As I might have mentioned previously, I have been suckered in Facebook. It swept (is still sweeping?) through the University of Stellenbosch like a wild fire. For some reason it just appeals to people. Of course there has been some debate about its pros and cons. I now distinguish between “friends” and “Facebook friends”, but to me it is not such a big deal. I don’t think anyone takes it very seriously. Some people might spend way more time on Facebook than others, but still don’t take it as seriously as real-life. Maybe the sheer amount of time some people spend on there is what the real concern is. I’m not sure. There has been some debate as to what Facebook is doing to our perceptions of a “friend”, but, at the very least, I think it is good to know that people whom you haven’t seen in ages still remember you and will still risk association with you. “Friendship” might be too strong a word to describe your relationship with these people, but at least there was a friendship once (well, sometimes, at least) and I think people want to cling to that idea and the good associations that might come from that.
So I find myself taking part in Facebook activities: writing on walls, making bulletin board posts, sending private messages (even though private messages simply are glorified round-about e-mails, but for some inexplicable reason they are much more effective than e-mails) and poking people (Tania, daar is ‘n verskil tussen ‘n “poke” en ‘n “nudge” en ek glo nie die e.g. is ‘n Americanism per se nie). Typing up some longish message one day made me wonder why I was doing so much there while this poor website is falling to piece. I would like to categorically state that, long after Facebook has passed into obscurity, I still plan to continue with this website. This website gives a much deeper insight into who I am than my Facebook profile and therefore makes it much more important. I have reoccurring desires to finish the website, which is slightly annoying, because I have been talking about it for nearly a year now. Progress looks good, though, and because this website has become a hobby, there is no real rush.
One thing that has surprised me about Facebook is how much you learn about people by reading just a view compulsory profile items: religious views, relationship status, basic interests etc. Again, you should know these things about your friends, but many times things like “religion” simply doesn’t come up when you talk with friends, even if you’ve know them for some time. Are there things which we do not want to talk about, no matter how fundamental or important, simply because we wish to avoid conflict? That is another, long, topic…
Not having an internet connection at the flat is a mixed blessing. When I need to confer with friends on an assignment or research some topic, it is very annoying not having a net connection. But being “disconnected” (that is not technically true, because I connect to the web through my phone quite a lot during the day) has its own advantages. One of them is that I am not on Facebook at the moment, which gives me some time for another guilt post (I don’t really have the time, but I’m anyway not going to be working on my assignment tonight, so I might as well do something semi-constructive).
Let me start by explaining why I joined Facebook: a girl at Stellenbosch decided to organise our own Assassins game. In order to take part, you had to sign up for Facebook, because all the administration was being done through it. I signed up in the previous quarter and the first game started this quarter. I was really looking forward to it and even bought a super soaker for effect. On the day the game officially started I set about tracking my target for immediate assassination. It was very difficult to find any information about him on-line and I literally only had scraps to go one. I tried tracking him through five departments before seeing him walk down the hall of his actual department. He moved to open a door; I grabbed his arm and squirted him with my “backup” weapon, but in the process he had moved into a computer lab, which was a safe zone. I was now in quite a predicament, because my hard-to-find target now knew what I looked like. There was only one way in and out of the lab, so I decided to wait for him. Super soaker ready, I ended up waiting for two and a half hours in a cold hallway for him to come out. I’m not going to go into the details, but I eventually got him, but I also got thrown out of the department because I was “running and squirting water in the hallway”. Two days later, with only one kill under the belt, I was assassinated. It was fun enough while it lasted, but I realised that I had been taking things a bit too seriously. It is nice to be moving around outside again without being completely paranoid.
Only later did it occur to me that people were a bit more jumpy than usual because of the Virginia Tech massacre (we got assigned our targets on the day of the massacre and the game started two days later). This has sparked an on-going debate as to whether any future games should be approved (and possibly, to an extent, regulated) by the university. My antics in that hallway also apparent prompted the department (faculty?) to consider beefing up security, because it turned out that I was waiting outside the head of the department’s office the whole time. I am going to explain this again for what its worth. I was not unchallenged the whole time: a professor did question me and effectively approved my presence there. I am not a criminal :-/ .
As an “outside observer”, one thing that ticked me off about the news developments about the Virginia Tech massacre was that it immediately re-sparked the gun-control debate. Yes, I think gun-control should be stricter in America (possibly regulated by the federal government?), but not so much as in South Africa. But my point is that, to me, it seems like this tragedy is being used for political purposes. Political opportunists jumped on the news to reinforce their position. This was obviously going to happen, but couldn’t people have waited for a couple of weeks? It seems like some people are arguing about politics while they should be mourning. And the fact remains: if someone wants to commit a massacre, they will do so regardless of the level of gun-control there is.
The rain has started in the Cape. Yesterday was perhaps our first day of near-continual rain with even a bout of hail and thunder to complete the “warm and dry inside”-feeling (yesterday was a public holiday, so I doubt too many people went outside). Autumn is peaking and it seems like people are welcoming the change: not because the summer was necessarily too hot, but simply for the sake of change. One thing is true: it is beautiful outside, even when it seems dull and grey.
Today I had a fantastic brunch which was hosted by a friend who is turning 30 soon. It was a first for me (I couldn’t even attend my own brother’s 30th celebrations), but very pleasant. A wide variety of people (specifically age-wise) attended and observing them was like comparing my peers with what the future inevitably holds. I am not going to comment on this now, but just like a year’s seasons are inevitable, so are peoples’ seasons: you might enjoy where you are now, but there will be change and you will go with it. And quite possibly you will be happy about it and enjoy it.