I remember the catchy Neil Sedaka pop tune well. I can hum it in my head and know most of the words. It popped into my mind yesterday as I consciously uncoupled with Facebook. They say people have their social media platform of choice. Donald Trump likes Twitter, for example. Certain professionals like LinkedIn. Instagram is entertaining. Etc etc. My choice go to was Facebook.
In the beginning it was hilarious and interesting and disturbing (an entire rainbow of feelings actually) to reconnect with people that have crossed your path in life. The older you are the more people you’ve met and the more “friends” you could accumulate by request. You could see all stages of your life in the icons of your friends. Hundreds of them. Some you haven’t laid eyes on in dozens of years.
Then you could spend hours “trolling and scrolling” through their photos and posts. Like a creepy stalker or voyeur. You’d think to yourself: wow. They look good (or bad). Wow. They’ve done well (or not). Wow. They’ve got an interesting life (or not). And you wonder what impression they have of you (or not). You check out their travels and other adventures and insert yourself into their spectrum. You imagine what it would be like to still be (really) connected and in touch. Instead of imaginary speculation. You see some posts and feel emotions (regret, jealousy, admiration, repulsion …) and decide to post your own to counteract. A silent (but public) protest or camaraderie.
Many things about Facebook are positive. Who doesn’t like getting hundreds of “likes” or birthday wishes. Warm fuzzies right?? Seeing grandkids or other joyful pictures. Cute puppies and baby elephants. Yummy recipes. Local events. All good positive social interactions.
But then there’s the dark side.
Sales gimmicks. The “friend” who’s hocking their wares relentlessly. Every two seconds. You name it you can buy it. Facebook has become the buy/sell forum for everything. With the addition of “marketplace “ you can search for things you really need: candles, oils, tools, clothes, cleaning products, spices … More junk. But that’s by choice. The endless blasts from “friends” on your feed is nauseating. God forbid you like a post or comment on their regular posts .. now you’ve opened the door to a discussion. And when you don’t interact appropriately you get the definitive “I’ll PM you!” Ugh.
The Tipsters. These friends have a tip for everything. The stuff you can do with apple cider vinegar! Hacks for peeling garlic or getting bird poop off your car. Straightening your hair, teeth, finances, mother, insurance …. DIY everything with a QTip. You too can be Macgyver. You can also be Warren Buffet. Adele. Betty Crocker. Martha Stewart. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Pick an icon and find a hack video. If you can endure the pop ups inserted every 3 seconds.
The Hipsters. These friends go way beyond tree hugging. They are planet do-gooder junkies. They post infinite articles and pictures (largely out of context or out of touch) of global indiscretions. Public shaming for all kinds of crimes against humanity. In constant search of the cause célèbre that is the viral trend of the day. Hopping on and off bandwagons at will. A dizzying merry go round of causes.
The provocateurs. These friends will pick an argument over anything. Their “threads” are often more hilarious when you check on their adversaries and can see they are obviously fake people. Really? Fake Facebook profiles?? Yes. It’s a thing. Engaging in a virtual argument is the most ridiculous undertaking. Think about it. No one wins. You might get a like or two. Big deal.
The lost dogs. I can’t believe the number of lost, stolen, abused dogs. Seriously. It’s staggering the amount of dogs (and all animals for that matter) who go missing. What??? And people (like me) who share to be helpful only to have another friend point out that the post is 3 years old or the dog has been reunited or the post was faked to annoy an ex. Whoa. Way too much research required.
The thinly veiled jabs. Ok. You’re passed off. Hurt. Embarrassed. Pick a feeling. So you find a meme that feeds into your emotion meter and post. Some of them are thought provoking while others are annoying and even pathetic. “I have the best daughter in the world …. like and share if you do too….. “. “Your real friends are still there even you can’t see them. “ please. It’s the ones that deliver a hidden (or not) meaning that you know us going to be seen by the person you intended … totally passive aggressive. Sad as it’s usually mom/daughter. Or girlfriend/girlfriend. Publicly putting your shit out there. I’m grateful my mom doesn’t own a digital device. I don’t think she even knows about Facebook. “I’m blessed”.
The guilters. These are the internet money launderers. For a worthy cause of course. It was genius (in a nefarious way) for Facebook to help you set up a donation scheme for your birthday. Seriously. Gross. Never mind the ongoing stream of “Go Fund Me” for everything. It’s so blatant and pervasive I think somewhere in the deep recesses a percentage funnels back to Hilary Clinton and her diabolical foundation.
The politicos. This has gotten to be the biggest scourge on line and like an out of control weed on Facebook. It’s social … everyone knows the golden rule of social engagement: no politics or religion. Find a group of like minded people and have at it. You’re not going to sway a political discussion on Facebook. You just alienate and annoy. Whether you like Trump/Trudeau/Putin/Ford/teachers union whoever or not, you’re not changing someone’s allegiance via a snarky post. Or cruel/funny meme. In fact your propaganda is making the opposition dig in more. The very divisiveness you’re berating you’re also perpetuating. Ironically.
The hacksters. Don’t accept another friend request ….I’ve been hacked. Who gets hacked and why? I’m not friends with anyone worth the effort of hackers in my opinion. Hackers and scammers are in the same pile of dung in my view. We’ve all seen the dire warnings of posting vacation photos … you’ll let every criminal know your house is up for grabs. Virtually casing the joint; how clever. Crooks will always find the slimy loophole and slither through it. And don’t forget to copy and paste the instructions on how to trick the Facebook algorithms so all 300 of your friends can be visible. Really??
The optimists. Share this heart for all the moms and dads in heaven. Like and share the pile of money and more will come your way. Pray for first responders/dog walkers/fishermen/ retail clerks/ ….. pick one. You’re a cruel heartless beast if you don’t like and share the puppy/starving child/ koala in the forest fire/ nurse doing her job. The motivational memes are abundant, but motivation is in the eye of the beholder: good things come to those who work hard for them? Or who sign the change.org petition for increasing financial benefits or bail outs? Or who share the post?
Corona. It’s the frenzy to beat all frenzies. Whether you are in the hysterical shut the world down or the conspiracy theory or the “this doesn’t apply to me anyway” camp there’s fodder for you on Facebook. All of the categories previously mentioned above are now firmly ensconced in the feeding frenzy. Sellers are hocking every prophylactic you need to stay safe. Tipsters are letting you in on every safety hack for your family. The politicos can’t finger point fast enough or frequently enough. Fake news is rampant. Facebook has become a portal for insanity and fear and illogical thinking. Once informative groups are now snitch lines for neighbours against neighbours. Talk about a rabbit hole!
So I’m out. I’m breaking up with Facebook and most mass media. Ignorance is bliss after all.
My real “friends” will know exactly how to find me. Peace out.