A frequent question on many metal detecting forums, both home and abroad, is the one asking what has happened to all the members, and why so few post. This is then followed up by comments to the effect that the site is ‘dying.’
The usual response from those who do post is that there’s always a lull at this particular time of the year and that they’ll be back once the digs restart, or something of that nature.
Only last week the administrator on one forum I frequent was contemplating closure because of the lack of activity, but was persuaded to keep it open by the faithful. In some of these discussions I have noticed a lone voice plaintively bleating that the fault lies with the Internet, particularly a social networking site called Facebook. I now know that he is probably right.
I have always resisted calls to join Facebook for it seemed so intrusive and I’m basically a ’private’ person. My only contact was the occasional tirade of abuse between couples on The Jeremy Kyle show, when they repeatedly mentioned the site in their respective arguments. I wasn’t enamoured by the antics of the protagonists, but now something has changed, making me think afresh.
I was never an ‘early adopter’ in anything. I still have flares and kipper ties in my wardrobe that I was wearing long after the fashion had changed. As for one who embraces new technology before others, you can count me out. Instead of curious and adventurous, I am just the opposite! Not exactly a laggard but more a Luddite with a fear of new technology.
I have now joined Facebook. And it’s all down to a woman who cajoled, caressed and, (metaphorically) beat me into submission. I couldn’t resist the charms of Baroness Martha Lane-Fox. Here’s how it happened:
Last week I watched, with keen interest, the Richard Dimbleby 2015 Lecture on BBC television. The lectures, established in memory of broadcaster Richard Dimbleby, have run nearly every year since 1972. They have featured entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and James Dyson, along with a long list of lords and politicians, clergy and academics. This time it was the turn of Baroness Martha Lane Fox.
In the lecture the inspirational lady, co-founder of lastminute.com and a cross bench peer, challenged people to understand the internet more deeply – from leaders and legislators to users – and be both curious and critical in their digital lives. Only then, she argued, will they be able to tackle the most complex challenges facing society.
Well, that was the catalyst for my conversion. You can read the lecture on DOT EVERYONE and, if you are in the UK, see the Baroness deliver her lecture on the BBC iPlayer, available for the next 16 days.
I’ve heard it said that Facebook is the most popular social networking site of all time and has experienced dramatic growth in its eleven year existence … and I’ve just found it! Tentatively I signed up and organised my page … well, made a page. It is far from being sorted and, if the truth be known, I’m not sure what I’m doing, but at least I now have a presence.
I have discovered that all those people I knew years ago from various forums are now on Facebook and that’s perhaps one of the reasons that detecting sites are on the decline. Conventional MD forums don’t allow so much freedom. This seems is a great tool for keeping friendships alive. I can’t say much because of my limited experience and will perhaps leave that for another time. I’m just exploring privacy settings and generally finding my way around.
I joined a metal detecting group somewhat inadvertently … don’t know how I did it! Already I have found that one of the disadvantages is that I open Facebook regularly to stay connected with friends, make comments and so on. This has become my displacement activity … and I have work to do!
Martha Lane-Fox challenged me to understand the internet better, more critically, and make more – much more – of my digital life. She has provided the opportunity to easily communicate with old friends and keep up-to-date one what they’re doing. It’s fun to see their photos … but I don’t think you’ll see many of mine.
UPDATE – TWO YEARS LATER
Well, after two years I don’t profess to know FB any better. All I know is that I am a member of about twelve detecting sites (and growing daily), the majority of which have co-opted me. I could easily be a master of inspirational quotes, a top reviewer of ‘cat and dog doing strange things’ videos. On top of that I have amassed a horde of new ‘friends’, whose names I can’t even pronounce.
I get daily messages about birthdays of people I don’t know, somebody changing the name of their site, yet another picture of a detector leaning on a spade or other unwanted information. I’m not impressed. ‘Why do you stay? I hear you ask. I remain because I sometimes post my blog on there, see old friends … and because I’m nosy.
What you don’t get on Facebook is the sense of ‘family’ presence on a detecting forum, and talking about the hobby with people with whom you have built a relationship. Will the situation ever be the same again?