This morning started out like any other – my alarm went off way too soon, I couldn’t find anything to wear, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it to Starbucks on time. I went about my morning routine – washing my hair, brushing my teeth, figuring out where my shoes were…and, of course, checking Facebook.
Now, while Facebook is hardly what anyone would consider to be a news source, my News Feed serves as my morning paper – the copy I like to read before I start my day. I can always count on my friend Jordan to post some nerdy image that puts a smile on my face (news about X-MEN: Days of Future Past, a meme about Ben Affleck being cast as Batman, etc.), Puck is my window into all things LGBTQ – and keeps me abreast of causes that are important to them (the proper use of pronouns when it comes to referring to people who are transgendered, polyamorous relationship dynamics, and injustice around the world), and well, you get the idea.
My friends are people – and people have feelings – which is why I was anxious to read the article my friend Katie shared: 7 Ways to be Insufferable on Facebook.
Before I get into the article, I’d first like to share with you the mission statement of Facebook, and ask you to keep it in mind as we go on this journey together: Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.
The article opens with a rather lengthy status update that I have a hard time believing is original:
“2012 was a biggg year for me. I left my amazing job at NBC to move back to Chicago. I started dating my angel, Jaime Holland. I started yoga (thanks Jake Fisher & Jonah Perlstein!). I wrote an album with Matthew Johannson. Wrote another album I’m proud of. I got to hang with Owen Wilson, and worked with Will Ferrell on an amazing project. Had a conversation about Barack Obama with David Gregory. Danced. Joined a kickball team. Won a couple awards. Helped my sister plan her summer trip. Swam a lot. Golfed a little. Cried more than you would think. Read The World According to Garp. Saw Apocolypse Now. Went to Miami for the NBA Finals. Drank the best orange juice I’ve ever had with Davey Welch. Tweeted. Went to amazing weddings in Upstate New York. Drank a ridiculous amount of milk. Learned how to make sand art. Saw a great light show. Saw the Angels and Lakers. Fell in love with Jawbone Up. Cooked with Jaime. Gardened with Jaime. Watched Homeland with Jaime. Wrestled with Jaime. Laughed for hours with Jaime. Fell in love with Jaime’s family. Worked on a play. Played World of Warcraft. Did some improv. Played a ton of the guitar. Really just had a wild, amazing year. What a world.”
This leads the author to state: “A Facebook status is annoying if it primarily serves the author and does nothing positive for anyone reading it.” The author goes a step further and provides guidelines for how to not be annoying:
To be unannoying, a Facebook status typically has to be one of two things:
::Sigh:: A couple of things with that…
Facebook is like my journal – I tell it where I go, what I do, how I feel. As a writer, I’ve always kept a journal – usually a lined Moleskine that I deemed very sacred. My journal was my identity – it was my fear, my hope, my failure, my victory. It was love, loss, and everything in between…it was me. The tragic thing about that was that no one knew the real me – no one knew how I felt or what I was thinking. The only “person” who knew me were the pages I confided in.
And then three years ago, my friend Lauren posted this status: “It doesn’t make sense. It’s all wrong. It’s all going to be over.”
I called her immediately and breathed a sigh of relief when she picked up the phone and came out to me. She was wrestling with how to tell her extremely religious mother and father about her sexual orientation – fearing rejection, judgement, and impending homelessness. We talked for about an hour before I made the drive down to Delaware to hold her hand as she told her parents.
Now, I can see how people who don’t know her – such as the girl that just started at her job who requested to be her friend last week, or the cousin she only sees on Christmas, or that girl from her Biology class a few semesters ago – could see that status as being “attention hungry”…but that status isn’t for them.
You see, when I was driving back from Delaware, I realized something – Facebook saved Lauren’s life. Because if I, for some reason, hadn’t seen that message, I know our friend Will would have and he sure as shit would have done the same thing I did…Facebook gave us the opportunity to be there for our friend.
I’m not saying that every status is life-changing, or that I don’t roll my eyes or scoff at some status updates – Jesus, I am probably THE MOST insufferable person on Facebook…but every person on Facebook does the same thing – you agree to be a spectator of someone else’s life.
And life is boring sometimes – life is annoying. Life is stupid. Life is love. Life is eye rolls. And if you can’t handle that, well that’s your problem. Because it is not the job of those in your life to entertain or “do something” for you through a social media network. If you’re that desperate for constant entertainment, delete your profile and go on Netflix.
The author states that all Facebook statuses stem from five motivations:
“1) Image Crafting. The author wants to affect the way people think of her.
2) Narcissism. The author’s thoughts, opinions, and life philosophies matter. The author and the author’s life are interesting in and of themselves.
3) Attention Craving. The author wants attention.
4) Jealousy Inducing. The author wants to make people jealous of him or his life.
5) Loneliness. The author is feeling lonely and wants Facebook to make it better. This is the least heinous of the five — but seeing a lonely person acting lonely on Facebook makes me and everyone else sad. So the person is essentially spreading their sadness, and that’s a shitty thing to do, so it’s on the list.”
#1 has to be the most offensive primarily due to the fact that it includes the word “her”. Women are not the only people who are concerned with how people think of them. Men and women alike care about how the world perceives them.
#2: Who doesn’t think their opinions matter? Who doesn’t think their life isn’t interesting?
#3: We all want attention to some degree.
#4: I think this is a bit extreme. I don’t think anyone really wants to make another person jealous of them. But if that bothers you then maybe you’re the asshole for letting a Facebook status fuck up your entire day.
#5: The point of a lonely or sad Facebook status is to feel less alone. It’s important to know that someone out there cares, is there for you, and is willing to talk about it.