I’ve been having this internal debate over the past few weeks: Is there any reason whatsoever for me to be on Facebook anymore? I’ve discussed this quandary externally as well with a friend over buffalo wings and booze; with my wife in our marital bed; with my 2-year-old daughter while driving home from a family dinner out. (Side note: There’s nothing like discussing your frustration with social media with a toddler who just wants you to turn up Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” so she can hear the part in which Miley discusses dancing with one of said toddler’s best friends, Molly, to put into perspective how truly asinine it is to get worked up about Facebook not “being what I want it to be.”)
The conclusion I reached with the aforementioned friend over dinner a couple of weeks ago was this: Facebook is fine, you just have to decide what your Facebook page is going to be and what kind of Facebook-self you want to present to the world. Do you know how devastating it is to be 35-years-old and having this conversation? The horrors of this discussion weren’t lost on us. Did I mention that we both left the pub feeling pretty drunk?
I think I just don’t like what most people have decided what they want their Facebook pages to be, and that’s my problem. On my birthday, I posted a list of 35 (not really) life lessons I’ve learned over the years, the most important of which, in my opinion, being “like what you like.” Don’t worry about what other people think about the shoddy, no good garbage you think is great. Think it’s great, whatever it is, and post about it all the livelong day. That said, here’s a list of my Facebook pet peeves.
1. Non-Stop Complaining: Is it possible to live a life that is nothing but sorrow, anger and unending delusions that everybody in the known universe is out to ruin your life specifically? I have FB “friends” whose pages are nothing more than an ever-growing litany of complaints and conspiracy theories. Everyone is out to destroy their miserable, painful lives; there’s not enough time in the day to flip the bird at everybody who deserves it (i.e. everybody); their families are garbage; their friends are garbage; their co-worker in the next cubicle over is garbage; life, in general, is garbage.
Here’s why your life is not so bad: 1) You have access to a computer, which, in turn, gives you access to social media, which, in turn, gives you a place to complain and have people fawn all over you, stroke your ego, and justify your daily—sometimes hourly!—woe is me’s. 2) You have fingers to type your daily diatribe against the world. Do you know how many people in this world don’t have fingers? Lots, probably.
Look, everybody’s life experiences both ups and downs, but I refuse to believe that people on Facebook, posting updates from their job or the house they’ve been able to purchase because of full-time employment, live lives full of non-stop bullshit that justifies the level of complaining they do.
2. Cries for Attention: Examples: “That’s it!” “I’m so over this!” “I guess that’s that then.” “I’m done.”
We all know what you’re doing. Stop it!
Cries for Attention are closely linked to Non-Stop Complaining, only far more infuriating because of their vagueness. Both status strategies provide opportunity for “concerned cohorts” or “lovers of drama” or “ rumor-mongers” to jump into the action, and pretty soon, everybody is jerking each other off about this and that, justifying each other’s dumb complaints and petty disagreements.
3. Daily Affirmations: We’ve all seen these pop up in our News Feed from time to time (i.e. every hour, on the hour), bon mots like “When God closes a door, He opens another door and Faith is the key,” accompanied by a picture of a half-open garden gate with a child’s wagon and a teddy bear slumped over inside next to it. Or “God broke the mold when he made Southern Girls” with like a gingerbread woman cookie cutter superimposed over it. Or “God is God, so just let God be God and totally Trust God to be God.” They’re mostly about God.
Find something original to say, all right? If I want to read a bunch of daily affirmations, I’ll just spend a few hours in the motivational poster room I maintain on my side of the closet in our master bedroom. You can’t imagine how many motivational posters I’ve fit into one place. It’s sick. But, yeah, stop clogging my News Feed with hackneyed sentiment and dusty religious yada-yada-yada.
4. Political Masturbation: I get it, you’re smarter about politics than I am. You spend large amounts of your day keeping up with what’s going on—or what’s not going on—in our nation’s capital and you want to shoot your knowledge and your opinion all over the Internet’s face. Sort of like a one man bukkake of political philosophy I can’t even begin to understand or care about.
There are those of a particular political persuasion that are the worst when it comes to this, but I’m going to hold my tongue because I don’t want to incur their wrath or encourage comments about how this blog is nothing but a Fascist entity keen on turning the general populace into slaves.
5. Unearned Expertise/I’m Right, You’re Wrong, and You’re Stupid For Not Agreeing With Me: Granted, a few people can pull this move off with enough cunning skill to alert readers to the fact that they are winking all the while. Those people are fine. I’m one of those people. It’s the people who, say, I don’t know, post a link to an article in which the author is irritated by peanut products and homemade cupcakes being banned from their child’s daycare, and they whole-hearted agree and argue with everyone with a dissenting opinion in the most insulting way possible, regardless of the fact that they themselves do not have children at all. That may have been too specific. That person can un-friend me if he/she wants. I have a kid with a handful of allergies, so, maybe you rubbed me the wrong way a little.
Why even post articles or opinions ripe with opportunities for discussion if you’re just going to keep telling anyone who feels differently about the topic that they are idiots and don’t deserve to share, let alone have, their own opinion? At least the political masturbators engage in thoughtful, fairly-respectful discourse. Facebook “Experts” are a rude bunch, easily pushed into the frenzied attack zone when the viewpoint they’ve held for exactly ten seconds after halfway reading a Huffington Post article about food allergies or Sea World or whether or not Miley Cyrus deserves her fame is under attack.
6. Willful Christian Ignorance: Don’t know if you are aware, but according to some Christians on Facebook, Christianity is under attack, almost constantly. So are the Republican party, the Religious Right, Christian churches both here and abroad, and good old-fashioned morals in general. Who is Christianity’s greatest foe? President Barack Obama, of course. You didn’t think it was still Satan, did you?
In this case, I will cite a specific example because a) this person doesn’t read my blog (her head would probably explode if she happened upon it by accident and learned that a former Sunday school student of hers uses the f-word occasionally, in ways both rude and sexual) and b) she has a habit of posting things without researching them first.
Last year—I think it may have been the first ever Get It Off My Facebook Page actually—I posted a video railing against President Obama and his anti-Christian goons in Congress for banning a country song about how America needs to return to its (not exactly) Christian roots or what-have-you. I knew without any research that this was probably bullshit—arguing that Obama was too busy trying to forge his birth certificate to worry about banning songs from the radio—and it turns out I was right, because obviously. This morning, while enjoying what I refer to as my Morning Shit, I was catching up on what my “friends” were up to on Facebook, and found that my former Sunday school teacher was at it again. This time she had posted a video from an Atlanta newscast exposing the sick, sad news that American federal tax dollars were being used to fund the rebuilding of mosques in the Middle East.
Turns out that this is actually true, but a quick check on FactCheck.org (http://www.factcheck.org/2011/03/funding-mosques-overseas/) shows that there is a lot more to the story then my “friend” was aware of. You see, the original poster of this video—not my “friend,” to be fair—had posted this piece, which I believe was broadcast originally in 2011, specifically to attack our President and promote thoughtless jingoism and feed fuel to the lie that “Helping Out Middle Eastern People = Funding Terrorism = Christianity Sucks” somehow. I’m willing to bet my “friend” only posted the video because of the whole “America’s hard-earned money going to mosques” angle the newscast is promoting. I encourage you to follow that FactCheck link. I almost posted in her Facebook wall, but decided against it because I don’t enjoy confrontation very much.
7. Links to Articles Re: How Awful Social Media Sites Have Become: I hate it when people share links to things like “5 Things Engaged People Post On Their Facebook Pages That Make Us Want To Puke Forever” or “20 FB Photo Trends We Could Do Without” or “Get It Off My Facebook Page: 7 Facebook Pet Peeves.”
Wait. Hold on a minute.
Hey, I didn’t go back through my FB archives before typing this article. I’ve probably been guilty of some of these things. You are more than welcome to comb through my social media past and alert me to any indiscretions or momentary lapses in judgment. I welcome it. Like yourself, I’m assuming, I am a human being and, by definition, a raving hypocrite.
Here’s what I’m proposing for myself. I want to use my Facebook page to celebrate things. If I like something I like, I’ll post about it in a glowing manner. If I don’t like something, maybe I’ll make a joke about it or maybe I’ll just limit that to this blog. I will also continue to use my FB page as a Lawson family photo album as I know it delights my family—both immediate and extended—and my true, non-Facebook-specific friends. I’ll also use it to post weird jokes that no one will ever comment on because they don’t understand what I’m doing nor should they. I’m not on Twitter anymore (a long story that may be told on the pages of GEP someday, but no day soon), so I need an outlet for my weird and silly impulses.
You should use Facebook anyway you please. Like what you like and decide what you want the world to think about you. It’s up to you. I don’t have any suggestions, because I’m no better than any other social media drone. I would suggest, however, joining Instagram, because it is, in my opinion, the best. I’ve contemplated devoting my social media activities solely to Instagram (this is still on the metaphorical table), but for now I’ll see you on Facebook, you wonderful people you.
UPDATE: Oh, I’m also not a fan of inappropriate snark in the comments section, but that’s an issue I have with only one Facebook and true-life friend, Jordan Beall. So, I left it off the list. Love you, Beall, but we have to talk about your snark problem. DM me.
(Don’t really. I’m kidding.)