasn’t even tempted and haven’t yet indulged in any fb stalking, also something I used to do a fair bit. In fact I barely even look at my personal page, friends list or newsfeed anymore.I log in, go directly to my groups feed, scrool, read, log off.
I’ve realised that fb has transformed itself from being the place to connect with people you once knew, to find people you’ve lost touch with, and stay in touch with those in your circle to this massive marketing vehicle to sell pretty much anything. Fb has given a lot of mediocre opinions a lot of importance. Its become a place to breed mediocrity of all kinds. Every second Johnnie with a DSLR now has his own firstname-lastname-photography page. Every blogger like me has a page to pimp our work. Every business is screaming offers and sales at us. Which is okay by itself I suppose, and which is why I am there too. Pimp. Pimp. Pimp.
But when did it get so easy to take the shortcut from hobbyist to expert? Fb seems to have become the quick route, the one that bypasses the rigour and learning that used to go into mastering any art form or skill. Take the fb route, circumvent the long and hard way, and jump directly to the end where you have a million fans.
I’m sorry if I sound old-school and aunty-like, but this is what I really believe. Actually I’m not sorry. Because 10,000 likes does not equal to any kind of real validation about my writing or cooking skills. Even a million likes on my page and a thousand followers on the blog will not make me a chef. Not unless I go through the rigour of culinary school. Not unless I finally go to baking school, put in the 10,000 hours of effort that are needed to make me an expert or an outlier and then I get out there and wow you. No matter how many nice things you say about my food pictures, will encourage me to rewrite my bio calling myself a photographer. I am an amateur hobbyist at best.
Until then, I am just an average home-baker, an over-enthusiastic home-cook, looking for yet another way to reach out to like-minded people. I’m just another sucker, pimping my blog on fb.