communication(1)… Every word like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness . Samual Beckett.  Beckett could well have been foreseeing Facebook because many would say that this quote describes Facebook to a tee . There are cynics of Facebook, and I am one sometimes, who believe that Facebook is nothing more than inane drivel. Often it is but it is also hellish fun and it has done something that we cant do fully  in real life. It has bridged the gap between  hearing people and deaf people.

I guess this is truer for those deaf who have a good grasp of the English language and who can use text easily. Nevertheless hearing and deaf, through Facebook, communicate and interact as if their are no communication barriers. There is no broken sign language or exaggerated lip movements. No please repeat that, no pretending you have got the joke and laughing along so as to not look like a miserable bastard .. it’s just people interacting, sharing loving and laughing together at will.

The truth is that Facebook mirrors real life. Those people  who say, me included, that Facebook is inane drivel need to look back at their last face to face conversation. They would be hard pressed to remember what it was. Mine was talking about the relative merits of Carlton Cole and Zavron Hines with my son. This is serious stuff. One is a six foot three centre forward with pace and strength to burn, the other is a short  zippy right half with an eye for goal. They balance the team wonderfully. Important stuff this!!!

Meanwhile on Facebook my wife has announced she has hurt her finger at netball. This is, of course, something we all really needed to know.  We just could not survive not knowing. Somehow the announcement has sent people off on tangents. Brendan has started talking Arabic, my wife has replied in French, Colleen has shared that she didn’t like her French teacher while I have responded to Brendan that he is trying to get Colleen in the sack. Inane drivel, funny drivel .. pointless .. but no more pointless than my discussion with my son on the relative merits of two West Ham players.

On Facebook I can meet virtually anyone who has a good grasp of English and start communicating with them at will. I can do this through the chat feature or I can play on the status updates. I can share wit and wisdom at will. Hearing friends who know how will sometimes caption the videos they put up so that I miss out on nothing.  It’s almost a perfect virtual world. Almost because I can not share in the audio and the music but no matter,  I can interact fluently anytime.

I can’t do this in my real world. I can’t walk into a pub and start a conversation with someone at the bar. Well I can, but chances are it will be stilted. Chances are that the conversation will stop and start. If I meet someone I would hope to hell that there wasn’t anyone with them so that I could just focus on that one person instead of trying to follow a conversation with multiple participants.

We deafies from hearing families all dread the family reunions. Where everyone is laughing and joking and we have to hope that someone will cue us into the joke. Where auntie Martha with her moustache that  makes her impossible to lipread insists on being the only person that will talk to you. We indulge the family, do our bit and go home. Usually exhausted at the trials of trying to be part of the group.

But on Facebook I meet people and have virtual dinner parties. We link up on Yahoo messenger and  all chat and joke at will. No one is left out. We post pictures of our food. Share videos  and photos. We have little asides with individual members of the group . We share, laugh and sometimes cry. It takes us away from the constant struggle to be included and lets us experience something that is often not possible in the real world. All praise Facebook – for all its faults it means that for the deaf the virtual is often better than the real reality!!


32 thoughts on “FACEBOOKERS

  1. Facebook is real life, only if your planet is Neptune… Crap breeds crap that is the reality of it, people adopt the sheeple effect and copy each other (Well, those without a brain do), so one stupid becomes a million. Most educated critics surmise FB is a danger to reality and to relationship awareness, NO you don’t get the same thing from a bunch of words printed on a page as you would meeting that person face to face. Equality ? I don’t believe it ! It is only equality if the deaf are conversant with English text, and IF, the deaf want to converse in that medium. Twitter and Facebutt are a blight on the planet basically, but then I voted against the mobile phone so….

    I contribute to no social site there is, I prefer real people frankly, and, facebook will NOT tell you the other person has BO will it 🙂 I think it promotes the opposite of bringing people together, I think it breeds isolation in most of them who are unable to carry on real relationships with real people in real time, can you be a friend with a bunch of written text,and, is that person really like or who they say they are ? Deaf people carry on their ‘community’ via personal interaction it is vital, now they are being encouraged to form text relationships instead ?

    It will end up with people getting engaged, married and them divorced by text, I have an horror image their kids will speak in text bubbles…. and mobile phones growing out of their arse….

  2. That’s the problem MM. You THINK, but you don’t use Facebook.

    But tell me, why do you bother commenting on blogs, forums, and email groups. Don’t you want to talk to REAL people rather than interact with text on a website? You can’t smell anyone’s BO here now can you?

    Everything you say about Facebook, can be applied to this blog, and anything online. So, why do you get innvolved then?

  3. Just agreeing with you Gazza, you think it inane drivel most of the time, I think it inane drivel ALL the time, it’s only degree… I arther suss you are pluggingit not condemning it. I won’t particiapte in this anti-social drivel. I go online, but not to be social.

  4. Facebook is not anti-social MM… I have met made met some new friends through Facebook, that carries over into the real world. I have kept in touch with people I know in the real world, through Facebook. And a few other things. Much cheaper than the minicom/ TTY/ telephone.

    Facebook is just another way of communicating.

    And whether you admit it or not, the fact that you are RESPONDING to blog posts such as this one, means you are being social MM.

    Look at it this way, is someone being anti social because they use the telephone to keep in touch with people instead of going out and meeting them?

  5. You know he is right dont you MM. We can release and enjoy in different ways. Movies, sport and reading drivel like twilight. It does no harm if, like most things, it is used in moderation. I agree there are probably people that use FB because they have social issues with meeting people and confronting people. It’s much easier behind the cover of FB. Is that necesssarily a bad thing? Whats the alternative for them? Home alone communicating with noone? Perhaps it might actually help build their confidence! Who knows .. All I know is that it is not all bad and you are right it is also not all good.

  6. Interesting read and article. I vividly recall when mobile phones (digital not analogue) was fast emerging around 1999 at the time when interoperability (ability to sent text to another mobile phone regardless of the telco provider you are with) was yet to be resolved. (Did you know that it was the deaf Australians who lobbied with telcos to ensure interoperability was possible thereby openning up to new possibilities and also raking in millions of dollars for the telcos pure from charging sms calls (but do we see some of those profit come back to the community??? Thats another debate for later).

    Anywa, when sms was the ‘hype’ of its time, Facebook let alone social networking was not around (community message boards yes but that s a little different and less personalised).

    During that time Deaf people were averaging around 300-600 sms a month. Hearing people was about 1/3 to 2/3 of that usage rate. Still it was a way to ‘connect’ and socialised. However after a few years people were getting tired of the texting and cost issue (did you know that the REAL cost for telcos to send one sms is .001 cent yet they charge 22 cents per sms within 164 characters. But that is another debate to discuss later) 🙂

    Now FaceBook, MySpace and a few other have emerged and this opens up a new ‘community’ and new information source. Years ago information came solely by letter and radio, then TV, then internet. Now with mobile convergence we will soon have everything on our mobile phone.

    I agree with Tony, FB has opened doors, reconnect people from the past (scary at times) and be informed of matters that would not make it on the Herald Sun newspaper website. Small achivements, success, news, links to as much as lobbying for captioned DVD/Movies etc have enabled people to utiise the likes of FB to a more powerful tool.

    Yes, I agree it can be full of drivel at times (if we let it) and comes part and parcel with this evolving social platform. I have noticed smart FB users know when you send out information/status and get good responses back. My only beef with FB is the annoying quiz results that clutters the page you are viewing. Do we really need to know what you sex drive is? Which animal you relate to? What sex positions the survey THINKS you are best at?

    I most not forget those who are isolated in communities as result of matters that they have no control over. Especially those in remote/rural areas.

    FB and MySpace will continue to be around but will evolve and Im sure there will be a few more social networking sites that will build up from what FB has created.

    Lastly, MM, welcome to ‘My Rebuttal-Space’. Your social networking site that allows Deaf / hard of hearing to raise and share issues of concerns and respond to articles that are often close to their hearts. 🙂

  7. This is not a social network, it’s a blog that’s all. Try reading the link I gave Gazza, and understand how these things are set up in the first place, then get the hell out before it’s too late.

  8. The fact that u r talking and responding to people on this blog, is a social interaction. And a blog, by virtue of it’s comments system, AND regular readers and commentators, is a social network of sorts.

    Sorry to disappoint you MM.

  9. FaceBook sucks from day one!

    They won’t be there forever! Just like the old golden days of Napster.

    • But Tim you are talking techical things .. as a platform it sucks as a social medium its very powerful.


  10. Then again so do telephones, minicoms, pen and paper, hell even computers. They all detract us from talking to people face to face.

    What about my friends in far away places/ Well, I will just have to stand on the shore and shout louder or sign bigger.

  11. This is correct 🙂

    But the Facebook is still SUCKS. I was “forced” to use it for the sake of the Deaf community in Australia.

    Hopefully, the Facebook site will be shutting down in the future due to unexpected reasons 😛


  12. But why no comment to support your thesis? You are ready to offer criticisms as to why Facebook is no good?

  13. he is a computer boffin Tone. He knows its a crappy platform which is why he dont like it … simple as!

  14. Gazza. The issue is simple enough, we BOTH agree facebutt is a pain in the nether regions the reason is THIS site and the way it does ‘operate’ is NOT social, you are trying in to raise issues. Facebutt is not as you said a viable platform to do that, it probably could be, but it is pointless at this moment in time, to try to wade through the total mountaion of utter bllx they talk.

    No I don’t care who is ‘in’ or ‘out’ of fashion, or if some plastic tittied bimbo wants to flaunt herself in some obscure Austrailan jungle clearing, there are more important things to debate in the deaf areas. Neither do I want to know what train they caught this morning, what recipe is their favourite either.

    The potential of facebutt may exist, but there is zilch sign anyone is going to use it that way… it’s a boon for commerce to sell them even more junk to go with the total crap they waste their time talking about. If deaf.read folded I would probably go offline because there would be no point to me otherwise. I don’t want to socialise by text.

    It’s mind-boggling 10% of the online planet is twittering bllx away all day… I’m well out of it thanks. It’s perfectly possible to reafuse to partiuciapte in social networks, I can only think the people that take part have nothing better to do, sad really. I refute facebook is an advance, its probably down to the abuse it gets from its ab/users…

  15. Gazza, then Tim should say so.

    MM, how do u know Facebook is total crap? I am using it as I write, and finding a very good communication platform! Gary, even let’s me know of his plans via Facebook!

    Parties have been organised through Facebook, I know I been to some…I met a friend in person last Saturday, who I met on Facebook.

    The potential of Facebook is being utilised by many people every day!

    DeafRead and Facebook are two very different platforms. DeafRead is an aggregator, not a forum, and if it disappeared, would you go offline? I doubt it. You will find email groups, other people’s blogs, and forums to haunt!

  16. We have deviated from the original argument a bit.

    Facebook is a useful tool for social online communication. Just one of many we can use.

    It provides some deaf people an opportunity to interact with the wider community. I am limited with verbal communication because I cannot hear everything. Facebook gives me an opportunity to engage in the drivel and meaningful language that happens everyday.

    I have had the opportunity to make friends and have my mind stretched by some wonderful people. In fact, through those contacts, I have felt more whole as a person intellectually and no, it is not always through status updates. It is through private chat often. It is a tool, an avenue, and allows me to meet other people who I would not have met because my deafness DOES handicap my social and language situations no matter how well I speak and lipread.

    So leave it alone. Be glad we have options. Be glad that we have sites and ways to fulfill all parts of our being. It will be appropriate for some, and for others it will not be. For me who was starved of social contact as a young kid, this is manna from heaven. Eventually I may get over it, or maybe I won’t because I cherish feeling part of the loop for a change.

  17. and the last gazza comment was my dear wife not me .. she took a break from facebook and whatever other electronic communication she was accessing at the time to post it 🙂

  18. One of your commentators suggested the video was NOT captioned, it is. Make yer mind up Gazza “There are cynics of Facebook, and I am one sometimes, who believe that Facebook is nothing more than inane drivel. Often it is…” I think you do not understand what socialising is, it is direct inter-action with other people, in my view this means face to face, not text to text, you are opting OUT of communication issues not addressing them ? I’m deaf as a doorstop too, I do not see how my communication will improve on the street, which is the only place that matters, if I sit on my arse texting on facebutt to someone 23,000 miles away……

  19. Well excuse me MM, I replayed the video, and guess what. It still isn’t captioned. Can’t get it to work. Anyway, if you prefer face to face communication, then why are you having a conversation, via text, with Gary?

    I am seeing him today [26/11/09], and we arranged all this via Facebook!

  20. FFS you two get a room .. or at least scratch each others eyes out in relative quiet :-D. MM you missed the point. I said FB was inane drivel and pointed out that often real life communication .. Face to face as you say .. was often the same. You miss the greater social comment of the article which probably is less about FB and more about the social limitations involved with being deaf. That is not to say I sit in a darkroom doing FB all day although there probably peope that do. FB does allow me to meet new people .. Hell I have a free bed in different countries in several places all over the world because of FB 🙂 … It lets me reaquaint with old friends, arrange catch ups for face to face communication … hell I even have been teaching one friend to sign through the video application. It enhances and creates social opportunities and leads to more face to face communication not less in many cases. It depends on how you use it. You have pigeon holed it as all bad .. My view is that all it does is mirror real life .. Its all good nor is it all bad.

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