Facebook friends

I’ve been thinking recently about Facebook. More specifically been thinking about how I use it, what I hope to achieve with it and how I can best operationalise that. That’s a rather long way of saying that I sometimes struggle to get messages through to the right people or to make sure that they don’t get through to the wrong people. That probably sounds a little more paranoid than intended.

For instance, if I’m posting about Parkinson’s, that may (or may not) appeal to those of my Facebook contacts with Parkinson’s or those having in some way a vested interest in Parkinson’s. Patients, carers, nurses, neurologists – those sort of people. For most of my family however, both nuclear and wider, the minutiae of day-to-day living with Parkinson’s, however insightful, are about as interesting as a party political broadcast. Maybe even less.

So first of all, I looked closely at the kind of things I post on Facebook. Now, on the whole, I try not to post pictures of animals. I know that many of you do but please, for the moment, contain your ire. No slight intended. All this I have nothing against pictures of animals – many are cute and fully deserving of their corner of cyberspace. And good on you. Just not my bag.

Of course I’m not claiming the moral high ground – I’ve posted enough pictures of hand made paella, cricket bats, home-grown fruit, antique microscopes, and so on. And when it comes to selfies, I am as much a recidivist as any. Probably worse. In fact I think Facebook more or less created the selfie, For many, that’s what Facebook is about – a little light relief against this apocalyptic backdrop we seem unable to eliminate. And what’s wrong with that? Jolly good I say.

Much of the above probably comes across as tetchy, grumpy and critical. And if it does, that’s probably the manner of delivery rather than the sentiment. Facebook is like television. It’s just a medium. And whether your preference is for Strictly Come Dancing or Blue Planet, American football or sumo, Grease or Apocalypse Now, there is something for everyone. Facebook is just the same.

But for me, from my little corner of the ether, Facebook is primarily a medium for drawing attention to my recent writings on my website, in particular the blog part, where I fire off periodic salvos on whatever has caught my fancy or irked me. Recent posts have discussed the lack of preparedness for the coronavirus second phase, a rhapsody on village cricket, ramblings about spare bedrooms, symptoms of Parkinson’s and a celebration of the title winning Liverpool team. Hardly anything falls outside my orbit. No subject is too rarefied for you, dear readers, to not be treated to the fruits of my wisdom (tongue firmly in cheek).

And herein lies the problem. I freely concede that not everybody on Facebook (or I should say my friends since my profile is not public) is interested in everything I write. And you only have to read a couple of articles that fail to stimulate your intellectual tastebuds before you slip into the “I’ll read that later” category. Later, of course, means never.

The issue is targeting. I need a way to make sure that my parky friends are alerted to pieces pertaining to Parkinson’s, without having to sift through long screeds about the latest England fast bowler or how Wagner influenced 20th-century music making. Separating the wheat from the chaff but, of course, remembering that one man’s wheat is another man’s chaff.

So, over the next couple of days I’m going to try to find some way of creating subgroups which allow posts on Parkinson’s to go to those interested (or at the very least engaged). If I get this right they will be spared my discourse on the wines of Pauillac. Or whatever.

This may take a little while and will necessitate some guesses on my part if I can’t remember which category some individuals fall into. So there will be mistakes. Of that you can be assured. But if you feel you are being erroneously deprived of my articles on 16th century Byzantine teapots because I have misplaced you, let me know. And no, I haven’t actually written an article on teapots of any nationality.

This is in large part an experiment and therefore, like all science, subject to failure. But bear in mind that this is an effort to help you read less of my writings rather than more. Small mercy you may feel. And of course if I vanish from your Facebook feed, you will know that I have misplaced you into the wrong category. If so, sorry. My bad. But at least you’ll be spared the paella.