An Open Letter to Facebook and its Users

Dear Facebook:  I need your help.

Facebook, I am trying to preserve my sanity.  It isn’t because of the problems in my life, although I have the same share of them as anyone else.  It isn’t because of stress, even though I certainly have that.  It might be, at least in part, because of the sum of all of that; but even altogether, those things wouldn’t push me over the edge.  No, the real problem begins when I log in to you, Facebook.  You see, I use you as a stress-reliever, a way to keep in touch with friends and see what they’re up to, and thus divert my mind from my own concerns for a while…and then, things start happening.

I’m going to direct this next section to your users, Facebook.  But I want you to pay attention, too, because I need you.  Only you have the power to broadcast these concerns to all of your users.  Please help me get the word out, before I am forced to find a way to commit homicide via the internet.  Wait, I’m sure someone has already done that.

Facebook users of the world, please listen:  Here are some things you need to STOP DOING, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY!  For your sanity, and mine, and that of everyone else!

  • Making vague statements to draw attention.  This is the king of passive-aggressive facebook behaviors.  “Some people pretend they care about you, but you know who your real friends are.”  This is just one of a thousand examples.  (Not an actual status, I have drawn from several to create my examples here.  Have to protect the guilty.)  People do this if they want attention.  They want someone to ask what is wrong, so that they can feel free to vent.  It’s Facebook—if you want to vent, just go ahead and do it, and please stop dragging out the suspense.  No one will pay any attention anyway.
  • “Inbox Me.”  This is a corollary to the first point.  You make a vague statement, as noted above, and you successfully hook your fish!  That is, you get someone with the poor judgment necessary to say “What’s wrong?”  Then, you give this zinger of a reply:  “Inbox me”!  Or PM me, or whatever variation suits you.  What?!  Why are you even communicating via Facebook?  If you didn’t want your business public, you wouldn’t start the conversation here.  If you wanted a private conversation, that’s how you would START the conversation, whether in messenger or chat or text or—heaven forbid—on the phone or in person.  Nothing is private here—why on earth do you want to play as though it is?  Either keep the whole matter private, or just be open about it.
  • One-Note Wonders.  You know who you are!  Facebook is your personal forum to discuss your one and only obsession.  It could be as simple as your love of lolcats; it could be as obnoxious as your baby mama (or daddy) drama; it could be as potentially inflammatory as your anarchist political leanings.    Regardless of your topic, is that all there is to you?  Does nothing else ever happen in your life?  Sometimes I feel the urge to take my Facebook friends gently by the throat, shake them vigorously, and gently scream at them, “DON’T YOU EVER HAVE ANYTHING ELSE TO TALK ABOUT??!!!!”
  • Episodic Fighting.  Some people are guilty of this AND are One-Note Wonders.  Dear Lord, deliver us.  Episodic fighters are those who live for one fight or another…but we never get the whole story.  Don’t misunderstand; I’m not necessarily asking for the whole story!  It’s true that everyone likes a little drama, and a fight on Facebook can be entertaining.  (You must want it to be entertaining; if you didn’t want us watching, you wouldn’t do it here.)  But when we only get a little bit of the necessary information, it’s pointless.  I have seen a three-way fight that lasted over a month, and still was not sure who the third party was.

This deserves a little more explanation.  Listen:  I may see your posts, but I don’t see your friends’ posts (unless we have them in common).  Let’s assume, as I have said, that you want this disaster of a fight to be public.  You want your friends to see it.  If you REALLY MUST fight here, where we can all see it, do us a favor and tell us what we’re seeing.  At least tell us what’s going on, and who you’re fighting with.  Or better yet, just keep it off Facebook.  Or resolve the fight.  Hey, you might even do yourself a favor then!

  • General Hostility.  I expect flak for this one.  Now, I know that people are people.  I know that hostility is something we all have inside us, to one degree or another.  But what is it about Facebook that brings it out and concentrates it?    I conducted an experiment yesterday, in which I took a very informal count of Facebook statuses on my news feed, first thing in the morning.  Two-thirds of the statuses (actual statuses, not reposts) were pure hostility and anger.  About one-fourth were positive, and the rest were cat stories.  Or something like that.  This was a Sunday morning.  If there is that much free-floating hostility out there on a Sunday morning, may I suggest trading Facebook for group therapy?

So, Facebook users, let me give you this as food for thought.  Not that Facebook is an environment that fosters thought, but maybe if we all try it…At any rate, please, for all of us, rein it in.  Or else I’ll be forced to post exclusively about this topic, in vague statements, and periodically fight with my detractors, using all my inner hostility.  Oh wait, you won’t have to see it on your news feed—I’ll just have you inbox me.

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