An outbreak of schaden-facebook-freude

SCHADENFREUDE is a good place to start, but we need a new social media coining, schaden-facebook-freude perhaps.

The original word means finding pleasure in the misfortune of others, or ‘harm’ and ‘joy’ creamed together as the sour sauce in a German sandwich. Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable offers the translation “a malicious delight in the bad luck of others”.

Playful malice was much in evidence yesterday when Facebook crashed for the second time in a week. Twitter was awash with jokes at its mightier cousin’s expense, with outbursts of self-mockery too, as people complained that they would now actually have to talk to their partner. Or they would go to bed without knowing what their friends had for tea. Or whether they’d gone for a jog. The streets would be filled with people carrying photographs as they sought approval, maniacally asking for those they passed in the street to ‘like’ what they’ve been up to.

Some of the Twitter quips were quite funny. “Twitter,” someone tweeted, “has agreed to take in 30,000 Facebook refugees.”

The site crashed for 40 minutes, following a similar disappearance last Thursday, and Facebook shares fell by nearly four per cent.

Once all this would have passed me by, but now I am one of the nearly 1.5 billion people worldwide who use Facebook. I’ve been on it, or whatever it is that you do with Facebook, for a while but only started visiting every day after being made redundant.

Facebook has been both a comfort and a mild nuisance to me on this ledge. The comfort comes with the support of other people, including rediscovered old friends; and the nuisance lies in the twitchy obligation to keep having a look, the needy urge to stay in touch.

Yet without Facebook, no one much would read this blog. Despite my longer term loyalty to Twitter, my blog statistics show that Facebook is the most common link to these ramblings. So all power to Facebook, until someone invents a better way to fritter time. On second thoughts, please keep that invention to yourself.

The sense of connectedness does help when you are sitting at home alone batting out words – helps and distracts, too. Yet the links of modern life can be a bind. We spent the last week in Devon and then Bristol. My laptop ledge came with me and I carried on as normal, tapping away early in the morning before anyone else was up.

That’s the sort of thing I do for fun, or one of them, so I was happy with that. Less joyful was the need to check everything I normally check, Facebook, Twitter, the statistics for my blog and my two email accounts. The emails were irksome, one or two especially. I kept checking for a reply to one email to do with freelance work, and there was no reply at all. This left me irritated when I should have been happily unaware of the failure to respond.

On the plus side, I did receive an email about an application form that hadn’t been filled in properly, and was able to sort the minor mistake as the toast browned.

In the past I have departed without a thought for home or work. This was the first holiday where I took the cares with me, and it’s not as relaxing as casting off completely.

A while back now, I went on a press trip to Bordeaux for the wine festival. Lots of food, plenty of good wine, an outing or too – and not a care in the world for three or four wine-soaked days. That was me anyway. One of my companions was the deputy editor of the Scottish Sun. He was on his mobile the whole time, trying to sort out problems on the paper. And he left a day early. Sometimes not knowing is the way to go.

We had a good break, but being in touch made for a different sort of holiday. Maybe next time I’ll sever the links and leave the laptop at home. Along with all those likes.

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