Thursday, August 22, 2013


It seems to me that the season for annoying Facebook posts is in full swing. I guess most people on my newsfeed got the memo and as a result, my blocking finger has been getting a good workout. But don't get me wrong. I love me some Facebook, like in need of a 12-step program and twitching when I don't get my fix kind-of-love. I sometimes catch myself checking it compulsively on my phone throughout the day and am shocked by how cemented the memory of the action is in my muscles when I catch myself reaching down and opening the app before I even know what's consciously taking place.  And then I remember all the douche baggery that keeps taking place there and wonder where my local FBA is (Facebookers anonymous). Luckily, all the great people on my newsfeed balance the scales.

From what I've gathered, it seems as if there are three breeds of sharing that exist in the Facebook world:

  • Those who portray a flawless and oftentimes ridiculously exciting or perfect existence. (seriously, they're parasailing in Grand Cayman again? And how did they maintain their perfect makeup mid-air above the water while taking a selfie?)
  • Those who vomit every last sordid and awful detail of their lives-including detailed medical and relationship information- and in the process make themselves look beyond miserable (perhaps they are-but most of the time you conclude that no one is possibly THAT miserable).
  • And the others, the neutral folks (because their participation is either limited or portrays pretty run-of-the-mill, boring life stuff, like getting an oil change or weeding-YAWN.)

As for me, because I try to have boundaries and not use FB as my personal diary, on most days I fall into the last category. But I realize that to some, at least from the outside looking in, it may appear as if I'm actually more in line with the first (without the parasailing), for unless you're willing to portray the whole picture, your life will almost always look glossed to a high shine. While I complained about weeding my backyard and posted from my professional family pictures (all of which were set in fields aglow in sunlight), no one was privy to the fact that they were taken just a few days after I learned I had lost our baby and the day before my D and C. And people, without any background beyond that, begin to believe that this is my reality, that weeds may actually be my biggest issue and that I spend more than a fair majority of my time laughing in sun-drenched fields, petting horses with my family without a care in the world.

That's the problem with 'socializing' through media. The information you receive is so selective and therefore misleading. I mean, I guess in 'regular' socializing this is also the case to an extent. You need to edit depending on your audience, of course, but in a face-to-face situation, there are no professional photography cover photos or witty, insightful quotes that make you look like the next Maya Angelou. And Facebook runs the risk of making you feel even more alone because while everyone seems to be parasailing in the Grand Cayman on your newsfeed, you take a look around at your life and it seems at that moment like you're the only one barely keeping their head above water (except for the random needy miserable status update person--if it weren't for them, well, then, things would look really grim).

So, at the risk of sounding like I'm whining about the very thing I'm addicted to (really, I do enjoy it more than I hate it), I figured I'd list a few of my long-standing pet peeves:

Social Media Rules

The rules to social media etiquette are beyond baffling, right?!? I ask (somewhat desperately): who do you friend, who do you not friend and mostly, who do you UN-friend??

I have a number of people I've blocked FOREVER, as in, I've not seen them in my newsfeed since almost day one of my FB use (which is going on almost 6 years). It's almost as if we've never been friends, so why continue to actually BE friends on FB? Well, because some people actually consider a friend request denial or an unfriending akin to a literal slap in the face and quite frankly, with all of the customizing features (blocking, selecting audiences for status updates), I'd rather avoid that drama.  My question always is, is it worth it? most times, it's not.

Maybe avoiding drama isn't a good enough reason to be strong-armed into maintaining people on my friends list, but this stuff is not black-andwhite. That's not to say that I don't 'clean house' from time-to-time, either. I have no issue taking someone off who I've not been in any contact with and probably will never run into again. Most of those I've maintained are people who I have a high chance of interacting with again.

Personally, though, you'd have to be a pretty close friend or family member for your unfriending to move me at all.  Speaking of which, my cousin (who I'm not close to at all) unfriended me and his sister (who he is close to) on FB in November because of our politics. And I wasn't overzealous in my political posts. I literally posted once about my chosen candidate. At the end of the day, I found it completely amusing that he would do that, but didn't take offense at all.  Some people, however, do.

The Reciprocator:

Here's the thing: if I like or comment on your status update or picture, it's because I really genuinely like it, not because I feel I owe you anything since you liked mine. That's also the way I feel about blog commenting. I will not get offended if you don't reciprocate. What I've seen happen frequently, however, is that when I like someone's update or picture, they all of a sudden start liking ALL of mine when they had not previously done so. (This only applies to acquaintances, not close friends) Eventually, if I don't reciprocate on all of their updates, their likes/comments eventually fade away. Perhaps this is the media version of the reciprocity we normally engage in with normal social situations and I'm missing the point. But personally, it strikes me as a little juvenile. If you don't find what I've posted all that interesting, then, by all means, don't like/comment!


And do you know what one of my biggest pet peeves is?

The vague status update. I looked it up and there's actually a name for it: vague-booking. These postings (i.e. "So sad! But can't talk about it!") request their audience to beg them for more information, which they almost always get around to after tens of, "what's wrong?" "what's going on?" replies.  I have a feeling they're sitting behind their computer screen hitting refresh and only after having reached a number of replies that satisfies their need for attention do they finally 'relent' and spill the beans. I have a number of multiple offenders (who I know in real life did not get the attention they wanted from Mommy and Daddy- and it shows). I have one request: if you have something to say, just say it. Or don't. Pick one.

Veiled Bragging:

I have a few people in my friend's list (minor acquaintances) who engage in veiled bragging.  There's a fine line between sharing personal triumphs of real value and bragging about things that are distasteful and lack meaning, like how much money you have. For example, one of the friend-of-a-friend peeps on my list always finds a way to work the square footage of his gargantuan house or something that demonstrates the level of his personal wealth into his updates. He stops just short of listing his bank account balance. But he does so in a way that does not make it the focus of the update.  He 'slips' the reference in. Anyway, if you wanna toot your own horn, go for it, but make sure it's something that's meaningful and won't leave a bad taste in anyone's mouth.

The 'Elderly' Selfie:

Everyday I look at my newsfeed and I am barraged by a constant stream of self pictures taken from cell people who are my age. I am 35, people, not 15. One of them posts nearly half a dozen on a daily basis, everything from on her way to work to sitting in her cubicle. If she has a new pair of sunglasses, a new dress, or if she's reading a book to her kids, well, she takes a selfie. She's not the only one, either. I have a rule that I do not friend past or present students and something tells me that, despite having almost 20 years on them, their newsfeed probably doesn't look much different than mine. I still see the poses, the 'fish' lips, the bathroom selfies, and, yes, the glamor shots from above that happen to capture the squeezed together cleavage. And I swear that for the most part, I have a classy friends list, but some people just can't resist! Hey, if you need a profile pic and need the assistance of a selfie to get it, then by all means, go wild! But if you do not have the word 'teen' attached to anywhere in your age description, then hourly selfies are probably a little excessive. Just sayin'.

The Preggos:

I mentioned before that beyond the douche baggery, Facebook has become a place of some pain for me as it seems as though everyone is pregnant (or just had their baby). Old co-workers, family, you name it--there's something in the water (and I obviously have an industrial strength filter). And as you know, nothing brings out the status updates like bumps and ultrasounds.  My favorite: someone who took a selfie of their 'baby bump' from above-- in the bathroom--while doing fish lips. Wow. I think marrying all of my pet peeves into a single picture deserves some type of award!

I feel like I'm missing a ton of pet peeves here. And I also feel like I sound beyond snarky, but I know I'm not alone in these . Nearly every conversation I've had about FB seems to snake around to at least some of these topics. I also recognize that FB is forcing us to understand a corner of the social universe that is completely foreign to us and for a girl who is still trying to figure out the rules for 'regular' social contact, I'm even more baffled here. Still, I can't help open that app. Damn you, FB! My friend and foe...


AnotherDreamer said...

I'm totally with you, on all points.

The elderly selfie cracked me up. A has an aunt who posts teen-posed selfies all time and I just don't get it. I do post selfies with V, but usually with the intent of a new profile pic... because I can't seem to post a photo of just me anymore. Call it a weakness?

Melissa G said...

I have an ongoing love hate relationship with FB. I think, like you, I fall into the run-of-the-mill category as a poster and as you may or may not have noticed I'm on a bit of a hiatus.

But I am different in the sense that I will not accept friend requests from everyone. i.e. Chick I went to middle school with, that I never really liked or had a true friendship with? Time to let it go sweetie - cause we haven't talked in 16+ years (gasp), and I'm not going to start now. - Seriously. Tho, I rarely un-friend, and just choose to hide the few people I feel obligation to be "friends" with, but cannot stand...

Selfies with your kids or pets are TOTALLY acceptable!v :)

Also, I keep forgetting to tell you this, but Shelby, you are fabulous writer. I really enjoy your posts.

xoxo, *friend*. ;-)

Anonymous said...

This is brilliant and I totally agree with you on everything. Sadly I find myself doing exactly what you're doing on your phone... with the thumb going to the FB app more than multiple times a day. Not what I'm proud of. My biggest pet peeve is the one you descxribed about saying something to entice people to ask questions about what's wrong. Enough of that already. Oddly I haven't seen a lot of elderly selfies...

Claudia said...

All of this is so, so, so very true.

That's a big part of the reason I have a whole separate facebook account as Claudia Chapman... and I almost never check the facebook account for my 'real' self!

Shelby said...

Selfies are totally fine! I think it's the frequency (and content) that make them difficult to digest. I think we can all agree that even daily selfies are excessive (weekly, ok? maybe) and anything involving bathrooms, cleavage or sultry poses are acceptable only for the 20 and under crowd!

And, I realize I might have given the wrong impression. I definitely don't accept friend requests from everyone--only those I see on a regular basis. If I haven't seen you in years or especially if I've never met you, don't bother. If there's a high chance we'll see each other again, maybe.