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Wednesday
Feb052014

Thoughts and Observations, in Random Order, After Nearly Four Years on Facebook

1.  Selfies: If they can’t be eliminated altogether (the ideal), they should at least be limited to those which are to some degree amusing, quirky, or otherwise remotely interesting. I’m not talking about your profile pic (although those of you who change yours 9 times a week need to be heavily medicated). “This is me right before heading out the door to go to work in pretty much the same manner I’ve done every Monday through Friday for the past 15 years, except this time I’ve dyed my hair a slightly different shade of dark brown and am wearing an off-white scarf rather than a pearl-white one,” for instance, would fail to meet the standard. “This is me half a second before impact/being mauled by baboons/accidentally swallowing a shot glass” would be more the thing.

More broadly, before posting anything, ask yourself the following Very Important Question: Is there even the slightest chance anyone, anywhere–including that hermit I haven’t seen since the sixth grade who hasn’t left his parents’ basement or had his skin exposed to natural sunlight in over two decades–will find this the least bit interesting, or is it merely my inner voice being outwardly expressed for reasons still little understood by behavioral scientists? There’s a reason it’s an inner voice, and I’m old enough to remember a time when it was judged perfectly acceptable to have unexpressed thoughts. See, all of our lives contain mundane, inconsequential details.  It is perhaps the one thing we all have most in common. And what do those mundane details themselves all have in common? They’re uninteresting and unworthy of mention. 

2.  Spelling, punctuation, capitalization and grammar matter, even in social media. You ARE being judged if you’ve reached adulthood without mastering the basic conventions of the written form of the language you’ve been speaking your entire life. Yes, we all periodically misspell words, and avoiding occasional subject/verb disagreement and similar slip-ups is impossible even for the highly educated and punctilious. Sometimes especially for those people. Still, if you can spend 5 minutes composing a post, is there some reason you can’t devote an extra 30 seconds to proofreading it? Yeah, I know–I’m a jerk.  But I’m actually trying to help. Most people aren’t semi-literate oafs, so why come across as one if it can be avoided with a trifling effort? Oh, and while I’m on the subject, please repeat after me: IF IT’S A PLURAL NOUN, THERE’S NO APOSTROPHE. IF IT’S POSSESSIVE, THERE IS. Moreover, quotation marks have only a few appropriate uses. If you don’t know what they are, you’re probably misusing them. It maybe unfare, but peeple think your stoopid if you dont right english good.

3.  Single-subject/one-dimensional/extremely narrow interest range posters: ;qlkjvab;;abjk . . . sorry–that was my head hitting the keyboard as I passed out from sheer boredom merely from thinking about you for half a second. I’m reasonably certain they already have websites, chatrooms, and all manner of web-facilitated venues for you to discuss the internal intrigues and doctrinal rifts developing among the membership of the Capricorn Lesbians for Organic Hemp Now! party, upcoming events for the Associated Southwest Douglas County Methodist Alpaca Breeders, and interior design tips for Men with Red-Green Colorblindness and the Women Who Love Them. Such highly specialized interests don’t really belong on a social network of general applicability. I’d give more specific recent examples of what I’m talking about, but I’ve blocked virtually everyone who does this. You needn’t bare it all in order to show us that there’s something–anything–more to you than your favorite esoteric fetish.

Incidentally I include in this category the folks I’ve dubbed “political nuts,” which are those for whom all is political. And I absolutely include those I agree with a hundred percent of the time.  I don’t care if I think you’re right; not only is there much, much more to life than politics, most of the good bits have nothing to do with that wretched subject. This isn’t to say, of course, that it’s not an important topic. As citizens of a republic where the people are sovereign, obviously we should be having frequent and lively conversations about how best to ensure our government–which, after all, works for us, even if it frequently needs reminding of this basic fact–is as honest, transparent, responsive to our needs, protective of our rights and attendant to its duties as any institution devised and administered by fallible human creatures is capable of being.  But some of you dumbasses take life too damned seriously. Post something else. Something personal, spiritual, cute, funny–ANYTHING but politics 24/7.

Here, for lack of a more suitable place in this narrative, I’ll add that we should all be at pains to avoid letting ideological differences wreck friendships. This is a mistake I’ve made a time or two, to my unending regret. Individuals should always take precedence over ideas, since the former are real and the latter mere abstractions. To blazes with isms. Also, as a Christian, I should add that individuals are immortal, and created and loved by God, and this is why we should do our best to love them too no matter how spirited our disagreements. Ideas are ethereal, man-made and, in all likelihood, every bit as flawed and limited as the minds that conceived them. Besides, left or right (I have no use for “center”), we all want the same basic things out of life: Peace, prosperity, and a better world for our children. We certainly disagree, often sharply, over how to attain those things, but there’s no very good reason I can think of to be a dickhead about it. I really need to do a better job following my own advice in this area.

Oh, and workout/nutrition fanatics, especially Crossfitters and “clean eating” weirdos–I don’t know how else to say this, so I’m just going to say it: You’ve joined a cult. We’ll welcome you back into the fold with open arms once you come to terms with this and decide to return to us, but we understand it’s a decision you alone will have to make, and only after you’re ready. Also, you might want to re-read No. 2 on this list, and in the meantime stop posting descriptions of your diet and exercise routines down to the minutest detail. While your intentions are undoubtedly noble, you’re unwittingly causing people to want to brutally murder you with any heavy, blunt object that may come to hand.

4.  Vaguebookers: Just. Stop.

5.  Food picture posters: Ditto. I will give you money. Perhaps even weirder are posters of “food porn”–stock photos of food not actually in the poster’s possession, but which s/he would like to try someday. Yeah, we all like food. Those of us with the good fortune to live in the developed world eat some quantity of it every single day. Get a life.

6.  Oversharers, meaning those who post between 4 and 400 things in a 24-hour period, share anything/everything they’ve ever read that has an html link (and, closely related, those who exclusively post memes, using them as a substitute for ever having to string together words of their own for the purpose of expressing a thought): I’m literally on my knees begging you to cut it out. Use that filter God gave you. It’s called a brain.

7.  Perpetual sad sacks/criers for help: I think you’re sort of missing the point of Facebook, which is to shamelessly exaggerate how awesome your life is, not how much it stinks. Most of us neither have perfectly dismal lives nor perfectly peachy ones, and I’m guessing you’re no exception. Accentuate the positive, people!

8.  “Shamebookers,” meaning anyone who posts things that say “share this if you love your daughter/son/spouse/parents, or you care about public health, or don’t want puppies to be raped” (implying, of course, that none of these can be true if you don’t): Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I actually find myself wanting to physically harm you from time to time. 

9.  Grown-ups who have finally found True Love: I’m being absolutely serious when I say that we’re all happy for you, and equally serious when I say stop grossing us out.  PDAs on Facebook are just as nauseating as literal PDAs. You’re not hormonal adolescents lacking discretion, or for whom there’s no reasonable expectation on the part of others that you should have, by now, acquired basic impulse control. Act your age.

10.  People (of any age) who publicize what should be the private details/drama of your love life: See No. 9.

11.  Argumentative people: Many of you could use a crash course in how to argue. A by no means exhaustive list of what arguing isn’t would consist of  tu quoque, argumentum ad hominem, antiquam/novitam, misericordiam, baculum and populum,(here I’m hoping you’ll entertain yourself looking all of these up), poisoning the well, setting up straw men, creating false dichotomies, verbal diarrhea intended to obfuscate the issue and change the subject with irrelevancies which are non-responsive to the original proposition, and all similar fallacies, red herrings and rhetorical ploys. 

More broadly, congratulations for having a point of view–it places you in a unique community consisting of every human currently living who isn’t in a coma or chronic vegetative state. But not all points of view are created equal, nor are all equally worthy of serious consideration.  Some are the product of hours, days, even years of serious reflection, introspection and the weighing of innumerable considerations which interact with one another in complex ways.  Others result from blind self-interest, ungoverned emotion, or whether or not their proponent happens to have indigestion at the moment.

12.  Controversialists/people who live to stir up conflict, and who love arguing as an end in itself: Seriously, we need fewer goading jackasses like me on Facebook. 

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