Sunday, July 01, 2012

Peevish Social Media

After writing a blog for over six years and being on Facebook for five, you start to consider yourself a connoisseur of user generated/social media--especially being able to distinguish between what is “within the norm” versus “cringe-worthy.”  I have learned from bloggers before me that obscurity is a protection from ridicule until the moment it’s not--in other words, once you are found to be interesting in either a good or bad way, you’re anonymity can be erased by one well-followed tweet or blog entry with a hyperlink.  Bolder bloggers than I have fallen upon their own words and found this to be true.

But as a blogger and social media consumer, I would like to think I have grown with the medium.  At first, I wanted to pour my soul out and unleash heartfelt notions and confessions into the internet ether.  But my husband who was usually tangled up or mentioned in these passages objected to my rush to pull back the curtain.  It annoyed me at first, especially with us both being hi-tech professionals, that he could not embrace the power of this global community.  After all, shared ideas and experiences were the ultimate promise of the Internet.  But Ken was right to be prudent and thoughtful about what one posts.  After all, the Internet is forever and the Internet never forgets.

I feel a responsibility as someone who creates content.  When I was back in school taking things like Media Ethics, Media Law, Comm 101 and News Writing, it’s clear that you establish a bond of trustworthiness with your audience.  As a news writer, you are clearly obliged to write the truth and corroborate your facts--something that CNN and Fox unfortunately didn’t do very well when they tried to be first to air with the Supreme Court Healthcare Ruling last week.  As a blogger, I feel my responsibility exists somewhere between the realms of informing and entertaining.  I take it seriously enough that I don’t want people to feel they’ve wasted their time, but in this case “my facts” may only be corroborated with my opinion.  With status updates, I believe there is a fine line to balance between informing, entertaining and promoting.  One of my Facebook friends and former co-workers is a master at status updates.  He is amazingly witty and whip smart.  I tell him constantly he should compile his statuses in a book.  I am not that epic but I try to bring something to the table.  “Try” being the operative word.

So with Facebook, I have a tempestuous relationship. It is irresistible as a sharing forum and gives me insight to my friends that I would never have otherwise.  More often than not, I hear breaking news from status updates before I see it in any other medium.  Plus as a stay-at-home mom who has limited adult contact during the day, Facebook is a way I feel part of the larger world and can keep up on things/people I care about.  But on the other hand, Facebook gives everyone a narcissistic platform on which to promote and expose their most favorite topic: themselves.   Also, Facebook’s contempt for privacy, creating dossiers on its members to better advertise and creating a culture of exhibitionists, makes Facebook like cheese: I know it’s not the best thing for me with my high cholesterol but I have to have it everyday.  And so I do.

There is a whole website dedicated to nothing but exposing the truly ridiculous things people put on Facebook called Lamebook.  For Christmas, Ken got me their daily calendar so everyday I tear off a new page and feast on yet another example of someone’s blatant lack of judgement.  The biggest area of “lameness” I see over and over again on my calendar is forgetting that your parents are FB friends and then posting something very sexual or revealing upon which they comment.  In my own circle of Facebook friends, past and present, I see patterns of lameness that ebb and flow too (though I would never submit them to this website--I do have standards).  So I’ve carefully identified my Top 5 Biggest Facebook Pet Peeves because this could be informative, this could be entertaining but this is definitely something I want you to know about me and what I don’t like.

1. Setting your status to “<Your Name> is.”  
This used to happen more in the earlier days of Facebook but I see it every now and then.  How clever, edgy and original:  you simply “are” or “is”.  Why would you even waste my time with that?  Don’t have anything else to say?  How about wait until you do.  I’ll still be here.

2. Taking a picture of what you cooked or ordered for dinner.  
Yes, lots of people do this.  If I had to guess, I bet 25-35% of my overall news feed contains pictures of food.  I just can’t help but feel people are saying, “look at what I’m having/made that you’re not.”  I guess if we really boil it down, that sentiment is the true spirit of Facebook.  (But this aversion to food posts could stem a bit from my personal lack of interest in cooking or food preparation.  Just a bit.)

3.  Quoting song lyrics.  
I may have done this once or twice but I learned my lesson. You might be at work with headphones on listening to your favorite 80’s hair band or watching videos on YouTube but don’t expect the rest of us to understand how this song so describes your mood right now by typing out the lyrics.  It reminds me of coming in on a movie when it’s halfway over.  Context?

4. “Chain letter” type status updates.  
Any status update from a friend requiring me to repost as my own, gets an eyeroll and a “hide” click.   I’ve seen them ranging from caring about people who have had cancer, to whether I love my mom/daughter/dad/husband, to obscure, provocative statuses that practically beg people to comment to find out more.  I know, I’m a monster--how could I be so callous?  By posting this stuff, what you are really saying to your friends is “I mean well but I am a proverbial lemming.”  People who start those kinds of things just want to see how far the ripple will go--like a football stadium wave.  I cannot abide.  Sorry.

5. Game accomplishments or calls to join a game.  Full disclosure: at the very beginning of joining Facebook, I played Ninjas vs. Pirates.  I really got into it.  Then a few years later, I would blast my friends with Collapse Chaos scores.  But now I hide any game update and ban them from my news feed.  Yes, I used to work in the games industry and, yes, I worked on an early plan of how to bring Real Games to Facebook but I’ve got limited time to read all the statuses now and I can’t have the feed clogged with game stuff.  I don’t even get to play games anymore if it’s any condolence.

So what are your Facebook Pet Peeves (besides outspoken friends who make lists of things they don’t like about common Facebook behavior)?


mep517 said...

The great sports commentator Jim Rome has a rule for people calling into his radio show. "Have a take, and do not suck." I think this should be the gold standard for FB status updates. FB is not a place to whine incessantly about your life -- the occasional vent into the void or call for support when feeling low is okay in my book, but a running tally of how much your life sucks, how little money you have, what a jerk your spouse is or how put-upon you are but your life is exhausting.

Be funny, be informative, be brief.

Melanie said...

Since FB is made for thinking everything is about you, there is only one post that irritates me...really just makes me paranoid.

I will gleefully read your posts about baby poo, how much you ran today, what you had for breakfast and the color you chose for your dining room and why - with captive interest! But the post that begins "Some people need to..." really creeps me out because I automatically think it is about me. Just makes me feel weird the next time I see that person, like I need to apologize for talking too much about my problems or not knowing how to drive or whatever it is that the "some people" they know are so deficient in. I would like it better if people just went all out like "My mom needs to learn to think before she starts running her mouth!" or "Newsflash to Melanie: you are among the 'some people' that skinny jeans were not made for". I would find this both more entertaining and less terrifying.

The Schlameus Family said...

Love this post and the comments, thank you. "like" button has been punched