Sunday 2 December 2012

Mo' facebook friends Mo' problems!

Social networking and maintaining a profile for yourself can be a mental conundrum sometimes!

A recently published study from the University of Edinburgh Business School claims that the more friends a person has on facebook the more stressful it becomes maintaining your presence on the social networking site.

Previously, people were friends with their contemporaries at college, or other local students. Nowadays with the 1 billion facebook users worldwide, people are more likely to have different networks of friends in different places, all having access to your status updates. As well as college friends, people befriend work colleagues including their boss, friends from the sportsclub, members of their family including parents, friends of friends, even ex partners.

All this can result in a potential landmine when you write status updates or post photos. There is always the fear of offending someone if you use bad language or say something that is politically incorrect. You worry about photos showing you having too much of a good time in a bar on a Saturday night. Over half of potential employers in another study admitted to rejecting prospective job candidates after having checked out their facebook profiles.

It's true, I sometimes find the whole facebook thing a headache!

As a club cyclist, it is quite useful to find out what is going on in the cycling community by looking on facebook, especially as many of my facebook friends are cyclists.

It is quite common for them to put in their status updates how much cycle training they've done, where they went etc. It's all very interesting, but sometimes it becomes a competition. One person posts that they rode 50 miles through the Kent hills, and will include their Strava statistics. Someone else posts that they did 70 miles through the Surrey Hills, someone else will say they rode up the steepest hill in Yorkshire 10 times, another hardy soul spent 4 hours on the turbo trainer, then another gladidatorial pretendent outdoes everyone by saying they rode all the mountain passes of the Alps!

I sense another round of competitive bravado approaching as people talk about how long they spent out riding in sub-zero temperatures, and how they soldiered on despite losing all sensation in half of their limbs, and their saliva freezing to their membranes!

The other source of peer pressure is regarding where to go cycling. It's not enough to ride your bike around your local area. You have to go away somewhere with it. So folks will post pics of riding up or down switchbacks in scenic places like Mallorca, the Alps or mountainbiking in Colorado. You have to be seen in some exotic, sunkissed place in your most sylish kit, sporting bronzed, rippling calf muscles, and preferably alongside a high profile cycle racer. It all goes towards looking like you are "Someone" who is doing "Things".

And it's not just about where you go, and what you do, it's also about what you ride. Lots of folks now post photos of their brand spanking new steeds, complete with go faster stripes, superfast wheels and all the other gadgets that give marginal gains. If you can't psyche out the competition with your athletic prowess do it by showing off your tools!

Mind you, I must say that is one competition I can't and won't engage in. For me it's just a sure way to attract bike thieves - potentially another source of stress!

So yes, all this keeping up with the Jones can be a source of anxiety when on facebook. I no longer feel that I can just post an ordinary photo of me riding my bog standard bike in the lanes near where I live. And there's no point in mentioning my bike ride unless it involved riding 100 miles and it took in at least a few quad-busting hills! I won't even mention taking part in any cycle race unless I have the silverware to show off. (So no one will know anything about my cycle racing exploits on facebook!)

Oh, and another thing is the parents/employers. You can't mention anything about crashing or falling off your bike as you will have them all worried. I once made the mistake of mentioning that I fell off my bike on my way to work on facebook, and a colleague who had seen the post spread the word straight away. By the time I arrived at work I had all the staff ringing asking if I was alright, and my worried boss suggesting I stick to public transportation! Thankfully my mum hasn't yet caught on to social networking. I guess I need to think carefully about who I befriend on facebook!

.............the way of doing this without Facebook preying on our minds! I think I'll just stick to blogger!

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