About Facebook Memories…

… and one in particular.

I know, some people prefer not to see them, but I generally like to see those posts from the past that pop up every day. Of course, some of them are no longer of interest, while others bring a smile to my face and words from my lips.

“Was that really six years ago?”

“Was that only last year? So much has happened to me since then.”

In the current climate, I also think of how the whole world has changed since last year.

One of today’s memories brought a different reaction from me: regret.

We met, she and I, in an online forum. Later, she started up another, smaller forum and I joined it. We interacted quite a lot. I even met her in person when we stayed together for two days.

Eventually, with the rise of Facebook, there didn’t seem any point in continuing with the forum. We became Facebook friends. She sent me a message in Hebrew; I was touched.


It couldn’t last. Although we had a lot in common – enough to chat about on the forum – there was too much that separated us. Topics that didn’t come up on the forum couldn’t help but come between us on Facebook. She broke off contact.

I think about her sometimes and hope she and her family are well and happy.

Facebook is supposed to bring people together, but sometimes it tears them apart.

Books Social anxiety

Who can Resist a Challenge?

Not me, apparently.

My publisher, Crooked Cat Books, posed a challenge for its authors: to GO LIVE on Facebook, all on the same day: tomorrow – Wednesday.

My first reaction was


My second reaction was


Well, I have made a couple of videos, including this one:

My third reaction was

 I’ll do 11am French time. I don’t believe I said that…

So apparently I’ll be live on Facebook tomorrow at 10 UK, 11 France, 12 Israel… I don’t know what I’ll be talking about, but I’m sure the words “social anxiety” will come up more than once. “Books,” too.

See you then! Eek!

EDIT: I’ll be doing this from my Facebook Author Page.

EDIT2: I did this, and then Facebook lost the video. (Expletives have been removed.)

Everyday life Extraordinary events Israel

Reflecting Reality

Social media, especially Facebook, I’ve found, has enormous potential to distort reality. It probably contributes to our surprise at the way recent votes have gone. Our friends on Facebook tend to be those who have similar views to our own. If we discover views we disagree with, we tend to unfriend their propagators rather than engaging them in discussion or just ignoring offending posts.

The result becomes very one-sided. My friends were almost totally anti-Brexit and anti-Trump. Yet both Brexit and Trump came to pass, surprising many, including me.

Now, in my little country, an issue has come up in which the views of my friends do reflect reality, although I don’t understand why. Israelis are split over this and so are my friends. I won’t unfriend those I disagree with. I want to try and understand. And sometimes they post views I do agree with.

Contrary to the complicated issues connected with this country, this one seems very straightforward to me. A soldier was found guilty of killing a terrorist after the terrorist was restrained and no longer a threat. For all ethical reasons, religious ones included, it should be clear that he committed a crime and must be punished. This article explains why.

What do some of my Facebook friends (and friends of friends) say against the verdict? Mostly that they, as mothers, have told their sons that their safety comes first and they shouldn’t hesitate to shoot if they find themselves in danger. They – the mothers – would rather visit their sons in jail than in the graveyard. Absolutely – I understand that, but that wasn’t the case here.

It would be awful if this led to violence, which has been threatened.

Yemin Moshe - view along Malki Street
A lane in Yemin Moshe

So to another, much pleasanter, article. It shows the Jerusalem I know and love. I’ve never seen the one most people imagine.



So this is my Facebook home page at 9:30 this morning:

1. Pictures of people in Tel-Aviv trying to shelter from a falling missile.

2. Pictures of people in Tel-Aviv trying to shelter from a falling missile.

3. Something about a car alarm that sounds like a siren.

4. An article about break-ups in the orthodox world.

5. A link to a blog post about the “situation”.

6. A link to a blog post by an Israeli comedian who manages to continue laughing despite everything.

7. Someone who asks, “How do you fight with people who have no regard for human life but plat the humanitarian card with social media?”

8. A link to a blog post about using Twitter.

9. A link to a blog post about a wedding held under the threat of missiles.

10. Something about security and rockets.

11. What Israeli schoolchildren sing to deal with rockets.

12. Breast cancer awareness: some people with the worst pasts end up creating the best futures.

13. Tel-Aviv is a target….

14. Posts about Corsica.

15. About sirens in Tel-Aviv.

16. About sirens in Binyamina.

17. Football.

18. Kids playing chess, despite everything.

19. George R. R. Martin, whoever he is.

20. What high school stereotype are you?

9:30 is only 7:30 in the UK. Later the posts will be more even. Pictures of pets and babies, posts about writing between talk of missiles.

I know that life continues as normal in other parts of the world, but I feel torn apart – wanting to keep in touch with what’s going on in my country, wanting to react to light comments with light answers and needing to keep up to date with writing colleagues. It’s hard to continue like that for days on end.

So if you “see” a bit less of me on social media, I hope you’ll understand why.

Books Israel

Worlds Apart

My world and your world. Their world and our world. Where am I? Where are you? Where are they?

Somewhere, further down in this post, I will talk about tomorrow’s book launch. If you don’t want to read my prattle, you can go there now.

Things used to be easier in the old days. Worlds kept themselves separate. Facebook brings them all together. It’s hard.

One minute I’m reading about the topic that’s uppermost in the mind of all Israelis. Three teenagers were kidnapped by terrorists. Parents look at their children, knowing it could have been them. How can a sixteen-year-old cope with being held by people who want us all dead?

The next minute, without even scrolling or clicking, I see a joke and I try to laugh. Then there’s a beep and I have to read and comment on a totally unrelated topic. Yes, have to, because it’s part of my job of being a writer. I have to look away from my world and become part of yours for a while.

Yes, I know it’s happened to you, to. There was 9/11, 7/7 and all the rest. But when those things happened, all the worlds were feeling similarly shocked. Now, it’s just us. For everyone else it’s business as usual. Who cares about three boys?

Then there’s their world: the world of those who are euphoric over the news. I see that, too, when people post their pictures and comments, before I look away in disgust.

But I really wanted to talk about another world, one that is right here in Jerusalem. The other day, I walked into the haredi world to take pictures. But when I was there, I didn’t feel good about photographing them, even though no one took any notice of me at all.

Signs that make me feel unwelcome, Mea Shearim
Signs that make me feel unwelcome, Mea Shearim

I hurriedly snapped a few photos and escaped from another world where I don’t belong.

A street in Mea Shearim, Jerusalem
A street in Mea Shearim, Jerusalem

Esty, the heroine of Neither Here Nor There, did belong there. She grew up there. Her family and friends and everyone who knew her expected her to remain in that world for the rest of her life.

And they expected her to meet her future husband two or three times, sitting far apart from him so as not to touch him by mistake, before making a decision about whether to spend the rest of her life with him.

If you look carefully below the Old City walls that are lit for the Jerusalem Festival of Lights, you can make out the man on the left and the girl on the right
If you look carefully below the Old City walls that are lit for the Jerusalem Festival of Lights, you can make out the man on the left and the girl on the right of the bench

In my novel, I don’t make any judgements. My characters make judgements occasionally, but mostly this is a novel of discovery. The characters find out about the other world on their doorstep.

I’ve said enough for now. If you want to join in tomorrow’s festivities, which will include a competition, go to this Facebook page. You can join it now.


Social Media Pitfalls

We whizz through Facebook liking, commenting and sharing. When we like and comment, and particularly when we share, we might think for a second whether what we’re sharing is really what we want our friends to see, but more than a second just isn’t available. So we hit Share and hope for the best.

Some time ago, someone unfriended me for a video I shared. It was a video that showed up some lies. Possibly it went too far in the other direction. The fact is, I didn’t think about it too much until it happened. Fortunately, she changed her mind later.

It’s happened again, but this time it’s nothing to do with me. Someone blocked someone else for sharing a photo created by a far right group. The poster doesn’t support the group and didn’t think about the significance of posting the photo. The other person could have discussed the problem rather than blocking.

Is blocking ever the right reaction? I think it is if someone is constantly posting stuff you don’t want to see.

And when else? When is blocking right and when is it not right? What do you think?


Why do you Like?

I’m… like… confused about why… like…  people… like… like, if you… like… know what I mean.

Facebook is the mother of likes, I think. It has many objects you can like. Posts, comments, pages, photos. In WordPress, you can like blog posts.

But why? Why does anyone like anything? Possibly you:

  • Just want to show you like the object.
  • Want to show you agree with the object.
  • Don’t have anything particular to say about the obect.
  • Are to lazy to say anything about the object.
  • Don’t particularly like the object but want to encourage the person who created or posted it. Saying, “This is awesome!” would be going too far, but one click of a like… well, that’s OK if it makes someone feel good.

While these can all be valid reasons, surely when you click that four-letter word you’re aware that you’ve made yourself  visible to a lot of people, some of whom might know you or know of you, but most of whom will not. Surely you’re aware of the possibility that some people might want to know more about this person who clicked this button.

In WordPress, in order to like a post you need to have defined a gravatar. I have no idea why it works in this way, but it does. A gravatar is a sort of profile. It tells people things about you. In particular, when you define your gravatar, or when you edit it, you can add links to it. You can direct people to your blog, Facebook page, Twitter profile or whatever you like.

And this leads to the reason why I’m confused.


Of the (currently) five people who liked my last post, only one has any link at all on their gravatar. And that one contains two links that no longer exist and no link to the author’s blog, although I know he has one.

And I ask myself

WhySurely most people who press like, especially on a blog post that is usually viewed by other bloggers, are interested in publicity. Surely they want new followers and are keen for others to find them.

So why don’t they all update their gravatars and include links to their blogs/websites/social media profiles? Perhaps they:

  • Don’t know how to.
  • Can’t remember their password.
  • Can’t be bothered.
  • Other (please state).

Those problems can be solved. I think it’s important to solve them. Don’t you?

Social anxiety

I’m probably over-reacting, but…

As far as I know, there was only one time in my adult life that someone decided not to talk to me. The situation lasted for two weeks, during which I was devastated. Why? Probably because in my childhood it was a regular occurrence for me to be sent to Coventry. Because even when this was not the case, I was mostly ignored. When I wasn’t ignored I was mostly made fun of, and yet this was preferable. For me, loneliness was harder than being bullied, and not being spoken to has remained the worst thing anyone can do to me.

When, a few days ago, someone unfriended me on Facebook, it felt just the same. Even though I’ve never met this person. Even though, as I’ve been told, this is a common occurrence on Facebook. This was someone I had “talked” to quite a lot, someone who had always been friendly up to then.

At first, I could only guess at the reason. Later, through a mutual friend, my suspicions were confirmed, although I still don’t understand it completely. I’m hoping that this rift won’t last long either.

Friends, on- or offline, don’t always agree with each other. They can discuss their differences or agree to differ. Breaking off the friendship seems very drastic, even on Facebook. To me, anyway.