Ah, facebook. A great way to stay in touch with loved ones and people we sort of know from high school. An excellent way to spread messages we feel are important and promote events. And a word that is always lower-case for some reason and hasn't been added to spell-check databases yet even though people say it practically more than they say "hello" or "fuck!"
If you have a facebook account, logging in and scrolling through your feed is almost certainly a daily thing. For some it's a compulsion that must be fed every twenty minutes. When I didn't have internet access at home and would only check facebook when visiting my parents or a friend, I didn't miss it at all. Not one bit. Yet since getting the world wide web in my own dwelling, I find myself 'liking' and commenting for a hefty chunk of time most days.
A lot of times facebook is fun. Oh! A clever meme! Ooh! A funny comic! Yay! George Takei is posting a lot of stuff today!
But sometimes a quick scroll down my feed leaves me dissatisfied - or worse - feeling like I wasted my time! "There's nothing good on facebook today!" I'll lament. I used to say that about television back when I only had five channels. Also that was back when I used to actually watch television.
While I never fully expect to be enlightened or entertained by facebook, there's almost always at least something that makes me think, makes me chuckle, or at least makes me click 'like' because that only takes half a second. But there's some things I constantly see in my feed that I wish would just go away. I'm sure many reading this feel the same way about:
1. The Grumpy Cat Meme
I laughed the first time I saw it. Chuckled the second time I saw it. By the third, fourth, and fifth I was indifferent. Now I'm fucking sick of it.
In the 80s or early 90s, a photo of a grumpy cat would be printed on a poster with something like "Oh great! It's Monday again!" on it, and people who worked in offices would buy it and put it up in their cubicles.
But this is 2013. We have the internet now, and we refuse to let jokes die! I must have seen the same meme - with the same picture of the same cat! - about 200 times in the last few weeks. Yeah, it's a funny picture of a miserable-ass cat. But do I really need to see it every damn time I sign on to facebook? Most of the time it's just a similar joke to what I've already seen with slightly different wording or a slightly different grumpy cat. Enough already! There's other pictures of other animals, and there's other jokes to be made!
2. Like if You Love Your Mom/Grandma
Yes, I love my mom. She's one of the best people I know (and I'm not just saying that 'cause she's my mom). My grandmothers are both dead, but I love the memories I have of them. Step-grandma Betty is still alive, but she's a drunken bag of gross so I don't count her as a grandma. Naturally the first time I saw a picture of a motherly type nurturing a non-motherly type with the phrase "Like if you love your mom!" underneath it I clicked 'like'. Of course I love my mom, facebook, and now you have proof.
By the eighth time I saw the same thing (two days later) my response was more akin to "YOU KNOW I LOVE MY MOTHER, FACEBOOK! SHUT UP ABOUT IT ALREADY OR I WILL LOG OFF SO HARD!!" It's bad enough that so many people were asking me to prove that I love my mom or my dead grandmas by expressing it through clicking a word on a social network, but then people started adding twisted catches...
"Like if you love your mom -or- keep scrolling if you want her to die in a horrific blimp explosion."
I don't think any of them were actually rad enough to include the phrase 'horrific blimp explosion', but this was the general idea. Somehow, if I scrolled past some crap I've seen reposted hundreds of times it meant that I wish my mom was dead.
When my daughter started insisting that if I step on a crack it would somehow break my mama's back, it got on my nerves after a while. "Look, kid! My feet are three times as fucking big as yours! I've stepped on millions of cracks and not once did it result in Nana's back being broken!" I screamed inside, while outside I mumbled a non-committal "Uh huh." This "keep scrolling if you want your mom's face to be burned off by boiling acid" nonsense is the equivalent of a silly rhyme repeated thoughtlessly by children (because it rhymes!). The problem I have with it is that it's being repeated over and over again by adults, most of whom I know are capable of rational thought.
On the plus side, this did lead to the creation of a meme that I actually love, which shows a typical mom-and-child picture with the usual "like this OR ELSE" message on it, while underneath there was a picture of Captain Picard - looking agitated - with a caption that went something like "Who the hell thinks of this shit?"
Thank you to whoever created that! Sometimes the internet needs a good jab to the nose and/or gut.
3. Using the Latest Tragedy as a Jumping-off Point for Your Political Views
Boy that (insert latest tragedy here) was sure sad...
"AND THAT'S WHY WE NEED STRICTER GUN LAWS!" or,
"AND THAT'S WHY EVERYONE SHOULD CARRY A GUN!" or,
"AND THAT'S WHY OBAMA SHOULD BE IMPEACHED!" but almost always,
"AND THAT'S WHY I NEED TO TYPE IN ALL CAPS NOW!!!"
Look, horrible things happen every second of every day. People get murdered. Possessions get stolen. Creed songs get played on 'classic rock' stations for some reason. Sometimes something so terrible happens that it's enough to briefly snap you out of your zombified internet scrolling mode. (I hope you didn't dare scroll past something that may cause your mom to be death-punched. You could have prevented it!)
From my observations, here's the three phases of a national or world-wide tragedy:
A. The people of the nation (or world) band together to mourn the lost and provide comfort to one another in a time of need. This phase usually lasts for about a day and a half.
B. Now that the initial shock is over with, people grab hold of the tragedy and use it as a basis to make political rants. Mind you, I've never ever seen one of these rants start with something like "You know, I used to have this opinion, but the recent tragedy has changed my mind. Here's why..." Rather, it seems that anyone with a half-formed opinion will relate whatever horrible thing happened to his/her cause, and use it to rationalize beliefs that he/she already firmly holds. This phase lasts anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on when the next shocking event unfolds.
C. The tragedy is forgotten. Sure, nobody will ever truly forget horrifying images they see on the news when something awful goes down. For the really big ones (like the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01 or the time Janet Jackson destroyed the morality of America because her breast popped out) we even remember where we were and what we were doing when we first heard the news. But most of these tragedies seem to slip right out of the public consciousness (faster than Janet's boob popped out, haha... ha...), perhaps as a mental defense for all of the idiocy that comes spewing out of people's faces in the wake of the events. Besides, that next big terrible thing is just waiting to happen. And I bet it will prove that my political views were correct all along, and everyone who disagreed with me will now be shamed into accepting my beliefs!
If any of your beliefs - political or otherwise - are that well thought-out and that sound, then you shouldn't have to use shock factor to convince people. You should be able to explain your thoughts clearly, in a manner that people can understand, and you should hope for discussion as a result. Nobody is ever going to jump on board with your bat-shit crazy theories just because something horrible happened on the news.
When people stop thinking for themselves and become 'Yes Men" the Salem Witch Trials happen. Nazi Germany happens. Star Wars prequels happen. I'm sure nobody wants these kinds of horrors unfurled on society any time soon. Think before you post!
These are just a few of the beefs I have with facebook behavior. I'm sure I'll think of more to write about in the near future. I'm also sure that these things won't ever truly go away, yet won't stop me - or anybody else - from spending gobs of time on facebook. Not even the abundance of ads on there now can do that.