This week marks the one year anniversary of my tenacious and unrelenting participation in that vile, habit-forming procrastination tool known as Facebook. Luckily, my involvement has been limited to the shallow platitudinal aspect, as I have yet to be Zuckered into actually buying stock, but nonetheless… Feel free to congratulate me and send me expensive gifts in recognition of my enduring perseverance through this difficult time.
I have thus far successfully avoided other social media, though I am continually pressured to join the likes of LinkedIn, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Quechup, Yammer, CafeMom, BlackPlanet, Frühstückstreff, etc. I am also regularly badgered by my Wisconsin friends to start tweeting but am a tad fearful of Twitter, mainly because I don’t understand the lingo. #hashtags.
It has been said that Einstein himself discovered social media via his calculations regarding the disappearance of time. While this may or may not be true, I do have Facebook friends who, had they not concentrated so much effort on becoming the mayor of Farmville, could be in the midst of writing their sixth novel—assuming they had taken time away to build a home after obtaining their PhD. I would get rid of my own Facebook page, but my password will probably be the only thing at my retirement that resembles Social Security.
If you are under a social rock or perhaps old enough to remember that Gerald Ford is not a 4-door sedan and you want to start your own Facebook account, permit me educate you as to what a middle-aged milquetoast can expect by sharing a half-dozen observationary observations regarding this so-called book of Faces that I have gleened over this past twelvemonth (yes, that is a word):
- Actual participation is low.
While the number of those who have a Facebook page is measured at just over a gazzillion, those who regularly interact barely equal the number people who have paid to see an Eddie Murphy movie since 1988. The rest are casual observers, logging in to check up on friends and family while successfully avoiding the unseemly option of actually talking to them. Often they are like a black-clad on-line ninja-man, tip-toeing in and out without saying anything to anybody, making you wonder if they are real person or just an e-male.
- Men don’t talk—except about sports.
There are of course exceptions to this, but much as in life, when men do talk it is about the meaningless drivel they are comfortable with in order to avoid confrontation or appearing overly sensitive—even if it’s off topic. For example, a status might read, “Weekending in Chicago with my BFF!” with a list of following well-wishing comments from female friends. The guy will inevitably chime in, “The White Sox are terrible!” While the truth of his statement may not be in question, they are not nearly as bad as the Cubs.
- People like to tell you what to do.
Friends are always trying to get you to ‘like’ this or ‘share’ that and guilt is a favored catalyst. A typical post is a photo of a one-legged veteran draped in a flag who is saving a baby seal for his daughter he hasn’t seen in three years with the caption, “Like and share unless you are a hateful bigot.” Sorry, but not clicking my mouse does not mean I am un-American, nor does it mean I hate my sister, nor does it mean I don’t remember what an 8-track is. Stop manipulating me! ‘Like’ and share this blog post if you agree.
- Everything is fine.
Outside of occasional illness or back trouble, publicizing a problem with which one is truly struggling is taboo. With the exception of perhaps General Petraeus, just once I’d like someone to post what their real issues are. It seems to me that even with relationships founded on kiddie-pool shallowness, members can share their foibles and still fit in with the social networking atmosphere just by giving them a humorous bent. I have found that any post can be lightened up considerably with the simple use of “Haha jk lol ;)” at the end. For example, “Just found drug paraphernalia under my kid’s bed. Looks like our relationship is going to pot! Haha jk lol ;)” or “Boy is our marriage on the rocks—just like my alcoholic husband’s scotch! Haha jk lol ;)”
- Certain topics are off limits.
As with the last point, superficiality is the key to a lasting relationship. Call it social media bias, but any conversation that can be perceived as controversial or challenging is to be shunned like a Jehovah’s Witness with a Marlboro. So far, I have not seen any posts about abortion. This is probably because nothing kills a conversation like a good abortion joke. Theology, science, or philosophy might be mentioned in passing but are not discussed because as a group we are too stupid. Politics are occasionally kicked around, but the number of minds changed based upon political postings is outnumbered even by day-trade millionaires.
- It is largely uninteresting
As a result of 4) and 5) above, social networking generally reeks of banality. …As if the one thing I’m wondering about the girl I crushed on in high-school is what a picture of her dinner might look like or how clinical her obsession is with her morning coffee. All stalking aside, if I wanted that kind of insipid bromide, I would subscribe to People Magazine.
Looking back over my list it seems that, in short, if you want to know what it’s like to be on Facebook, take note…It’s just like going to church. Haha jk lol 😉