|Posted on February 8, 2012 at 6:30 PM|
This whole social networking thing is getting out of control. 800 million people on Facebook?! That means that we are dangerously close to having one out of every seven people on the planet posting pictures of what they're having for dinner. I'm impressed that there 800 million people in the world who know how to turn a computer on. By my experience, only about 10% of the population understands that mailing back the excess funds after receiving a check from a Nigerian prince is a bad idea, maybe less.
Social networking is here to stay and why shouldn't it? Who doesn't want to see which of their classmates got fat or went bald? There are probably other pros to having a presence on the intertubes too, but I can't think of them right now. Unfortunately, there is also the risk of developing narcissistic tendencies, psychological disorders, antisocial behaviors, mania and aggressive tendencies. A report in The Guardian says that Twitter is harder to resist than cigarettes and alcohol. As someone who has succumbed to the siren song of nicotine, I would have gladly set an old lady on fire for a single drag on a heater, but I've almost never felt pyromaniacal because I couldn't read a tweet.
I need to tweet, dammit!
If we're going to survive the profound cultural shift caused by all this interconnectivity, we need to clearly establish what is and what is not acceptable.
You know what I'm talking about. How many times have you logged in to tell the world about your day only to find that someone on your friends list has made the bold move of declaring themselves against something bad. "I believe that bad things are not good. Repost if you agree. I know most of you won't, but my real friends will." This kind of bullshit might as well be followed with, "If you don't send this to ten people in the next twenty four hours you will be cursed with bad luck for seven years." Posts like this not only prey on the guilt of your friends, who are afraid of being seen as in favor of something bad (OMG, if I don't repost, everyone will think I love cancer), it is the ultimate in empty gestures. If you really want to stand up for AIDS research, campaign for equal rights, put an end to childhood obesity or whatever your pet cause is, make a donation. Last time I checked, war widows couldn't deposit Facebook posts in their checking accounts.
Purposefully Vague Posts
I swear to Vishnu, one of my friends posted a frowny face. Nothing more, just colon, hyphen, open parenthesis. Then they sat back and waited for people to ask what the problem was. I can't think of a single more narcissistic thing to do and that includes a rapper naming himself after a deity. I hate to sound like a grade school teacher, but either share with the entire class or shut the hell up. A post like that could just as easily say, "Everyone! Hey! Pay attention to me!" Social networking sites are also the wrong place to make thinly veiled threats or insults to someone you are too chicken shit to name. "You know who you are and what you did." Awesome, the person the post was actually about is either so vain that they think every post is about them or they'll just assume that's directed towards someone else. Meanwhile, the only thing the rest of us will take away from it is that you're a pissy little drama queen who's already on the hunt for the next thing to get upset about.
Airing Dirty Laundry
I have actually seen posts where person A outs person B for giving them an STD. While that may be a worst case scenario, it's not that uncommon to find someone sharing a little too much information. I get that everyone needs to vent from time to time, but I know a great place for that exact purpose. A blog. See, unlike a news feed, which dumps the most recent information in front of someone, whether they want to see it or not, your blog is a place where people have to choose to go so that they can get the latest insights into your life. If you absolutely have to bitch about what an assbag your ex is, why not spare the rest of us from having to filter you out of our page? There is also the option of just keeping it to yourself, but that's pretty unrealistic.
Must. Share. With. EVERYONE.
Declaring Your Undying Devotion
Within the last two years I have seen five people wax poetic about how much they loved their significant other. Without fail, every one of those relationships ended within two months. There's nothing wrong with telling that special someone that you love them, but I'm talking about sonnets declaring a love that is like no other. I get why this happens. As a relationship dies, one person is almost always desperate to keep it from ending. They will claw and scratch at anything to keep from being alone. Unfortunately, these posts are a sure sign that a coupling is in its last gasps. Maybe you can live with pouring your heart out in front of people who don't give a damn, but the real problem comes later when the inevitable bitterness sets in. Of those five people I mentioned earlier, three went on to post things like, "Why can't a man appreciate a good woman when one's right in front of him? I'm over it," or, "Never trust a woman, that's what I've learned." Again, everyone needs to vent, but don't assume that the people on your friends list want to moonlight as amateur therapists.
There is a phenomenon known as "humblebragging" where a person let's people know how amazing their life is seemingly without realizing that they're doing it. This might involve a girl making a post about how she isn't sure if her new hairdo is any good while including a picture of said 'do taken in nothing but a bra. It's like the old saying, "You can lead your friends to your page, but you can't make them compliment you. Unless you show some cleavage." Humblebragging is basically any boast disguised as a complaint or concern. "The chiropractor says my back problems come from sitting on a wallet that's overstuffed with money." An example of someone who understands that subtlety is the name of the game when it comes to bragging is this post that showed up in my "What's Hot" feed in Google+:
It's impossible to appreciate the natural splendor of a California sunset without a Mercedes in the foreground.
I know we're all guilty of being a bad internet neighbor now and then, but we can at least try to be better. I say go ahead and share those pics of your dog, recommend a great video, link to an interesting story, promote yourself if that's what you're into, but remember that not every single thought that stomps through your brain needs to be broadcast.
Now that I've thoroughly denounced everyone, don't forget to click the Facebook "Like" button on the right, visit me on G+, Stumble this post and follow me on Twitter. Shameless, hypocritical self-promotion makes me feel dirty. If anyone needs me I'll be in the shower, crying in the fetal position.