Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Unsociable Media

My daughter tells me I'm bored. I think she gets this because she knows I spend an inordinate amount of time browsing Facebook, for some reason unknown to any but God. Maybe she's right.

When I first heard about Facebook I thought it sounded like the silliest exercise in futility I could imagine. This was in 2008, when the game was new and all the rage. It supplanted something called MySpace, which I'd never tried. But I had a few friends on Facebook and went online to see what it was all about. I was put off by the terms. "Status" is the place to post your latest idea, mood, or swiped meme. I didn't know what a meme was and had no interest in revealing any innermost or outermost thought. But I began to catch on. I could scroll down and see what the people I knew were up to, and if somebody interesting posted a snappy comment more than once, I just might ask them to become my Facebook friend.

A real-life friend had just joined, and I noted that he already had 50 FB friends while I only had 12. He said one of his friends had just hooked him up with about 40 of them. I began scrounging around, gathering names, and commenting on their posts. Soon I had a hundred and had actually met a few of them in person. Now I'm up to over 300, but I seldom add a new name these days.

The thing is, on these sites I lose my filter. Early on, a Facebook-friend-of-a-Facebook-friend said of me, "I don't know what you like about her"--meaning me--"she's just an attack dog!" I never thought of myself as an attack dog and didn't realize my critical and/or sarcastic comments cause me to come across that way. Basically an introvert who covers her ass in sassy comebacks, I found a freedom on the faceless network of social media. For some reason I was annoyed if somebody posted too obvious or Pollyanna-ish remarks on her status, I tended to shoot them all down with my handy peashooter of unwelcome wisecracks. This lost me a few followers along the way, and, even though I thought I'd learned to tone it down, I still indulge in the uncalled-for slapdown from time to time. When I'm unfriended I seldom think I deserve it.

I found Facebook to be a dandy place to notify friends about my self-published novel. I published pictures of the cover, time and again, and all but begged for people to post reviews on amazon. I created a page just for the book and sent requests all around for people to click on "Like." After I reached a hundred likes and 20-something reviews on amazon, interest tapered off in both places, yet I kept after it. A friend sent me a personal message to stop the relentless plugging of my novel and all but threatened to unfriend me if I didn't. It brought me up short; again I was learning that often I don't come across on Facebook the way I think I do.

I began posting pictures of long gone movie stars and obscure celebrities on their birthdays. I began posting art works from the great masters. Got lots of good responses from those.
I have tried to learn how to refrain from commenting when someone I know is nice posts something I think is pointless. Who named me the boss of everything? I do like to indulge in a critique of awards ceremonies like the Golden Globes, and the Oscars--see my post below--and made the mistake of writing some rather nasty things on an astrology post a few days ago, causing a dear lady I've been following for a couple of years to send me a personal message that I was an asshole. Now, that stung. I apologized for the uncalled for insult, but I felt insulted too. I have to check every day to see if she's unfriended me.

It's all wearing a bit thin. I don't know how much longer I'll enjoy this free-for-all of blather and backslapping (or backstabbing). I don't think I'm doing it because I'm bored, but I wonder if I would be bored if I quit.


  1. Seems to me a true follower of astrology would have understood that your comments were preordained in the stars, therefore you weren't really responsible for them. Unless of course they just failed to interpret the stars properly...which does happen a lot with astrology....

  2. A nice piece. I was wondering this morning if the very valued and treasured friendships I've made on FB properly counterbalance the darkness that one can also experience on FB.

  3. I only friend people I know and whom I genuinely like. It's my way to stay in touch with people I've known years ago and who now live far away. I treasure the contact. Those people don't snipe at me. They may not always agree with what I have to say and that's okay, but they're not mean-spirited about it.

  4. When the Queen in "Snow White" didn't get the answer she wanted to hear from the mirror, after asking it countless times "who is the fairest of them all?" she unfriended it, too! And didn't Narcissus drown after falling in love with his FB picture? This Facebook thing goes back probably to Eve taking a byte out of that Apple!