Backpacking was my thing for approximately four days. I quickly realised that I can’t deal with dorm rooms, while the twin horrors of camping and struggling to lie down inside a sweaty campervan give me the shivers.
Those four days were clearly before the dawn of Facebook. When I was lumbering round, secretly despising those interminable group photo sessions and thinking that most of the people I met in the hostels were wankers, it didn’t come into the equation.
At the end of a group tour, the done thing was to exchange e-mail addresses so everyone could stay in touch and the worst offender for insisting on group photos could send some pictures of those joy-filled times to everyone as if it was a tremendous favour.
Of course, I’d never e-mail anyone unless it was someone I really got on with and genuinely wanted to remain in touch with. That arrangement was just fine; we’d all go back to our own lives and merrily forget about each other.
Recent experiences, however, have taught me that people don’t exchange e-mail addresses any more. They add each other as friends on Facebook. And I don’t like this one little bit.
I keep Facebook for people I genuinely know and like. It’s different from Twitter – the whole world can’t see what I’m saying on Facebook, and the conversations are very different. I’ve already culled lots of people from school who I didn’t really like, and I repeatedly turn down the friendship requests from people at school who I definitely didn’t like. One has tried eight times now, and still doesn’t seem to get the message.
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BOOK YOUR OWN ADVENTUREThe following sites are usually my first port of call when booking a trip - so I recommend them as somewhere to start when booking your own holiday.
HOTELS: Hotels.com (£) or Agoda (£)
FLIGHTS: Skyscanner (£) Kayak or Roundtheworldflights.com
CAR HIRE: Car Rentals (£)
GUIDE BOOKS: Amazon (£)
TOURS AND ACTIVITIES: Viator (£)
Someone who sat behind a couple of rows behind me on a bus for two days is not my friend. I don’t want to add them on Facebook. I might be happy enough to share an email address that will never be used, but I don’t want them knowing what’s going on in my everyday life.
People who indiscriminately add everyone they meet as a Facebook friend must end up with a cast of thousands, none of whom are actual friends. What is the point in this?
In, however, I came across a new phenomenon. The chap who ran a travel agency ended up being my tour guide for the day. At the end, he was insistent that we become friends on Facebook. He asked what my Facebook ID was. I lied and said I didn’t know. He asked my name so he could search for me and add me. I gave him the wrong spelling.
As far as I was concerned, our transaction ended as soon as I was dropped off at the hotel. I thought he was a nice guy and enjoyed the tour, but if I really wanted to get in touch with him, I could get his email address from his website. There was nothing good to be gained from him having my contact details, and certainly no benefit to allowing him to see my conversations with people I genuinely want to stay in touch with.
The joy of Twitter is that it is not reciprocal. It is as much a broadcast medium as a conversational medium, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You don’t have to agree to follow each other, and it wouldn’t be desirable if that was the case. Beyond a certain number of people (I try to keep the number I follow under 500 for manageability’s sake), it becomes impossible to keep up with anything or maintain meaningful conversations.
Reciprocity is the big thing with Facebook. And those backpackers checking in continuously all over the world must have their news feeds filled with such a stream of irrelevant dross that the service is nigh on useless. So, sorry, random person I’ve just met and I’m largely indifferent to – I’m not going to add you.
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