I think it’s the toxic onslaught of Jenner-related posts in the last few weeks, but my time on Facebook has not been pleasant lately. I won’t be tweeting Mark Zuckerberg with my whining complaints, or sending nasty comments. It’s not Facebook per se (What IS Facebook? Is it software? Is it an app? Is it a website?) it’s what’s ON Facebook. I love the IDEA of Facebook, and I’ve endured its multiple new algorithms without giving up and jumping ship to Twitter (I’m not pithy enough), or *gasp* Instagram (I’m not cool enough).
But Facebook is getting on my nerves. If you know me you know that’s pretty much a first. I don’t know if my FB friends have become dramatically more annoying or if my post-hysterectomy hormones are making me crotchety, or if the latest algorithm is pushing the most irritating posts to the top of my feed, or if I’ve suddenly become hypersensitive to what I read, but for the last few weeks I just feel perturbed by Facebook.
Oh, I’m not talking about the new baby pictures from my friends, or the funny memes, or the birthday greetings, or the “I got a new job!” updates or the posts from my friend who married the wine merchant and travels to Paris multiple times a year… yeah, she’s my jealousy test. (Can you REALLY rejoice with those who rejoice, or are you just faking it?) I don’t even mind the “this is what’s for dinner” posts or the “I just exercised” posts (I’m guilty of the latter, it keeps me accountable).
Seriously, I like (no, I really LIKE, not just click on the button) your memes, and your recipes, and your weather reports, and your accomplishments and weddings and new babies, and your vacay pics. (OK, the vacay pics might make me jealous, but that’s not your problem, it’s mine). I like your updates on your pets and your kids. I like knowing you’re out there, living your life, while I’m here, living mine. It makes me feel connected, and that’s nice.
I don’t even mind when you share your failures and struggles. Those times when the excrement has hit the fan and you need prayer. When life dealt you a lousy hand and you just want someone to notice. Yeah, I understand, even though sometimes it makes me cry, and sometimes it makes me angry on your behalf.
It’s the onslaught of copied and pasted knee-jerk reactionary posts tha are poisoning my Facebook feed. Not just the “I have such and so opinion” posts… those are fine. It’s the manipulative opinionated posts that are driving me to click that X in the upper right-hand corner. You know the ones I’m talking about… they’re specifically designed to get a reaction, to twist your emotions, not just to share information. Here are some examples:
1. If you like (fill in the blank… veterans, soldiers, the flag, the National Anthem, yoga, Jesus, frogs, whales, stray dogs) you must share or like this post. No… no I mustn’t. Don’t tell me what to do! I avoid those posts even when I agree with their message, just because they are so manipulative.
2. If you believe in (fill in the blank) you MUST share this post. This one is particularly aggravating. I believe in Jesus, but I don’t have to share some meme on Facebook to announce that. To borrow a fiction writing rule, SHOW don’t TELL. If you want to share your faith on social media, come up with a better method, please.
3. Political posts, of all genres. Seriously… are you sharing that post about the Kardashians (or anyone remotely connected to them) because you are genuinely concerned about their eternal souls, or because you want to jump on the bandwagon with your valuable opinion about big butts… Oh, wait, is that not the latest big Kardashian money-maker? See how that works? I know, I’m a cynic. Seriously, if you’re that distraught over the moral condition of humanity, get off “the Facebook” and go pray, or send “good vibrations” like Pope Francis suggested, for those who don’t pray.
4. Things you wouldn’t show your mother/boss/pastor/children. Because, DUH. Along the same lines, if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, why would you think it’s OK to share on Facebook? And that applies to people you know personally AND people you don’t know. In other words, if you don’t have something NICE to say, keep your mouth shut and your fingers off the share button.
5. Super-sad news stories that don’t need to be shared because sharing the tears accomplishes nothing productive. (Particularly true if it concerns dogs and small children.) I’m not talking about PERSONAL posts that are sad, I’m talking about the news story that ran six months ago on a station halfway across the country. It’s just morbid. Stop it.
6. Super-scary news stories that don’t need to be shared because:
A. Most of them aren’t even true (please, peeps, FACT-CHECK before you share… it’s the Internet equivalent of wearing a condom. Don’t spread the deception disease!)
B. Will sharing this terrifying news that your lipstick is likely to kill you actually BENEFIT anyone? And, even if you think it will, has this information already circulated around the Internet six gajillion times? Just because it’s new to you doesn’t mean it’s NEW. In fact, it probably made the chain email loops a decade or so ago and some bright individual decided to resurrect it and post it on Facebook.
Keep sharing your thoughts and your news about your day and where you went for lunch and pictures of your new house/car/iguana and interesting things you see and read, and weird stories about your crazy, wild, wonderful life, and when you’re depressed or sick or ready to throw in the towel, and when you’re on top of the world because you lost 10 pounds or quit smoking or won the lottery, or whatever.
Maybe we all need an Emily Post Guide to Etiquette for Facebook. For the whole Internet. Maybe that would help. I don’t know, but in the meantime, I might go check out Instagram. Supposedly, it’s all about the filters…