I am not a fan of Facebook. I resisted setting up an account for a long time, despite the number of email invites that kept popping up in my inbox. However, I eventually caved in, and then wondered why I had. I sent a Facebook message to Kenny D asking him what it was all about. He didn’t seem to know either. I then spent the next few months becoming people’s friends, until I had amassed, ooh, about 14 friends in all. But having plenty of other ways to waste time of an evening, I never found myself actually logged on to the site unless I had a ‘friend request waiting’ or some such. Whenever I did so, I would discover that several of my friends had headbutted me, sent me a drink, or turned into pirates.

I realise that this is all going to sound a little priggish, but frankly I couldn’t be bothered with it all. I can understand why people with a lot of spare time on their hands (and a lot more friends than me) might find it entertaining and even possibly useful. It is, no doubt, a great way to keep up with old friends. Provided that your old friends are in fact, not really that old, and understand the concept of social networking websites.

But something old-fashioned in me somehow prefers finding out how people are face to face, or at least via email, rather than checking to see if they’ve updated their status. Email looks positively personal and intimate beside Facebook. And how honest can you really be, given that (depending on your privacy settings, no doubt) any Tom, Dick or Tara in the world can read your thoughts, and view your photos? This, of course, is also a weakness of blogs.

I eventually got fed up, not to say a little worried at the prospect of identity fraud. It’s one thing the government donating your private details to criminals in a user-friendly easy-to-read CD format, but it’s an even more astonishingly stupid thing to publish your own details online for the world to see.

So I decided to extinguish the flickering flame that was my presence on Facebook, and attempted to delete my account. The faceless Facebook hierarchy were not amused at this, and demanded that I explain myself by checking the appropriate box beside one of a list of ‘reasons for leaving’ that they’d prepared earlier. I tried ‘Worried about security’ whereupon a smug and authoritative message popped up, explaining that I could change my privacy settings if I was really worried about it. Slightly taken aback, I selected ‘Don’t find it useful’ to find another message appearing, pointing out how I might find Facebook more useful if I had made a bit of an effort.

Eventually they let me go, with the slightly disturbing parting shot – “You can reactivate your account any time you like by logging in again with your username and password.”

Excuse me? If my existing username and password still get me in to the system, how deleted exactly is my account? It seems that Facebook is a little like Hotel California… You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave…

Skiing and Car Engines

Went indoor skiing at xscape with Filipideedooda again last week. It’s now only six weeks or so before the next epic ski trip takes place, this time to Val d’Isère, so we thought some practice would come in handy.

We stood at the top of the slope, planning our route down. Friday night is freestyle night, so there were a number of jumps and rails on the slope.

“I think I’m going to go over the fence this time,” said F.

“What fence?”

“That one with the black netting.”

“That’s not a fence, F, that’s black netting blocking off the jump to stop people going over it. Presumably for a reason.”

Filipideedooda, being a ‘kickass boarder’ by nature, and therefore accustomed to flicking V-signs at authority, decided to jump over the “fence”. She flew off the half-formed jump, over the black netting, which was sagging somewhat, and landed in a heap. I skied over to her and helpfully pointed out that there may have been a reason why it was blocked off.

Skiing in France with F will be fun, there’s no doubt.

“Oooh, can we go and ski over there? It looks fun.”

“What, over there in the area marked off with yellow-and-black striped warning tape?”

She went straight back up and tried “the fence” again. And wiped out again. And again, with the same result. I gave up reasoning.

We moved on to a ‘park bench’ where F came off, lost a ski and proceeded to take out the next 3 boarders attempting the bench while trying to retrieve her ski. It was all very amusing. I should give credit where credit’s due, however. At least she was adventurous.

Wiseman, after missing last year’s ski trip with an unmentionable injury, is looking forward to this year’s adventure very much. Phrases like “carving up the slopes” and “becoming one with the mountain” are being bandied about with alarmingly bullish self-confidence. Having discovered that he has elected to join the Forces of Snowboarding Darkness, Mental Morag has queried whether or not he has invested in some sort of padded arrangement for his butt, in case he becomes one with the mountain rather more often than he had anticipated.

A more recent development has been a sudden re-interest in learning to drive. This might be down to me giving him a voucher for two free driving lessons for Christmas. Except that was in 2005. Rather than take up the lessons, Wiseman has waited two years, and then begun devouring books on the subject. In the space of only a couple of days he has become an ‘expert’. In fact, one could say that he has ‘become one’ with all motor vehicles. All of a sudden, failures to indicate appropriately, and other minor driving irregularities, are being loudly pointed out to me as I drive him around. It came to head last night when he insisted on inspecting under the bonnet of my car and wanted me to point out to him where the coolant and oil get topped up. We had just spent an evening in the company of our charming Donegal housemates, eating good food and playing Articulate. For the record, and in the interests of objective reporting (for which I am renowned), the boys got hockeyed. Not being the best loser, I was in no mood to stand around pointing at car engines in the freezing cold, but we located the relevant items and then I took him home, where I believe he was planning to read up on some more road signs.

Perhaps on snowboarding as well. Let’s hope the book has a chapter entitled “Why you should never go skiing with Filipideedooda.”