Facebook Status: Engaged
OMG!! Did you see my status?!? I just got engaged!!
The death of real communication
It's quite possible that if you think about it, you can count on one hand the meaningful conversations you have had with friends over the course of the past year. Other than general discussion about work, gossip, and day-to-day life, when was the last time you had a real conversation with a friend about something with deeper meaning or significance?
And maybe that's just not your thing. That's okay, right?
Sure. You probably feel fine about it.
But what about further down the road, when some of those meaningful people are gone from your life?
What if something happens to you and you lay in a bed somewhere, facing your own mortality?
Will you still be satisfied with looking back on a life of edited Facebook statuses, "public face" posts, and drunken photographs, or will you find yourself mourning the loss of times you could have spent soaking up the sun, laying in the grass next to your best friend, talking about where we all came from, or hiking through the country with a backpack and a buddy, marveling at the earth around you? That silent communication is sometimes better than any words can be.
Will you regret not having more alone time, soaking in the tub with a good book, or laying in bed wrapped up in your lover's arms, disconnected from the social media world?
And while we're talking about it, let's talk about the way that we communicate on social networking.
Take time to look around
You know the type--those who post statuses like "I have really good news that I can't quite share yet, but everything's coming up Milhouse!" (sidenote: most people don't say "everything's coming up Milhouse" in these sort of status posts, and if they did I would automatically "like" them, because what about The Simpsons IS NOT awesome?!?)
Why not just post the good news whenever you CAN share it? For some of these statuses, there might be valid reason to Vague-book it first--maybe you're a business professional and you post the first status to pique interest in your upcoming status posts, to ensure that your followers will be paying attention.
*shrugs* Alright. I'll give you that. That's valid.
But what about those posts that read something like as follows: "Man, I hate it when some people say things that you know they said but they pretend like they didn't say" or "Don't you hate it when someone talks behind your back and won't say it to your face?" Now, I can't deny that I have ever done either of these things, and you probably cannot either. But this is passive-aggressiveness. If you want to call someone out, confront them directly. For the most part, I try to do that. I really cannot let things sit unaddressed, so I will push for a confrontation with someone, whether they want it or not. This is not an aggressive or hostile interaction, but merely a curiosity that I must answer because it is nagging at the back of my mind.
Jesus saves (at least, it's easier to say that than to actually DO something)
Holier than thou
These people you probably recognize immediately. You might post something about how tired or stressed you are, or upset, or angry, or anything that isn't pinky-purple-y-bubbly-happy and they come at you with a "give it over to God" response, telling you to "let Jesus heal you" and informing you that they will pray for you.
Thanks. So you're going to sit on your ass and do nothing but talk to an imaginary figure in hopes that my situation or mood gets better? Gee, that's great. No offense, but sometimes you taking the time to look up a funny cat meme to send me does more for me than you telling me that you'll pray for me. If it is a health issue, by all means, yes, pray for someone. Positive energy directed out into the universe on behalf of another cannot be detrimental to the person. But maybe, just maybe, also take the time to directly message the person and tell them that you give a shit about what they are going through. That someone cares.
Who knows? You might be the only one who does. And they will remember that.
Some FBers use their pages to document what seems to be literally every moment of their lives. From what they had for breakfast to their morning T.V. viewing choices to their lunch plate, afternoon workout, and an Instagram of their dinner at that all-you-can-eat buffet with the hashtag #diehappy.
Sure, I might not really care what Joe Schmo ate for breakfast or how many minutes he spent on the treadmill, but if that's what he wants to FB about, that's his prerogative. Sometimes seeing a photo of your dinner just makes me hungry, but other times, I feel happy when I see it, because, hey, I'm a foodie, and good food makes me happy when I ingest it, so it makes me happy to see a friend enjoying delicious fare.
The photos good ol' Joe posts every night from himself smiling at the sports bar and watching whatever sports team is playing may just worry me that he's developed quite the drinking problem, but if that's what Joe wants to post, it's his FB. I can always "unfollow" him if I really don't want to see it, or just scroll past it without comment.
And that's my prerogative.
Judge and jury
The aforementioned type brings to mind the next in the list--the judge-y ones.
You know the ones, those who judge what other people put on Facebook, from their status updates to their family photos to the Instagram pics, the people who mock and make fun of people for one type of status while themselves being just as guilty of a variety of posts that others might make fun of.
The whole premise behind Facebook is pretty self-centered--here's a page all about you and your life, and your followers are given a window into your life via this online portal. It's their choice what they do with it, and some of those followers choose to mock you for it.
And that's fine. Like many a meme says, it really speaks more to who they are than it does say anything about who their target is. These judge-y posts are often also Vague-booking posts--they passive-aggressively judge others publicly without calling them out by name, so that they can secretly laugh at the person. Or publicly laugh at them. Either way, they are laughing at someone, which is really just a pretty cruel activity, no matter what spin you put on it. And unless that person seriously violated you in some way (like an ex who wronged you or someone who abused you or stole from you), it's pretty difficult to justify such behavior. And that's why they Vague-book it. It's easier to do that, because then they cannot be specifically called out for targeting one person while still getting to enjoy the cruel pleasure of laughing at another.
We have, most of us, been guilty of doing this at one point or another, probably, but for most people, it's a person that has wronged them in some way. That's somewhat excusable.
For those who do it just for sadistic pleasure, well, you're probably just kind of an asshole, whether you're open about it or not. :)
The Emotional Over-Sharer
This is the one I am probably most guilty of myself, although technically I do not typically post such statuses on FB. I blog about my personal experiences in travel and with life, and I share those posts on FB. This is really more socially acceptable than over-sharing in statuses, because the blog title in an link just gives you an idea of what it's about, and your followers have the option to click the link or keep scrolling.
For myself, I do this to give my long-distance family and friends a keyhole view into what's going on in my life. They do the same for me, some of them, and I have been able to stay better-connected and more often in contact with my cousins and friends even with several hundred or thousand miles between us. For some of them, I have either an exclusively online or mostly online relationship, because we met only briefly in person or have not yet met. This, for me, is the purpose of social networking. It's real human interaction about real life that cannot be achieved any other way with those individuals unless you have days to travel and money to spend doing it, which for most of us is not feasible.
I know there are those who don't like it, and that's okay. They don't have to read my blogs, and they probably don't bother. Those same people probably expect me to read what they write, and funny enough, I do, because I want to stay connected to what's going on in their lives, and I care about what they're going through.
This doesn't make them better or me better. It's just a personal choice we make, just like the Vague-bookers or Judge-y asses or Pray for You-ers.
We have all been guilty of each of these, most likely, at least once.
No matter the status, remain engaged
Whether you like what someone posts or not, stay engaged. You can unfollow them, but shoot them a message sometime to see how they are doing. I have friends who do that for me, and it's appreciated.
It's nice to know that people care. Because when you fail to reach out in real life and you don't even bother to maintain a connection with your "loved ones" on social networking, it becomes pretty apparent that you really don't care about anyone who cannot help you get a step ahead in life, like your boss or co-workers, the friends who get you drunk or hook you up with free stuff, your significant other and the family you are around on a regular basis. While it is good to maintain those connections and keep them strong, if you fail to reach out beyond that which benefits you and only you comes across as pretty selfish. And eventually those who take the time to reach out to you, if you don't once in a while extend a hand or a call back, will stop reaching. Our human connection with one another is already dwindling. Don't facilitate that.
While I would be entirely happy if all stores were run by robots (as long as it didn't translate to job loss--all cashiers became robot repair mechanics or something), we don't want to lose our humanity.
Liking posts about some random stranger's good news or showing up for a fundraiser for some friend of a friend is awesome. Do that, if you do. Keep doing it. But stay in contact with the people who take the time to stay connected to you.
Below is an interesting video I saw about that today. It actually inspired this blog.
Connected but alone? TED Talk
Robots will take over the world
If we let our humanity die, we might as well just be robots.
I'll leave you with some humor to lighten the mood, courtesy of Jemaine and Bret, also known as The Flight of the Conchords.