Monday 15 June 2009

Deface yourself and become a bamboo!



It started with a simple email from my old friend, the Guru: 

‘Hi, just to let you know I'm closing my Facebook account.'

I wanted to do it too, but my vanity said I should wait a while, otherwise I’d look like a prat incapable of original action. 

But then I got another email from somebody on Facebook, a friend of a friend of a friend who wanted to add my birthday to their Facebook Birthday Calendar and I thought no. 

Nuhuh. That’s it. 

I don’t know their birthday because I hardly know them at all. The people who already know my birthday are the ones who matter to me. 

Of course I could have just ignored it, but that wouldn’t stop more people coming along who wanted to send me a badge, ask me to choose my favourite food colours, or demand I eat my own toejam for a laugh. 

Don’t get me wrong. I completely understand why Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, bebo, Second Life and all the other social networking and Web 2.0 sites are such a success. 

Were I a decade younger or simply a slightly less grumpy person, I’d be out there with the rest of you, sharing my whims, fancies and online farts. But the only reason I signed up for Facebook in the first place was to be polite; to respond to requests and generally feel a part of what’s going on. 

Trouble was, I didn’t belong. I never wanted to play Top 10 Popes of the 1970s, or nudge or poke anyone in any way. The whole thing became depressing, as I saw what my Facebook friends were up to. 

Increasingly I felt like a slightly pervy voyeur, wondering if so-and-so wasn’t maybe feeling lonely, what with all the time he was spending playing inane Facebook games. 

Oh look, that ‘friend’ is going away for the weekend, this one is drinking a cocktail and that one is having a cup of coffee. 

A cup of coffee? 

Why would anyone feel the need to share the fact that they are having a cup of bleedin’ coffee? Go on my son. 

Just tick the button, and yippee, my account is deactivated! Well no, apparently it isn’t over yet. 

A page appears with photos of some of my Facebook friends, captioned by ridiculous assumptions: 

‘Deirdre will miss your messages. Herbert wants you to play ‘Lick my Lapel’ games with him. Jerry will miss seeing your face on your profile. Maeve was going to tell you she loves you but has decided not to now that you want to leave Facebook.’ 

What a nasty attempt at emotional blackmail, just to try and make me return to Facebook. Now, what’s this? 

Yet another page, demanding I click a box in a list of possible reasons why I’ve decided to deactivate my Facebook account. None of them come close to reflecting how I feel, so I just click ‘Other.'

Up comes the dreaded internet red print, telling me that having ticked ‘Other’ I’m compelled to explain further in the text box below. 

Failure to do so will result in the cancelling of my account deactivation, bad breath, plague, leg falling off, that kind of thing. Barely managing to restrain the darker side of my vocabulary, I type: 

‘Precisely because of this attitude.’ 

in the text box, and hit return. 

'Tick this box if you don’t want any more emails from Facebook.'

I tick the box, feeling blissfully liberated for a second. At last, my account has been deactivated. No more emails from Facebook.

Bing! A new email arrives ... from Facebook.

It says should I ever want to return to Facebook, all I need to do is log in as normal, and my page and details will still be there, just as I left them. 

So what in God’s good name was all that deactivation shite about, if it’s all still there? 

And, despite the fact that I specifically asked for no Facebook emails, they immediately sent me an email. 

The whole process was truly nasty, and I am delighted to be freed of Facebook. It seems I am not alone. Many others were inspired by the Guru’s leap of faith, and have since defaced themselves, as I call it.

Do I miss it? 

Do I hell!

There’s a physical life out there, with extraordinary people doing fantastic things. Galway City is crammed with them, and sure enough, just the other day I met a particularly amazing human being. Joël Francois was raised by nuns in a Belgian orphanage, and introduced to Martial Arts at the age of 6. 

Recently he passed his Yondan, a 4th Black Belt grading of Traditional Japanese Ju-jutsu. For anybody this would be an extraordinary achievement, but to attain that level by the age of 39 is astonishing. 

Yet the quietly charismatic man refuses to talk about his achievements, instead enthusing about the Martial Arts Festival he is organising in Galway City. 

“Our code of honour in Ju-jutsu is: Integrity, respect, discipline, peace, love with balance. We must be like a cane of bamboo. When times are hard and the wind blows, we must be flexible and bend, so that when times are good we can be strong and upright.”  

So unplug yourself from the recession, the internet or whatever might be getting you or your kids down, and head on down to the show. 

Deface yourself, and make like a bamboo. You just might rebuild your body and free your mind. 

Try doing that on Facebook!

Contact: Galway City School of Judo Unit 27 Oldenway Business Park Ballybrit, Galway, Co. Galway, Ireland 086 251 0909 www.gcsjudo.comocial networking

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