No place for old women: a sub’s social media lament

Trying to revive an old Facebook account is like trying to raise the dead. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Trying to revive an old Facebook account is like trying to raise the dead. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Published Jan 7, 2024


Durban — Facebook, bruh. It’s no place for old women.

The natural reluctance that comes with being a behind-the-scenes sub-editor and disliking being “out there” made me a late starter in this new world.

A colleague convinced me to have a Twitter account and it became a useful tool.

Back then, the blue bird could be harnessed as a proper source of news.

It took time, effort and lots of double-checking, but you could build a base of trusted organisations with a wide range of views.

You could have a handle on almost all the news you needed to make informed choices or opinions. The blue ticks were earned – and not bought or pushed by a rogue, right-wing conspiracy-fraught owner.

There was at least an attempt by the tech giants to moderate feeds to limit hateful speech, abuse and pornography, to tame the trolls and stalkers and insurrectionists.

It was quick to scroll through and you didn’t have to spend hours online when you could be reading a good book.

I became a lurker, one who reads but seldom posts anything.

Facebook was entirely too personal and “busy”.

I knew where my real-life friends and family were and how to contact them if I needed to, and they knew where to find me.

I had set up an account, largely unused because I preferred the swiftness and immediacy of Twitter. I was coerced to log back on by my sister, Jan, to share the pictures we were taking while on one of our little adventures in the mountains.

She spent ages trying to get me back on to that account, but of course, the log-in details were long forgotten.

She set up a new one for me and taught me the basics. It was fun for a while, until it became invasive and toxic, and was abandoned many years ago.

Now, however, it is the go-to spot for groups or organisations that establish collections of memories or details about interesting things, like old Durban and school histories – especially useful if you are researching something.

It was thus that I tried to get back on this week. It didn’t last long. Having been absent for many years, I had no clue about the details of that old account.

Re-signing on included several SMSed codes, an encrypted selfie, e-mail alerts and Captcha routines.

As an aside: does anyone else find some of those pictures incredibly difficult to identify? It could or couldn’t be one of whatever it is you’re asked to click on to prove you’re not a robot.

There’s no such thing as “there are no incorrect answers”.

I get on, am welcomed, asked for the above-mentioned profile pic to be encrypted and stored (that sent shivers down my broken spine) and visit the page I discovered with the help of my old friend Google.

About 30 minutes later, I am booted off for some reason and told I can appeal.

But it will take at least a day to review and if whatever unknown rule I broke is found to be “real”, forget FB.

Online data security is vital: I get it.

But hackers – obviously way smarter than me – get into accounts every minute; how can’t I even get on what (I think) is my own account?

It’s way beyond me, so now FB is a bust and X is a ruin.

Must be the universe’s way of telling me to go and read a book.

Independent on Saturday