I love the Internets. You know it wasn’t so long ago… about 1999 when Mr K said ‘We should buy a home computer.’ that I replied, ‘What do we want a home computer for? We aren’t studying, we’re not working from home, we don’t need a computer at home.’ Which of course, in hindsight makes me feel about as shortsighted as this guy:
Especially given there are three desktop PCs, one file server, three laptops, two iPads and three iPhones and one Blackberry in this house of only three occupants these days! The internets going down is a major inconvenience… a hard drive crashing is a major disaster (well, it could be if we didn’t have back up systems for our back up systems, but you get the idea). Over all we love the computers. We just about live on the computers. We research day to day life ‘stuff’ on the computers. We pay bills and do our shopping (whether it’s groceries or a new car), on the computers. We book holidays, shows and movie tickets on the computers. Quite literally, we wouldn’t know what to do without the computers anymore. And in no small part, we spend a goodly portion of our time keeping in contact with friends and family on the computers these days.
I was watching a documentary tonight about Facebook (Mark Zuckerburg: Inside Facebook) and how pervasive the website/application has become in the lives of over one billion users. With so much social interaction now being executed via the online networking platform that it has become an intrinsic part of our day to day lives – why is it that we continue to use it when it obviously pisses us off so horrendously!?! Yep, that’s what seems to be happening… we have all come to rely on Facebook (and Twitter and Linked In and Google+… yeah, I can’t back that last one up) and yet they drive us fucking bonkers! I frequently hear a regularly trolled out litany of complaints about Facebook, and yet we keep on coming back.
There are many offences and social faux pas that can be seen carried out on the social networking platform on a regular basis, some innocuous, some highly offensive, but the most frequently heard transgressions at a Facebook bitch fest include the following faults:
People droning on and on and on about their paleo diet or their crossfit regime or their latest exercise app results. Yes, we know you’re either buff as, and have a healthy lifestyle and are going to outlive the hard living boozehounds amongst us by a decade. And yes, occasionally we wish we could be fit bastards like you. But if all your status updates ramble on about how great your gym session was, or what a slave driver your trainer is, or how much weight you lost in the past week – well, lots of us are just zoning out. Some of us are even hiding you or blocking you altogether it’s so annoying. Why? Well, because ultimately this is shit we just don’t care about… Your friends want to know what’s going on with you, maybe consider posting something else that is happening in your life? Just a suggestion.
Second most annoying social networking habit has got to be the VagueBooking shit! Urgh. The posting of thinly veiled or cryptic status updates is a social faux pas that really shouldn’t be tolerated, and certainly not encouraged by people chiming in soliciting details. It’s the most obvious form of attention whoring, plain and simple. Worst than the VagueBook status alone is the “I don’t want to talk about it”/VagueBook status update. People are generally your friends on Facebook for a reason – hopefully because they like you not just because it makes it easier to stalk you. So when you post a quasi-mysterious status about how life/family/work is throwing you a curve ball at the moment – your Friends will naturally ask you about it (even though I personally don’t think they should buy in). But for God love us and preserve us, if you have something going on in your life that you need to vent but don’t want to talk about – don’t post stuff about it all. Find a therapist and leave the rest of us out of it.
Another annoying as all fuck Facebook habit is the constant sharing of photos of EVERY little thing you ever eat. Sure, that unusually huge, hanging off your plate schnitzel place you discovered might warrant chucking up a photo. Or that ‘I’ve never cooked a lasagne from scratch before’ dinner might likewise be of interest to others and gain you some kudos from the peanut gallery, or the absolutely stunning piece of culinary artistry you encountered when out at a special restaurant should be shared. However, if you get to the point where you’re photographing and/or Instagramming the shit out of every single morsel of food (or cocktail or fancy beer) you’ve ever ordered/consumed/planned to consume… than, it’s too much. A little circumspection here, people. Post the extraordinary, not the ordinary, otherwise we just don’t care.
Another major social faux pas can be found in bombarding your friends with game requests, so much so, that this has apparently become a favoured way to troll people you don’t really like nowadays. Some of you out there obviously love playing games through your social networking accounts. And some of us don’t. And those of us who don’t, really really hate being barraged with game requests. Sometimes your game will spam your friends – get into the settings, turn them off and stop the damn thing from spamming people every time you do something. If someone hasn’t responded to the first dozen or so requests that you sent, they’re probably not fricken’ interested, so stop sending them. (PS: If the Candy Crush requests continue, drastic measures will need to be taken!)
Okay, here’s one might strike close to home and could possibly offend some with delicate sensibilities… but one thing that sets the teeth on edge is the overly-proud parent bit. I have a kid. I love him. He’s awesome, but I’m pretty sure that not everyone has the same high opinion of him that I do. And I understand that other parents are just as proud of their own kids too. But we’d probably be more proud of your kid, if you didn’t post about every stupidly mundane little thing that your Jilly or Johnny does, each and every time they do it… Had a bad night sleep? Didn’t eat his Weeties? Has a rash? An earache? Nope. Unless your three year old kid has done something excessively cute (like colour coding your DVD collection), amusing (outed you by letting Aunty Betty how much y’all hate her ceramic pumpkins), or horrific (spewed all over the family priest), then we really don’t need to know about it.
Then there’s over sharing. Telling people every little detail about your personal life. Just… Why? People don’t need to know that you’re in the bathroom, that you tried on a new outfit, that you’re dying without your morning coffee (yet again), that you cuddled your cat last night. Unless someone asks, or it’s something that is actually significant, you don’t need to post the boring day to day stuff every single day. Because guess what? We all have boring day to day stuff. We all eat breakfast. We all hate traffic. We all love our pets. We all have mundane crap going on every day. Your social media account doesn’t need to amplify your every boring life detail for you. Then there’s the other type of over sharing – “My arsehole room mate/brother is masturbating in his room/cheating on his wife.” type of, way too much personal information over share. Also included in this category is the ‘huge boil on my butt / smelly abscess in my gums / look at my gory injury photo’ update. There is a time and place for that type of sharing and normally these issues are best discussed personally, in private, with people you consider your closest friends. Maintain some mystery, just a little bit.
Oh, I almost forgot the constant check-ins. People love to hear when you are somewhere exciting, exotic, unusual or remote. Checking in when you’re travelling or out on the town with friends or doing something you love, is awesome. But, much like the previous mini-rant, regular checking-ins at every single place you go to is simply not necessary. Go get yourself a Four Square account if you simply must check-in. You don’t need to tell the world where you are every minute of the day. “Hey, I’m at this restaurant now. It’s great. ” “Hey, you go there every day and check-in. We know by now that during lunch, you’re there.” Yep. It’s a bit like that. For the record all those ‘Brisbane / Canberra / Melbourne / Adelaide… I am in you posts!’ are also annoying and now so thoroughly passe… so, please, don’t do it. Language is an amazing thing, put a little effort into your travel check-ins. Aim for originality people.
Event etiquette is a big issue on Facebook too. There are several ways to fuck up using the event thing on FB. Constantly spamming people with repeated invites to your event, more spam with additional information about your event, and more spam with updates about your event… and… and… and, is a bit of a no-no. Eventually people get so sick of hearing about your event, that they want nothing to do with your event – it’s a turn off. Another seriously dismaying but common misstep in Facebook event creation is making your private event visible to people who aren’t actually invited to your event. Way to inadvertently make your friends feel unloved or unwanted if they can see you’re excited to be having a party, and plenty of mutual acquaintances are invited, but… ouch, the knife goes in, they didn’t make the cut. Nice work. Even if it’s a ‘nothing/non-occasion’ occasion, people feel hurt being excluded. So, events are great, especially if they’re for a good cause, a relaxing pause, or a downing of drunken drawers, however over promotion of your event can drive people away and not watching your privacy settings can be seriously bad form.
There’s also a fine line in Facebook between being an active social media commenter and ‘Liker’ and well, coming across like a fucking stalker. Sure, ‘Like’ and comment away, that’s what Facebook is all about. Having posts ‘Liked’ by your friends makes people feel all warm and fuzzy (for reasons that people psych degrees could probably explain better than I could), and either a deep and meaningful, or completely trivial conversation ensuing from your status update can be a lot of fun. But one surefire way to cross the Stalker Line is to ‘Like’, comment, favourite, retweet or repin each and every thing your friends post on their social media accounts. Just settle, petal. If you are a really active ‘Liker’ and commenter… sometimes it’s more telling to see whose accounts you’re not commenting on! Aaaah. Bet you thought no one was noticing you deliberately avoiding commenting publicly on certain people’s accounts… can’t have people knowing about your secret crushes now, can we?
Here’s one annoys me beyond what may be considered reasonable. I don’t know about the rest of you, but we use Facebook Groups quite a bit. I belong to a world wide medieval re-enactment society which has branches across the world, and subgroups throughout Australia and in various cities. As I am interested in events and happenings in these different branches, external to my own local sub-branch, I subscribe to quite a few Facebook groups set up for that purpose (in fact, a quick look reveals I am subscribed to thirteen different SCA Facebook Groups). Every now and then – well, a couple of times a week lately – someone will post some information to their local group page… and then post it to the national group page, and then an event group page, and then a group half way across the country and then a specific interest group and Lord knows where else. So many of us see the same post pop up three, four, five times! And while Facebook has gotten smart enough to roll shit together, and tell me that 5+ friends shared the same link recently… it isn’t smart enough to roll together that an individual posted the same shit to half a dozen different groups, and so sends a notification for each of the posts to each of the groups I belong to. Grrr. I could turn the notifications off – but then I’d end up missing stuff I actually want! Shits me to tears.
Then there’s over rampant elf promotion. I mean, I guess this is largely what Facebook is all about. Crafting an image that you wish to project to the world. You moderate and monitor what you put out there about yourself. Control what pictures you allow yourself to remain tagged in. Decided whether you’re a totally PG rated account with language suitable for mixed company, or whether you’re going to let it all hang out and come with ‘Adults Only’, R rated status updates. But promoting yourself too much – “Look at me! Look at me!” – Seriously, even if we would like to support you in your plans and endeavours, don’t ram it down people’s throats or badger them over your current projects/obsessions. That shit gets old, really quick.
I know so many people who live and die by their smart phones – check them last thing before going to bed at night and are then right back on Facebook or Twitter before they’ve even gotten out of bed in the morning! Feel totally naked when they’ve accidentally left them at home for the day. I’ve even met plenty of people who admit to using their phones on the toilet (ewww!) … something we would have found unbelievable a decade ago! So it looks like the whole social networking thing via our computers, tablets and phones isn’t going no where. In fact, I’m sure it is only going to get more ubiquitous in our lives as time marches inexorably onwards.
Now I know I have been guilty of some, if not several of these infringements over the years (well, probably not the Vaguebooking thing, though – being less than succinct is so not my style) but perhaps it’s time we all stopped, and thought more about what we are putting out there… else instead of seeing our number of social connections climb and be increasingly useful and meaningful as we go through our lives, we’re likely to see these connections to new levels of banality.