...and we're back.
It got me to thinking about something that I think about fairly regularly and I've surely discussed with a few of you (as if there's more than "a few" of you reading this) before. This whole obsession of living your life through Facebook is not good. Facebook is meant to be something that complements regular life and is nothing more than a mild distraction with interesting content because you (presumably) know the people generating all the new material. It's just something we "do", but for some, it has veered dangerously close to being who we "are".
Some of what has brought me to this conclusion is nothing more than the same annoying things you see when you look at Facebook (and if you don't have a Facebook, that's fine, so long as you're not someone that spends more time talking about not being on Facebook than those on it spend talking about it). The epic problem comes from people using their ability/right/power to post inane garbage on Facebook to do exactly that. But there's another kind of Facebook garbage that is a little more rare and perplexing than the simply utterly useless garbage. It's the garbage that actually makes you think to yourself, "why are they posting this and what response are they going for?"
These people put way too much of themselves into their Facebook-ing. They divulge relationship details, they bear their heart, they express despair...they filter nothing. There are surely people that see this as a good thing since such strong emotions are best not left bottled up and if Facebook is an outlet for that, so be it. Thing is, there's all of us on the receiving end of this stuff and it's a bit irresponsible of the sender of such messages to just throw it all out there when obviously not all the people we're friends with on Facebook are the kind of friends we want to have this kind of interaction with. For example, I am likely to approach a conversation a little differently if I'm talking to a close current friend that knows me on a day-to-day basis than I would if I'm talking to my middle school social studies teacher.
It's just such a big burden you're putting on the people reading your drama, when many of those people are just on Facebook for casual entertainment purposes. Is that how you want your serious life issues viewed? As someone's distraction from a slow day at work or cure for insomnia? Not that everyone would see it that way. Some people might really see your problems as a cry for help, but oh wait, we haven't spoken to each other in 10 years and live in different states. Or better yet, we've actually never met and we ended up as Facebook friends because you mistook me for someone else with the same name. It's a good thing I now know the sordid details or your life, or at least the sordid details of what you spend your time doing or thinking.
Some of you might be thinking at this point, "dude, you just need to de-friend all these strange overly-emotional types you're talking about." Oh, but that perfectly illustrates my next point. I have been on Facebook for almost 7 years. I have a modest, but perfectly respectable, 600+ friends on there. And I have never once de-friended someone. Why? Because when you start de-friending people, you have crossed that line into taking Facebook way too seriously. Perhaps there are exceptions to this, such as de-friending an ex-significant other as a form of catharsis, but in general the rule applies. If you consciously consider the process of "cleaning out" your Facebook friends list as some sort of statement, you've got much bigger issues to worry about. Why? If someone has access to these deep recesses of your personal being, you're sharing too much on the internet. This should be the first sign you're over-doing it and missing the purpose. At the very least, you just need to set your privacy settings accordingly. I can't tell you what privacy settings to set because I've never checked my own. Why? Because I share nothing on Facebook that there is anyone I wouldn't want to see it. Do I necessarily want complete strangers seeing my profile information? No, but would I be worried if one did? No, again.
This may sound as though I'm ranting in response to someone de-friending me on Facebook. Not the case. Occasionally I'll stumble upon the realization that someone has de-friended me, which is usually the result of me suddenly noticing that there's less inane babbling on my newsfeed than I'm used to. When this happens, my first thought is, "Why did this happen?". After about 0.47 milliseconds of that thought, a sense of relief and contentment settles over me. Why? Because right then I know there are people that obsess over Facebook far more than me and that I'm actually among the Facebook users that have the least riding on it. I cannot even imagine sitting down and making a dedicated effort to prune my friends list. This hardly means that I'm good friends (or even know) everyone on my friends list, but it does mean I simply don't care enough to bother. I would honestly rather spend the time staring at a blank wall (or writing a rambling blog entry) that I might otherwise use going through the mental process of making cuts.
Is there a agreed upon method for that sort of thing? Is there an algorithm that computes if someone is worthy of being your Facebook friend based on how long you've known each other, how often you see each other or whether you were even friends in the first place? This is especially vexing when it was the other person that be-friended you in the first place. It's like they really were just using you for their own satisfaction or self-assurance for a time, then they dropped you from their life, or at least their life as it appears on a computer screen with a log-in name and password. Then again, these are the people that invest far too much in Facebook in the first place.
So, ladies and gentlemen of Facebook, pour your hearts out and feel free to de-friend away, even de-friend me if you wish. Just know that while I may have over 600 friends in the virtual world, I will eventually find out and that sly grin that comes over my face (after 0.47 seconds) will be the look of me realizing that I have just destroyed you.
10 months ago