Has Facebook Turned Into A Modern Almacks?

Has Facebook Turned Into A Modern Almacks?

Hi everyone! So glad you’re here visiting Austen Authors! I am a longtime lover of JAFF primarily because of how my incessant time-travel trips make me reflect on the values and ideas I hold dear in my decidedly modern times. For example, once upon a reading, I sighed and thought:

“Man, how cool would it be to have servants?”

Then the reality of strange people touching me, dressing me, cooking for me . . . and I shudder. I raise an eyebrow at my husband’s cooking; he always adds too much pepper for my tastes! Nope. I’m just hunky-dory with my Mr. Vacuum and Miss Dishwasher and The Washer/Dryer siblings.

The concept of mass media was just becoming a normal staple of everyday life in the early 1800s. Newspapers received news from all over the globe, albeit at the speed of a ship, but still, it was likely just as novel to get that much information as it was the first time I clicked my AOL to sign on and my modem made that god-awful noise! Why? Why did NO ONE come up with a better noise than THAT??!?!?

In many JAFF stories, the society papers are THE source for who was out with whom, who was engaged, married, etc. Gossip, intrigue, and initials galore! It was part soap opera, part cryptic puzzle!

Living in the States, there is a newspaper where I live, but hubby and I do not subscribe. Honestly, it feels wasteful, not money-wise, no, there its a bargain, I just mean in the trash it creates. Even the online edition I must admit I mostly ignore unless there’s school closings. And the society papers/classified ads? Nope. Don’t read those either.

No, I have Facebook.

Facebook tells me who changed their status from single or to single, who had a baby, who went to what concert, movie, or event, and who is getting divorced. Yes, many of my friends are online acquaintances and I have learned about more divorces from a Facebook post than I have from an in-person or phone conversation. And I’ll be honest, when someone has some major stuff going on, I stalk a little. I lurk. I read and don’t always comment.

Like the gossip column of Jane Austen’s time, some unknown force decides who is and who is NOT worth space on my Timeline to fill me in on the latest dirt.

And let’s not forget vaguebooking.

Vaguebooking is when someone posts a juicy status with no details so your imagination runs wild with possibilities. Example, if I wrote “So sad, major life changes happened today, can’t say more. Prayers needed,” people will express empathy and all ask a question to try to rule out their idea. “Oh no, is it Mr. Fluffles? Did the vet visit not go well?” or “Hugs! Call me if you need anyone to talk to (which really means, I’m dying to know the scoop), is everyone ok?” No, it’s not quite as direct as Lady A attended the theatre with Mr. W of C-shire, but it’s fairly close!

This year marked a first for me. I attended a party I was solely invited to attend via Facebook for another child’s birthday. My daughter doesn’t get many invitations to birthday parties because she has quirks (she falls under a special education program here in the States), and social interactions is one area she struggles. I actually didn’t even hear about the party until AFTER the RSVP date (completely the fault of that invisible Almack’s of Facebook that decides who I do and do not get to dance with), and had to private message the mom to apologize. Now, some would find this an utter tragedy that our social manners have degraded to party invitations by Facebook. But I don’t mind. Manners are the respect we give to others and I certainly wasn’t offended to be thought of in our society that moves information faster than nanoseconds. And the party was great!

So yes, perhaps Facebook does behave a little like the gatekeepers of the London Ton in my life. And don’t forget, when you make a new friend on Facebook, it’s polite to pay a call to their Timeline and say “Hello.” The button click was just leaving one’s card. šŸ™‚


13 Responses to Has Facebook Turned Into A Modern Almacks?

  1. No, I don’t think Facebook is Almack’s. Maybe it’s more like some street vendor selling penny-lick ice creams on a corner outside Ranelagh Gardens.

  2. I had an account on FB but deleted everything a few years ago. First of all, there are privacy issues and secondly it just takes up too much time. People uploading YouTube videos and every photograph they have ever taken. I enjoyed some of it but found I had better uses for my time. Now I have to say that my e-mails have gotten out of hand: especially all the JAFF related Blogs. I spent all day yesterday trying to catch up with the over 300 unopened e-mails, most of them from JAFF blogs. I hate to unsubscribe and finally just deleted all that were over 3 months old. I got way behind with traveling in November, not having the use of a computer and then having the holidays hit. I am sorry to offend anyone but that’s my world at present.

  3. I certainly do see the comparison. Like others have said, Facebook is open to all, so in the joining in aspect it isn’t like Almacks. But it certainly is the prime gossip and keep-in-contact medium, and the faceless “powers” behind the scenes wield incredible power. I still love Facebook, more than any other social media site, but it is true that keeping up on what is happening with people, or groups, is tougher with the unfathomable algorithms deciding what to put in your newsfeed. My husband (who has far fewer “friends” than me) is constantly asking if I read so-n-so’s post — people we are close friends with — but I rarely have because for some reason my feed will consist of other people. It makes no sense.

    And “vaguebooking” LOL! Did you make that up? I love it!! Frankly, it really annoys me. I would much rather someone go on a rant about politics or whatever than toss out a comment that makes no sense. I always feel a bit heartless, and will sometimes comment with sympathy, but generally I don’t. I watch and see if they ever clarify so I can offer knowledgeable feedback. But then, I am very private, and haven’t gotten into the posting every moment or meal or conversation of my day. It’s just not me.

  4. Well, although I have oodles of JAFF friends on FB, I am pretty much a dud when it comes to posting on my own page. I have pics of the grand-kids, nieces and nephews, put up a few music or JAFF related things every now and then, but that is about it. And even though I have loads of ideas for a blog and have actually written posts, I have yet to figure out WordPress and put up a page. LOL I tell my friends if it’s important, please call. Heck I don’t even text. As for the news, all I have to do is ask Greg what’s happening in the world and I’m good to go go. That’s me! ~Jen Red~

  5. I don’t even want to KNOW what it means when I refuse to use or join Facebook. Even making comments on this site is new for me. I like to limit my online footprint as much as possible, so my feeling is, if you want to know what is going on with me… call me! It is way more personal.

  6. Oh dear, now that I think of it, my sister-in-law (who has vastly different political views than I) didn’t just de-friend me on FB, she gave me the cut direct! I definitely agree that there are some parallels – there are even people who work for Facebook who will shut down an account if they decide you’re misbehaving! I never would have thought to compare it, but then, I still have my FB voucher!

  7. I was thinking the same as Kathy, that Facebook is too inclusive to be Almacks. That said, it is also a social network when one can isolate those that ones does not want to associate with, except in a cursory way, by turning off their notifications without befriending them.

    In that regard, I can see how it mirrors the ton speaking to certain people when they met on the street but not inviting them to dinner. šŸ™‚ Certainly food for thought! Thanks for sharing,

  8. Well, I can certainly see the similarities. LOL The one new thing is that Facebook allows me to get the proverbial scoop and see what’s going on amongst the ton without having to spend an hour getting elegantly attired and making sure I’m not wearing last years styles. I can peep and lurk and participate to my hearts content in my jammies. Of course, I’m also not exactly a chatty patty so this INTJ prefers this kind of interaction a lot of days. LOL Just think of how Darcy would have enjoyed that part of social media. =D

  9. I enjoyed your post this morning. Loved the monicker vaguebooking. It does frisreate me sometimes as to whose posts show up on my fb page….and sometimes I miss ‘important’ posts. Thanks for the fun look at how receiving news has changed this morning Elizabeth.

  10. LOL, you had me laughing at Vaguebooking! I can defintely see Facebook as Almack’s. We’re all part of the gentry but Facebook decides who is cool enough to follow, who shows up on my feed. You can be made and broken on Facebook. Someone is *always* watching and usually hypercritical. There can be ridiculous standards to keep up in some people’s minds. Some people show up just to be seen. Some people are bored and are just there because it’s the thing to do etc.

    Now, my facebook experience is much more fun than that (at least my JAFF account is) but I definitely see the comparison.

  11. I am not certain that the invitation-only Almack’s is now our modern Facebook. After all, anyone can join. But maybe FB is more closely equivalent to the morning call? One may post a status (have at home hours) that is ignored (no one calls), gossip is spread, congratulations or sympathies given, friend requests made (introductions), relationships fostered with limited contact (there you are Almacks), and a true effort must be made to have an actual relationship. Maybe it just means that society never really changes. Lol

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