Doing Facebook better...

Firstly - Time Management
One of the most important rules to understand is that the philosophy of any social media website is to get you and keep you there. All well designed websites are constantly trying to keep your eyes on their page reading their content. Serving you content that is relevant and interesting to you. This is for a a lot of reasons not least being they can serve you advertising from their advertisers. It’s great for the viewer because it becomes a potentially endless supply of meaningful interesting content. The downside to this is that it’s very easy to spend LOTS of time on sites without realising.

My advice for newbies is to be careful about how much time you spend on social media. It’s better to be deliberate in setting aside time to spend on Facebook. Perhaps setting aside blocks of time is one way of controlling this. It’s also important to reflect on the experience to see if it’s even something you enjoy. Many people find Facebook depressing, boring and upsetting. It’s important to bear this in mind before signing up.

Second - Privacy Settings
Understanding which parts of Facebook are “public” and “private”. I remember a good friend of mine being publicly castigated on Facebook by his mother for the way he spent money. This was embarrassing not only for the mother but also my friend. By default most settings are set to broadcast what you say and upload publicly, so either learn how to control your privacy or be very careful what you put up.

Third - Self Education
Following on from above it’s also important to understand or seek to educate yourself about how Facebook works. This empowers you to be better and to make sure that you control the technology not that the technology controls you. This is especially important because Facebook is constantly in a state of flux and development from Graph search, Timeline and Newsfeed all of these things. Facebook is aggressive in adopting changes from other platforms. There are lots of sites that regularly report on changes to Facebook and write simple how-to posts. One of my favorites is Mashable.

Fourth - Edgerank
Ever wondered why you don’t see anything from that old University mate you connected with a year ago? Or perhaps you’re wondering why you don’t see anything from people who you used to work with? Well this is Edgerank at work. Edgerank is affected by who you interact with and who interacts with you. In other words Edgerank decides who it thinks you are most interested in (based on your input eg. likes, comments, and chats) and feeds you more of that meaningful information. This means that as your interest wanes in your old University mates exploits Facebook notices this and eventually drops him off your Newsfeed.

No-one knows exactly how Edgerank works, Facebook keeps it secret. The algorithm itself is in a constant state of flux being updated and changed to try and keep you on the site for longer (see point one). The important thing to remember is that what appears for you on your Newsfeed in Facebook is controlled. It is controlled by an algorithm that you don’t really have much control over. I'll post some more about this in the future.

Fifth - Be Interesting
To do Facebook well you need to be thoughtful and intentional. Facebook generally isn’t a place where people with an axe to grind flourish. When people do this more or less exclusively, they run the risk of becoming boring and uninteresting. Consequently people switch off, unsubscribe and un-friend. With social media the key is to be fresh, interesting, engaging and intentional. This is of course, much more challenging.

Personally speaking, I aim to welcome a variety or viewpoints on my wall. I consciously try to help people (non-believers for example) feel comfortable to post links and feel welcome to contribute their points of view. This also helps me to be careful with what I say and not hold proudly to my own opinions and ideas.

Sixth - Be Real
My philosophy is that Facebook should reflect who I am as a person in real life. This means that I’ll talk about things that I’m passionate about... but it won’t be *all* I post about. I’ll also post about some of the more trivial but interesting aspects of my life, when I crash my car, eat a nice meal or my children do something amazing. Authenticity is key, otherwise we run the risk that people will perceive us as nothing more than the sum total of one issue. Finally try to temper what I write and post, so that it is loving and serving the interests of others, not myself.

Seventh - Be Humble
I’m the first to admit I don’t get this right. It’s easy to sound authoritative about subjects that you know nothing about. The internet is full of self important people with un-thought through opinions to share. Be prepared to say sorry, back down when you’re wrong. Don’t let your pride and emotions control cloud thinking and judgement. The internet like any good society it requires thoughtful articulate polite people to express views and opinions. But it also requires humility to admit when you're wrong and empathy to understand where others are coming from.



The breeze is warm and dry. Typical Californian weather. Perfect blue sky not a cloud in sight. The sail cloth flaps loosely in the breeze above me. Ordinarily I’d be thinking about how I could fix this problem but I’m too nervous.

I’m sitting in a the waiting area having forked over two hundred bucks to jump out of a perfectly good aeroplane. This sounds slightly crazy because it is. Just minutes earlier I’d signed my life away. Five A4 pages of double sided legal disclaimers. “If you have any questions speak to your lawyer”. Yeah like I brought my lawyer with me to America. After everything was signed, I then had to read a disclaimer while looking into a video camera. I figure if I die it won’t be me suing them anyway.

Across from where I’m sitting there’s huge bar. The area is surrounded by camper trailers. It occurs to me that here is the ideal place to get drunk after a hard days diving before crawling back to your van.

Most of the people here are young … apart from the geriatric freestyle skydiving team rehearsing their moves. A mix of people. A few accents. Behind me are some egos. Cool clothes wearing baseball caps. They look like the extreme sport guys you see on TV and exude confidence. Just nearby some young French guys converse in sexy dulcet tones drawing heavily on cigarettes. Another guy meticulously packs his parachute. He is fit and tanned. Just behind me a group lying on what look like skateboards practicing free falling. It looks silly.

A shadow falls over the assembly area and all eyes are drawn upwards. One guy comes over low and fast seeming to skim the tops of the trees. He makes a perfect landing. It looks dangerous. If I wasn’t scared after watching all the videos and signing the disclaimers I am now. I visualise what it would be like to do this myself. A lump comes to my throat.

Mike is my instructor. He’s American, short and stocky in build, served in the Army. The kind of guy who inspires confidence. He explains he's jumped about 14,000 times. My mind starts to do the the calculations on that. How many years how many jumps per day. In the end I give up. I’m too nervous.

There’s another guy sitting beside me, we get chatting. Aaron is from the area and he’s decided to do a jump while waiting for his car to be serviced. One way to kill some time I guess. He seems distracted and I can see he’s eying off one of the female instructors.

We suit up and the call comes through to walk to staging area. I climb the stairs into the plane hot exhaust from the engine whooshes into my face. It’s hot and smells like a combination of aviation fuel and burnt metal. Inside the aircraft is Spartan, even the oldest Metro bus in Hobart seems positively luxurious by comparison.

The pilot doesn’t waste anytime and takes off immediately. The aircraft climbing steeply. I watch the altimeter strapped to my wrist. 1000 feet  2000, 3000. Mike leans over to me shouting over the engine noise. “ten minutes till we jump!”. I’m still very nervous.

With five minutes to go we clip up. I try to relax. Mike does everything up so tight I can feel each breath he takes. We edge down the grey benches down toward the back of the plane. We get to the door and I resolve to look at the horizon and not at the 12,000 foot drop. To be honest I'm pretty scared. He counts to three. I close my eyes and we’re falling.

I open my mouth to scream but the shear force of air pushes any scream I had back into my gut. My mouth is instantly dry and my cheeks ripple in the wind. I close my mouth quickly. The fall itself is frenetic. My brain is overloaded with a thousand sensations at once. It’s hard to think clearly, everything happens so fast. Mike yells something in my ear and I manage to smile and wave to my camera guy. I give the thumbs up.

Mike again yells in my ear that he’s going to open the chute. For the second time I close my eyes. The chute opens bringing our 180km/h free fall to an end. The harness violently tightens across my body. It feels like my arms and legs are going to be ripped off.

I open my eyes and everything is eerily quiet and totally still. The contrast to the frantic free fall just moments earlier couldn’t be greater. I look down and we’re very very high up. It feels a bit like looking out the window of a plane but without the plane part.

We glide and loop downwards toward the landing area. It’s not a bad sensation which only starts to get scary as we near the bottom of the decent. Trees and roof-tops loom just a little too close for comfort. We zoom over the top, landing smoothly.

Post jump I’m sitting once again in the bar area gradually removing my jump suit. Aaron rolls up to the female instructor with a post jump confidence high. I can just overhear their conversation. He asks her on a date. She says no. It’s absorbingly awkward. I’ve got my value for money. So much more entertaining than just a jump.