Friday, 26 October 2012

A month without facebook, and no kids either.

I haven't been blogging, because i've been filling the vacuum left by the schooling of the kids with cleaning, library visits, and volunteering. In fact, 6 hours vanishes pretty quickly, and I've found that the days are, if not exactly flying by, at least dawdling fairly quickly. 2 mornings reading with the kids classes, 2 afternoons reading with readers who need extra help, 1 day cleaning, 1 afternoon in the library. Plus, i've picked up a child to tutor ( for real cash!) on a weekend, so a couple of afternoons preparation for that. The odd cuppa with a friend. Leaves precious little fiddling around time, really. But what time there is does tend to stretch ahead of me. I've lost the baility to sit and do nothing, to sit and relax. Instead i'll bake cakes, clean the chicken coop, batch cook for the freezer, anything to avoid daytime TV. I get the jobs done, so that the time I actually have with the kids is time well spent, and not spent flinging fishfingers under the grill.

And they do need that time. Son has homework twice a week, and reading every night. Some of it quite time consuming, not least because I have to look up what a cuboid is. Daughter has pretend books. She, according to the teacher, cannot read, so she still has books with no words in. This is astoninshing to me, as at home she can pretty much read anything you put in front of her, without even sounding out. On approaching madam about this, she merely told me she didn't like reading to the teacher, so she wouldn't. the teacher said she couldn't move up a level till she DID read to her. Madam still won't read to the teacher and is happy that she isn't being given any taxing work, and said that the teacher could just spy on her to see if she understood, as that's what she did with maths. Which is actually true, the teacher DID have to spy on her to get anything to say at parents evening, as madam just blanked her everytime she saw her and stopped what she was doing. So I read with madam, every night instead, and am pondering how best to secretly video her reading the ruddy Biff and Kipper books fluently so I can prove the teacher wrong and stop being patronised. I also secretly admire her gall though: she's right, it is the teachers job to make her want to read. I strongly suspect the teacher hasn't come up against such a Machiavellian 4 year old before.If I had to lay bets on who would win, it wouldn't be her.

One thing I have cut out of "free" time is Facebook. I've cut contact, broken it off, spurned it. I found that I was becoming overwhlemed with drivel. I simply don't want to know who is breaking up with who, what peoples' overwheeningly dull opinions on X-Factor are, who has fallen in love, what they're having for lunch. Similarly, I do not care to spend time being bombarded with ads that appear to think me old, fat and unemployed. Neither do I enjoy being told happy news that is apparently important to me as a friend alongside 455 other "friends". I don't enjoy the way people facebook instead of call, and change arrangements on facebook instead of calling, as if everyone were connected to the damn thing by invitrous facebook chip. Just as I found that mobile phones made people ruder, facebook has taken that rudeness and made it normal. As a keen to get pissed up student, I was not only mobile phoneless ( I was not a millionaire, and probably couldn't have carried one then anyway, such were their great size), but house phoneless too. If I wanted to meet my mates at a certain York Brewhouse, i'd have to (gasp!) telephone them from a call box, or actually speak to them and arrange it. We'd say something like "I'll see you are the Brewhouse at 8pm". And (even bigger gasp), we HAD TO TURN UP. We couldn't text or facebook some pathetic excuse, safe in the knowledge that we wouldn't have to speak to the disappointed person face to face. Facebook has, I feel increased that rudeness to the point of normalcy. Now it's ok to not turn up and just facebook it, even if you're not sure the person is a 100% connected to the damn thing as you are.

Furthermore, facebook has denigrated actual contact with real people. I have friends who don't actually even talk to me. They walk past me at the school gate and even I say "Hi!", they don't. I have friend requests from people i've never even met. I have people knowing my business via facebook friends. I have people who will chat on facebook, but won't in real life. I have people who are happy to parade their racist/ misogynist crap around on a public forum and who get cross at the school gate when I defriend them. I have, in short, about 5 real friends who actually bother to phone and visit. And i'm just as guilty. Recently, i've found myself asking friends if they fancy a coffee on it, when I could have just rung them. Why? It's much nicer to have a chat. Why am I allowing myself to be sucked in?

(It should be said that I exclude my far flung real friends from this: there is a real joy in being able to contact my old friends who now live abroad, and too distantly for me to visit. It is not at them this rant is aimed, but the village of people who actually live with me but apparently don't live in the real world).

And, what is most annoying, is how much time it saps. Why not turn the damn thing off a for a bit and see what happens? I'm off grid on facebook till December, and I will be most interested to see which of my 4 gazillion friends bothers to chase me up for a chat.

So, expect the next post to be of a facebook withdrawl symptom mania, with a video of my daughter refusing to read.