Monday, July 17, 2017

Pet Peeves #10: Facebook edition

Here is a person who just looks
like she's doing something
 unhealthy on Facebook
In 2010, after I'd been blogging for a while, my son convinced me to join Facebook so that I could start posting "like everyone else."  

Also, he suggested, I might want to create a special page that directed traffic to the blog. 
"What's the difference between a Facebook page and a Facebook page?" I asked
"People can go to your newest post from your special page and not their newsfeed."
"What's the difference between a post and a status?"
"Same thing."
"What's the difference between a timeline and a wall?"
"Same thing."
"Why is this going to help?"
"It just will."
"Who can see what I post?"
"That's up to you." 
Loaded with information now, I signed up. 
There were bumps in the beginning:

It took me forever to post anything because to "go on" Facebook in the beginning is like entering a party where everyone has known each other since Pre-K. What to say?

My first posts were agreeable, possibly  sugary affirmations - neither incendiary nor interesting - which make me wince to remember, like most of my essays written around 2004 do.  

I shared videos of my cat with myself more than once before my son PM'd me about it.  
But soon enough, I was good at Facebook.  

I discovered the difference between sharing with friends and sharing  with the public.

I found, and was found by, people I've worked with, gone to school with, met through writing. I was "friended" by the kids' old babsysitters, which I found touching. 
I read everything on my news feed, at first.  When I became overwhelmed by provocative, angry, traumatizing or boastful posts, I learned how to "hide posts" without "unfriending," the Facebook equivalent of hanging up on someone and not talking to them again. Ever. 

I've been looking at Facebook more closely as we've endured these wildly inconsistent political times. It's not the coffee break it used to be when we were trading our coins of pretty food and pets and backyards and, of course, our latest articles and blog posts. Now, with steady frequency, it has become a place where one can trot out one's uncensored, angriest side and be reinforced in seconds by someone who might be as stable as a pinball. 

It can be an unhealthy place, Facebook, if you started as a frog in cold water with all those pictures of your vacations and girls' nights out. 

The majority of people who pop up in my feed still bring something of value, something that makes me laugh, or smile, or think. Post-Trump, I've toned down my own posts. But it matters that Facebook has the power to lure us from healthy thinking that springs from real engagement with the world. It is the McDonald's of social media. A little once in a while won't kill you, a little more, more of the time will kill you slowly. 

With that, I dedicate this edition of peeves to Facebook, the drive-thru social media that can feel good for a few minutes if you're bored, but a little queasy later when you know you should have had a salad instead.

1. Facebook "memory" posts.
What if "one year ago today!" you were battling depression, or thirty pounds heavier, or still married, or still the owner of the pet who has passed on? This is one of the most intrusive gimmicks Facebook has launched, right up there with:  
2. People we "may know" on Facebook
And yet, have not friended, and yet are being coaxed by Facebook to consider "adding" to the grid of faces, the way you were once encouraged to try peas because "you might like them now." 
3. Facebook users who post links to "disturbing," or, "heartbreaking," or "horrifying" stories with comments like  "This guy should fry for what he did."
Why, oh why, oh why, with all the unavoidable grief in the world, all the in-your-face opportunities to be sad, do we float these things around on Facebook like sad little balloons
4. Idealistic/Facebook memes
A. Memes that encourage us to live better right this minute (like I do here on the blog but never mind).  They are not annoying because they're banal. They're annoying because they're true and don't come with instructions. How exactly does one get to "the other side of fear where anything is possible." 
B. Memes that target toxic people who will never understand that "If I cut you loose, you gave me the scissors" is about them. They should, but it's not in their DNA to understand that a bad situation is, in fact, their fault.

This concludes another edition of Peeves. I hope you had fun, but mostly, as regards Facebook, I hope you know when to walk away and  know when to run, and have learned not to share videos with yourself.


  1. I despise Facebook...both personally and the blog version. I peek in occasionally, but am always quickly reminded why I don't deal with it.

    1. I get that. There are days where I check in, but find it hard to engage. Other times, there are funny things that are uplifting. I do like to notify friends of a new post via Facebook. But I find I'm scrolling past more and more negative these days.

  2. I have mixed feelings about FB and use it mostly for my business nowadays. I agree with all your peeves. I'd like to add a couple:
    1. People who post 10+ times a day, including posts with calls to action to sign petitions and things that do nothing to make anything better
    2. People who post alarmist "forward this to everyone on the planet" and other hoaxes without first checking your facts. I had a cousin who did this, and when I posted that it was a hoax, she replied nastily and never talked to me again! Isn't facebook wonderful!

    1. I missed those, but yes, me too. And the posts that tell you to share if you love your pet, child, spouse, parents etc.

  3. Most of my relatives live miles from me and Facebook is a way to keep in touch. Or was, until the 2016 elections came and I saw posts from a couple of them you just couldn't unsee. And the friendship anniversaries. One, a couple of weeks ago, featured a friend who, sadly, died two years ago. And I hear you about the pictures of abused dogs and worse, under the pretext of "the person who did that should fry!"

  4. Facebook when it's good, is very, very good. Some friends of mine make my day with their posts. But Facebook has also become a place to vent and share sorrow and like you, I just skip or scroll through or hide those posts before they can leave a stain on my brain.

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