People who use it, and some who don’t, have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I’m one of the love/hate users.

About a million years ago when I first logged onto Facebook, it was a plain and uninteresting online platform, nothing like MySpace or my own website. Those other two things were highly customizable and individual. They were also anonymous if the owner decided to remain anonymous. I’ve gone back and forth into online anonymity with virtually no reason at all for choosing either side.

Facebook was different, “requiring” the user to be who they really were, unless the user was wiser (than I) and went full-on incognito from the beginning. Because of the feeling of exposure, I kept my Facebook account but went months without touching it.

For many years I’d followed an enlightened web ‘guru’ who had a hand in how Facebook was presented and displayed – the design, not necessarily the function – so I skipped a few beats and finally made up my mind to start friending people and find out what FB had to offer.

I remember that first full night in the summer of 2009, less dabbling and more engagement, sitting at my monitor reading a few FB friends’ posts, when I landed on a link to “One & Other” which was “A public-access talent show with a twist. This weekend 615 people … have discovered they are among those who have been selected by computer to take their place for one hour as a ‘living monument’ on the empty fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square.” (Vanessa Thorpe)
‘Hadn’t heard of the event before I saw the link but was mesmerized by the concept and the “Plinthers”, the artists who participated.

For hours that night and several days thereafter I watched as each plinther was placed on the fourth Plinth to do what they came to do.

I had been to London in the mid 90s and fell in love with Trafalgar Square where I hung out while waiting to find more places to explore. It was one of my favorite sites in London and, 15 years later and an ocean away, I sat in the wee dark hours of the night, watching from home the lucky few who’d been chosen to make history.

It was 2009 and my first introduction into how Facebook would change the world. It opened up a LOT for me, namely the myriad animal rights groups and petitions I discovered, making me a part of the push to abolish animal testing, abuse, torture, and so many other wrongs done by man’kind’ against sentient beings. I became an animal rights activist, a (mostly) vegetarian, and I developed a more compassionate perspective on how the world was evolving. It felt as if I’d become a part of something much bigger than what I knew with my own circles of friends; it helped me grow up a bit knowing what sort of evils lurk just under the candy coating of life.

I still have the hate side of the love/hate working, but I appreciate that Facebook wasn’t always the deliverer of the now-popular memes and incessant political rants it has become.

By the way, if you’re interested in other public art events in the UK, check out artichoke.


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