From Facebook to Facegook
If you are indulging in the national Facebook confession session, then this is not the post for you. Close the browser right now, so you don’t have to unfriend me later.
Fellow haters, let’s dim the lights, top off our wine glasses, and get comfortable, shall we?
Back in 2009, after slyly launching my own Facebook page, my mind would stay busy all day long composing status updates about myself in the third person singular/present progressive. For example, if I was cleaning the horse stall on a cold winter morning, I might have written the following update “…is shoveling frozen manure at sunrise!”
Thinking up status updates based on any one of the exciting things I was doing was a very gratifying exercise in narcissism for me. I loved creating well-turned phrases throughout the day and then coyly offering them up to illustrate the staggering coolness of me.
I can’t speak for others, but I soon began to suspect that I wasn’t alone in this endeavor. Despite our thinly veiled agendas, there was something kind of sweet going on in those early years. We adults put our best foot forward and were careful to reveal ourselves in a positive light because we respected ourselves and each other.
Eventually we evolved from the third person singular/present progressive tense to the first person singular when posting status updates. Being freed from the demands of the bizarre Facebook syntax further loosened our tongues and sparked our collective imagination, thereby prolonging the honeymoon with Facebook, and one another, just a little bit longer.
Unfortunately, as graphics became easier to upload and share, “friends” obliviously allowed online marketers to start speaking for them in the form of digital pablum served up on a cheesy graphic.
If I hadn’t been too snotty to participate in this myself, you can be sure that I would have chosen something that would showcase yet another facet of my incredible coolness.
For example, let’s imagine that my friends were curious about my thoughts on fear but were too afraid to ask me. Being magically omniscient and knowing that they were desperate to hear my thoughts on fear, I would want to share my thoughts on fear with them. Why simply state, apropos of nothing, that “Fear makes me want to piss myself” when I could easily post a canned graphic that said “When life gives you something that makes you feel afraid, that’s when life gives you a chance to be brave.”
I hated the digital pablum phase of last summer, but now I feel nostalgic about it. Gone are the days when we conducted ourselves on Facebook the way we would around a kitchen table.
Ideally, when hanging out with friends and family in the kitchen, there is laughter and good cheer. The clothing stays on, and there is a polite give and take when it comes to current events.
In the privacy of the bathroom, drawers are dropped, noses are excavated, and zits are popped.
Regrettably, some of us have chosen to leave the proverbial bathroom door ajar.
Let me put a fine point on it: The stitches and festering bubos should remain under the bandage. The personal tragedy? It belongs with the pastor, or counselor, or best friend. The drug addiction? Again, there are people better qualified than I to help with that problem. Ditto on the Viagra refill and the gooey flu symptoms.
My relationship to Facebook has become completely dysfunctional, but I can’t bring myself to delete my account. For every one person who flashes his necrotic toenail via Instagram, two more people make me laugh. And, mornings without Facebook would be unimaginable, so I’ve gotten in the habit of placing a barf bag next to my coffee cup.
Due to the images of food, scar tissue and blood, and the revelations about Viagra and phlegm on Facebook, I now face an existential crisis. Even if I still felt tempted to gush about some aspect of my fascinating existence, I wouldn’t be able to do it. I have tried. Each time I try to write status update, a voice in my head intones “no one cares.”
In the past, I have ignored that soul-crushing voice because there were things I really wanted to share. In the spirit of full disclosure, I give you these examples from my own timeline.
November 5, 2012: “Blasting Peter Frampton while I’m working out gives me goosebumps even though I’m sweating like a horse and my shirt is soaked”
November 15, 2012: “I haven’t used shampoo in weeks. Instead, I clean my hair with baking soda and cider vinegar. So long large, flakes of dandruff“
November 22, 2012: “I just discovered these AMAZING bras! I am so over the padded ones because they stink in the summer!”
December 18, 2012: “Cutting dairy out of my diet. Too much mucus!”
December 31, 2012: “Thinking about getting a new vibrator. Can anyone recommend one?”
After my own Facebook transgressions, I have since turned into a benevolent lurker, and autocratic poster. I engage in conversations with friends, but rarely post status updates anymore unless it is to promote this blog.
If I recklessly express my dismay about our country’s gun problem because, say, 26 people were murdered in a school by a creepy white kid with an automatic weapon, I quickly discover that I am expected to participate in, and/or moderate a “fair and balanced” debate.
I should be more open to debate, but it isn’t nice to publicly annihilate your friends, especially after they’ve just checked out a picture of your gall bladder.
February 1, 2013: “Thinking about kicking the Facebook habit. Too much bile”