Good-bye Facebook, You Soul-sucking Monster, You…and Some Other Stuff, In English No Less

Way way back in the dawn of the age of social networks (It must have been 2003) I received an E-mail from a friend who was attending Smith College at the time.  “You have to check out Facebook, it’s much better than MySpace.”  Yeah, yeah, I had a MySpace.  Anyway, I decided to follow her advice and take a look.  Back then, you actually had to have a valid COLLEGE E-mail address in order to sign up for an account.  A shame it didn’t stay that way, but I digress.  I looked it over a bit, thought it was not quite as gaudy as MySpace, and eventually signed up for an account.  I think it may have been the lack of initial luster that kept me away while I continued to update my MySpace page.  I mean, come on, I had a theme song that played anytime someone went to my page!  The years past and I basically forgot all about “The Facebook.”  Over time, I started hearing more and more about Facebook.  All the kids at work had Facebook, and soon everyone was signing up for an account.  The restrictions were lifted, and soon, anyone was eligible for an account.  My sister, who lived in North Carolina at the time, used Facebook as a means of communicating with both her friends and family, and since it was the only way I could have direct contact with her, I went back and discovered my humble account with about 4 friends was still in existence, laying dormant, waiting for me to come back.  Soon, like the rest of the world, I found myself spending time on the Facebook home page more than on any other site.  I added and dropped friends and soon found myself tangled up in the same Facebook drama that seemed to attach itself to every other user.  The gossip that was spread around Facebook was far faster than any I had experienced in the past, and I soon found that Facebook was just as good at making enemies as it was at making friends.  I decided, after trying to be like all the other social networking drones, that I would simply allow only people I actually knew to be a part of my network, which limited me to about 30 real friends.  While those around me added friends by the hundreds, I stuck to my guns and only added those I thought I might actually communicate with.  In the meantime, my sister moved her family back to Connecticut, so my initial reason for even using the site had gone away.  I had been considering simply deactivating the account for some time.  I grew frustrated not only that it seemed to be taking over our lives (not just mine, but society in general) but that it was distracting me from doing the things I actually preferred to be doing (reading, writing, etc.).  While I admired what facebook was, what it had become, and the genius that was behind the whole thing, it was becoming too much of a force for me to deal with.

I was teetering on my decision, when my decision was made for me.  This afternoon, I read an article saying that within the next week, all Facebook profiles would take on that horrendous Timeline feature, making the home page look more like a disjointed road map than a profile page.  That sealed it for me.  I don’t have any kind of Facebook history anyway, so now, with my measly 30 friends and no photographs (ok, I think I have like 6 photos) I was going to be stuck an ugly page of empty branches dating back to 1981.  No thank you.  I found my way to the profile editor and clicked on the deactivate account button.  Of course, in Facebook jargon, this simply means that all my stuff is still there, floating about in cyberspace, potentially waiting for me to reactivate it somewhere down the line.  In the meantime, I suppose I will have to find some other way to occupy my time by, I don’t know, maybe doing something with my free time.

I had planned on writing something today anyway, but Facebook was not the initial theme of my ranting.  I wanted to go off on how today almost became the first day since Jan. 3rd that I was in a pissy mood more than a good mood (earning a red X on my calendar versus the green ones), but luckily, things have swung in my favor.  There was some early morning drama at work that eventually unfolded in my favor.  While I have not always come out as the winner in my life, when it comes to my job, I usually tend to come out on top.  Surprisingly enough, being an honest person has paid off for me.  When people have nothing better to do than try to slander my good name, it’s nice to know that telling the truth and being straight with people works to my advantage.

There have been some minor failings throughout the overall stages of my attempts to be a better, more knowledgeable person this year, but overall, I have stayed on course and I am continuing to develop my methods in regards to speaking more languages.  I bet if you read enough of the things I wrote here or in my other blogs, you would think I was some sort of multi-lingual nut who could greet you in 7 different languages.  Ok, unfortunately, that’s not me (Hello, Hola, Ciao, Bonjour…..ok, 4).  Obviously, I speak English and I read and write Spanish fairly well, although I still struggle in “free-style conversation.”  I made that term up.  Do you like it?  That is to say, I can certainly talk to others in Spanish about almost any topic, but I might get tripped up on verb tenses, or I may just freeze up after the initial part of a sentence.  To be fair, once I am in a rhythm, it is much easier to keep it going, but I haven’t had a lot of opportunities lately.  I can read a small amount of Italian and if you give me a chance, I can write the basics of what I am thinking.  I could probably have a 5 minute conversation withh someone, but I wouldn’t get much past the basics of who I am.  As far as French, well, I know a few words, but I would hesitate to say I can even speak in a full sentence yet.  Ok, so why am I going on about this?  Well, because once again I am working on developing better methods to learn and practice.  The other day I discovered that I seem to have more success when I study in short, focused bursts of about 10-15 minutes.  Instead of trying to force myself to sit for an hour or two, which I had been doing, I study some flashcards and do a few exercises in one of the books I have and it seems to stick better than when I sit and force myself to study.  That being said, I had an idea last night that totally goes against what I just said.

Most people feel (and I tend to agree) that the only way to fully become fluent in a language, you have to immerse yourself in that language.  Now, unfortunately, I can not simply stop speaking English throughout the course of my day, especially when I am at work, as I doubt the customers would appreciate my attempts to be bilingual while taking their order.  I try to spend as much time as I can listening to and speaking in Spanish when I am at home, but sometimes my brain wants a rest.  Also, it’s hard to practice Italian or French when listening to Spanish music.

So what am I going to do?  Well, while it is still an experimental idea, I am going to try to pick days (days when I am not working) to spend as much of, if not the entire day in either Spanish, Italian, or French.  I plan on trying to spend this Thursday on Spanish, as this is my strongest language.  If all goes well, Saturday will be Italian, and then either Monday or Thursday will be French.  If I do well with Spanish, I will know what to expect for Italian, and so forth.  While I think Spanish will be fun, it is going to be difficult to force myself to think in Italian and certainly in French for an entire day.  I am going to make sure I have either a translator or a dictionary at my disposal throughout the day and I am going to write down as many phrases I feel I need to know that I use throughout the day.  The idea is to have in the back of my mind the knowledge that no matter how hard I may think it is, it is just for that day and once I get through the day, I can take a break.  I have a feeling that by forcing myself to use these languages instead of backing off when it gets too hard I will be able to retain more information and I will get a better idea of what kind of phrases I need to know versus what I just happen to pick up along the way.  I think it’s also probably a good idea not to do the days back to back, as that might confuse things too much.  I plan on using those short bursts of studying to reinforce the thngs I learn on those long days.  I don’t have specific studying tools in mind, as I have so much stuff laying around my apartment, but I think between now and Thursday I am going to try to sort some things out just so I have a basic idea of how I would like to proceed.  I know I tend to go on and on about how I plan to learn, only to come back time and time again with changed or revised plans.  I’m hoping that with each revision it signifies an improvement, not a failure in my attempts to learn.  In any case, I’m off for now.  I will be back soon to update you on my progress.  Adios.

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~ by James on January 24, 2012.

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