On The Face of It

Lucy Metherall's Local Guide to Facebook

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Facebook, for those of you still blissfully unaware of its existence, is a social networking website used extensively by millions of people throughout the world. The site, which initially connected students at America’s elite universities proved such a success that it soon spread to all the schools and colleges in the US. Following its colossal popularity in the States, the site crossed the Atlantic, taking the UK by storm and quickly becoming a global networking phenomenon.

But what has all this got to do with W4? Well, one of the main features of Facebook is that members can set up and join ‘groups’, enabling them to establish virtual connections with others with similar interests and concerns. After receiving requests inviting me to join two Chiswick-related Facebook groups within the same week, my curiosity was piqued: just how many Chiswick-related groups could there be out there?

Type ‘Chiswick’ into the ‘group’ search engine on Facebook and you’ll uncover page after page of Chiswick-related groups. Clearly, some local residents have rather a lot of time on their hands!

Firstly, and probably most prolifically, there are the groups which quite simply proclaim what a fantastic place Chiswick is. In a brief search I stumbled across the following groups: ‘Anyone not from Chiswick isn’t worth knowing’ (a group which contained a note entitled: ‘Why people from Chiswick are of higher moral character than anyone else’), ‘Chiswick is the geographical centre of the universe’ and ‘I live in Chiswick…the land of champions.’ It would seem, contrary to media representations, that young Chiswickians have retained a sense of pride in their local community.

There are also a significant number of groups whose members unite in order to remember specific Chiswick institutions. Along with a huge number of groups connecting former pupils of local schools, there are also groups which pay homage to slightly more unusual Chiswick landmarks. The 243 members of the ‘Chiswick House Grounds Climbing Tree appreciation group’ recall their youthful escapades with nostalgia, whilst the ‘London Bus route 440’ sings the praises of this Chiswick bus route.

Another group which tickled my fancy was the ‘Chiswick Single Gentleman’s Society’. Given that the group boasts a paltry six members, single Chiswick ladies might well be advised to look a little further a field for potential partners.

So are all these groups simply a means of exchanging harmless banter or is there a more worrying side to such groups? In light of the scandal ignited by the ‘Chav hunting’ video produced by pupils at a Scottish public school, a video which stirred up fears of continuing class tensions, the existence of the Facebook group ‘Chiswick residents against Pikies’ might be considered by some as more than a just a bit of harmless fun…

Asked about her own views of such Facebook groups, Georgina Ambrose, a recent graduate and local resident, commented that although the groups have been useful in putting her in contact with old school friends, ‘many of the Chiswick groups are very rarely updated, meaning that they’re not very useful for finding out what’s going on in the local area.’

Chiswick-related Facebook groups may be plentiful but they’re not, it seems, particularly successful at providing up to date information on the local area. My advice, and it’s possible I may be a little biased, would be to stick with ChiswickW4’s forum…

August 22, 2007