The great Facebook experiment

Facebook like circle

Normally we use Facebook as an excuse to put off work. This time, I've been guilty of sitting on a post about using Facebook for ages. I remain a master of procrastination.

I have commented in the past about how having a blog allows people to keep up to date with the wildly embellished more interesting parts of your life. That's great. However, it can lead to a downturn in people contacting you to see what you've been doing, as all of my wonderful readers stay regularly informed through Tall Travels. Generating comments and questions online can be tough too. My 'reverse blogging' experiment last year failed miserably.

Facebook is even worse for this. I often my self saying "Oh yeah I know", or "I saw something about that on Facebook" when talking about other friends' news. The wealth of information available to us has made us hungry for thousands of small pieces of information rather than larger, more in-depth stories. We want to know a little about everything, a little about everyone. Who even looks at their own digital photo albums now? Just doing that will always draw a smile out of you.

We scroll through our 'newsfeeds' at breakneck speeds:

ah Barry had fish pie for dinner . . .
I'll have a quick look at Harry's new baby pictures . . .
and Larry's sister has finished her degree I see . . .

We all have friends on Facebook that we haven't spoken to in a long time. Yet their activity still sparks interest when it pops up on screen. So to get away from the downward spiral of becoming a Facebook lurker, I decided to push the issue and message old connections directly.

I chose 26 people, one from each letter of the alphabet (although x proved a little tricky) to message. I tried to capture a variety of friends that I'm not regularly in contact with. They included acquaintances from:

Previous jobs

Just writing the messages brought a smile to my face. I took me a good few hours to bang out the emails, but I already felt better for doing it. I hadn't even finished sending them out before the replies started to roll in.

Even if the reply is pretty much just an acknowledgement of your boastful / nosey enquiry, they are really gratifying to receive.

Of course it is disappointing when someone doesn't reply, but contrary to popular opinion not everyone gets Facebook alerts sent to their phone every ten seconds. Messages can also get kind of buried in your account when you use that function a lot so some will go unnoticed.

. . . or maybe they just didn't reply.


However, if that really is the case, then you know they really are acquaintances more than real friends and can move on.


and overall, the process gave me a pretty happy feeling reconnecting with everyone, a sense of accomplishment. Well a bigger sense of accomplishment than just watching Internet cat videos anyway.


Doing something so easy as messaging friends may seem obvious but it got me thinking about this article from the Good News Network which lists 10 simple ways to boost your happiness on a daily basis. Some of them are so simple and accessible, yet I found myself thinking that's very true! for almost every point. We just don't do them often enough.

I highly recommend that you read it, and try it!

Her: A film about how it's OK for hipsters
to genuinely fall in love with their smart phones.
I'm not saying that our bad habits (procrastination) can be changed overnight, if at all, but I am going to try and implement some changes myself.

Writing these messages and watching the recent Spike Jonze flick 'Her' (highly recommended), made me think about writing more letters. Actual physical letters and cards. In the film, Joachin Phoenix's character works for a company that writes personalised letters between friends or lovers. I still don't quite understand how he could know everything about his clients' lives, but it's an interesting concept.

Writing letters takes way more time and is infinitely more expensive that writing electronically. But it is infinitely more gratifying to receive a letter, than a cellphone alert. I don't know anyone who actively prefers reading electronically either.

The smile that a thoughtful letter brings is undoubtedly worth the high postage price, and for those that say they don't have time to write, bullshit. You do.

You do.

Everyone has a spare half an hour per day. It's just that you choose to do something else, watch TV, eat out, read. So, for those readers who know this Tall Traveller, expect to have your letterbox breached by some fine words of mine soon.

In summary, make changes, write more, and stop pulling those crap "I can't" excuses. You can. And there ends the motivation speech of the day. Wow, that was a preachy one!


P.S. I would normally promote this post on Facebook to bring it to the attention of my friends, but it somehow seems counter productive to show people to my post about Facebook via Facebook

P.P.S. Yes, I realise that preaching about the death of physical letters on a blog is hypocritical, obviously. So if you would like to purchase the printed version of this, please send a self addressed envelope, along with $50 to Tall Travels, PO Box 9568, Middle of nowhere, Mexico.