Tinder: the good, the bad and the vain

SO in my quest to enter the modern world of dating, I joined Tinder. Two things prompted this decision. My ex had met his fiance on Tinder and I had heard a few other stories from people about starting actual relationships via Tinder. I really didn’t believe this was going to happen for me, but I was curious as to how Tinder really worked. So I joined. I put up a profile with several headshots and a basic run-down of myself. I mentioned my height first, being a super-geek next and the fact that I am absolutely not looking for hook-ups. I went in with NO expectations.Then I began the great swipe-fest.

DISCLAIMER: My search parameters are set to men and women but there was a ratio of men to women of about 50-1 and many of the women’s profiles I saw were very vague about whether they were looking for a romantic meeting or a purely social one. So I only swiped-right a couple of women. There were SOME women who were clearly looking for hook-ups and I swiped-left on all of them. So all of the following is based on my experiences with men.

Here was my criteria:

SWIPE-LEFT

  • no profile information (its a hook-up)
  • no picture (what are you hiding? Its the modern age, you can upload a selfie in .005 seconds, no excuses)
    over 5’11” (purely a practical matter)
  • frowning (wtf dude)
  • REALLY bad lighting (C’MAN)
  • flashing “I’m a wannabe gangstah” signs (I bet you work for FedEx, amirite?)
  • posing with dead animals (no, I do not care that you caught a big fish or shot a deer)
  • posing with beautiful women (what are you looking through Tinder for? Is that supposed to make me feel competitive or something? Newsflash: most women will just deflate and feel inadequate. How would you like it if I put up a picture of me cuddling someone who looks like Vin Diesel? You’d think that’s what I expect to find, that’s what)
  • picture of dog in pic pool (I am not looking to date your dog no matter how much you love him)
  • pic with tiger (yes, there are a LOT of pictures with tigers. I do not know why but I have my suspicions)
  • pic with expensive car/watch/boat/champagne (I do not care about how rich you pretend to be or how rich you actually are)
  • pic in obvious foreign location (you travel a lot. that means you’re not around much. I do not have the luxury to travel a lot right now)
  • corporate headshot (seriously? you can’t take a damned selfie in your natural habitat? Oh wait, maybe that IS your natural habitat. Yuck)
  • pic with sport-team love (MAYBE you’ll find a woman who adores your sports team but honestly I don’t think that is a good basis for a relationship)
  • profile stressing travel (see “pic in foreign location”)
  • profile stressing outdoorsy/sportsing/workout stuff (I’m disabled and trying to get my health back up but for now I can’t keep up with someone who wants to hike the Appalachian trail)
  • profile marrying the word “woman” with any of the following: Classy, sexy, special, or real (I might think I am all of those things but I have no idea if you’d agree with me. That bar is too vaguely high for my tastes besides its so FUCKING CLICHE)

SWIPE-RIGHT

  • something in the picture that makes you look a little “different”
  • actual smiling (there’s a difference and its in the eyes and you can’t fake it)
  • mentioning being a father but NOT putting more than a photo-bombed headshot of your kid(s) in the pic pool (seeing full pics of your children makes me uneasy. we’re looking for a romance, and you’re splashing your kids’ pics on a very public place… that seems entirely too reckless)
  • talking about things you like AND things you do (we don’t all get to do the things we like and sometimes the things we do may seem boring to us but are interesting to someone else)
  • being frank about what you want in a RELATIONSHIP (not a person; people can be so many things at once its intimidating to read a laundry list of vague qualities you are hoping to find)
  • profile reads like you’re happy already but wanting to share your happy life (I don’t want to be with someone who hopes I will “complete” their miserably empty existence)
  • equally okay with doing things “out and about” or “stay home”

I swiped-right on about 50 profiles. Of those, I received messages from four people first. I also sent messages to about six people and about five of them replied. In every single case, the person I was chatting with, asked me to text them on their phone within about three sentences. Not being comfortable with sending my phone number to strangers I managed to demur.(I had a not-great experience doing that with someone from OkCupid. Even though we had talked for nearly a month and realized we weren’t dating material for each other, we decided we were cool with hanging out occasionally. Next thing you know, I’m blocking him for drunk texting suggestive things to me *sigh*) I suggested meeting up with two people. One ended up begging off later (he was here to attend a funeral so I really understood him changing his mind) the other never responded. So my actual contacts with people show that Tinder guys have the exact same problem as OkCupid guys: they don’t have the whatever-it-takes to actually follow through on a dating prospect even when its handed to them on a silver platter. Suffice it to say, I’m not interested in dating someone who can’t get it together to finish a conversation, respond to a request to meet up or even message back. And those were men I swiped-right who had swiped-right on me. So its not like they were repelled by my unsexiness or anything. They already decided they liked me (pic and/or profile) yet could not bring themselves to even say hello (or much beyond that) The one and only guy who managed a good fun conversation and said he wanted to meet was only in town for a few days for a funeral and we just couldn’t get our schedules together. He did text me later to apologize and ask if I was free later which sadly I was not. Ah well.

So all the men I swiped-left? Oy and Vey. Endless streams of “look how great I am” pictures and profiles. It became boring, in fact. And somewhat depressing really.

Overall, I have ascertained that Tinder is in fact pretty much what I expected. I wasn’t interested in using it previously because the notion of finding someone based on a picture was just rather… superficial. And that’s pretty much what Tinder is: superficial. The vast majority of what I’ve come across (and I’m talking about the ones who say they don’t want “just a hook-up”) are braggarts and swellheads. The vast majority of pictures I see are all about showing how superior the subject is in the arena of money, material possessions, adventure and/or looks. I can’t possibly speak for all or even most women but the subset of type of women I belong to and the fact is that we generally aren’t interested in snagging the Most Superior Male on the block. In some ways, that’s a turn-off, in fact. To be with someone who sets themselves up as superior, you feel as if you also must be a superior specimen and face it, most women do not go around feeling superior to other women. Hierarchy and competition is not a common thing among smart, lively women who take command of their sexuality. No matter how awesome we view ourselves (and most of us do) we do not do it relative to other women or by a standard of measurement that society sets out. So my only conclusion is that Tinder is a social meeting place for the most banal, average and superficial folk. Not to say there aren’t women that like, of course there are, but considering the qualities that most men say they are looking for, Tinder doesn’t offer much in the way of choice for women who actually have those qualities. Because women who are bright, lively and take command of their sexuality are generally looking for someone who is in a similar mindset, not someone who wastes energy bragging about their accoutrements of acquisition. The spending of money and the position of power within one’s career does not translate into personal qualities beyond the average, it just indicates that you have been more successful (which implies plenty of luck) than others. But success doesn’t indicate personal fortitude or work ethic or even smarts – just opportunity. Relationships aren’t successful because of opportunity. Matching up with someone isn’t a just a matter of chance, its a matter of matching someone’s projected qualities with your desires, now and for the future. That’s not something that I can judge based on what car you drive, how many fish you caught or how much you love your dog.

Goodbye Tinder. You’re definitely not for me.

Social Media

Look at this Cartoon .

Social Media. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, G+, Reddit, Livejournal – those are only the ones I’m somewhat familiar with. Those are the generalized ones. There’s many more that are specialized too. Videosift, Youtube, dailymotion, Foursquare, Linkedin…

All virtual meeting-places. Forums, communities, groups, hangouts, guilds elists and PMs. We know what they are and how they’re used. Despite different tools, commands and symbols, they all do basically the same thing: bring people together online to share with each other.

The general consensus is that it is sucking up our socializing. We no longer rely on “real-time” or “face time”. We don’t interact on a daily basis in a “normal” way. Social media is making us all strangers. Social media is stealing our potential quality time. Social media is engulfing us in virtual reality and we are letting life slip by unnoticed. Our children are neglected, our work is sub-standard and our interactions are minimized. We are addicted to unreal relationships.

What did we do before social media?

The general consensus is that we actually made plans to see each other. We had conversations, went out and got to know each other. We looked at each other. We acknowledged one  another. We had “real” relationships.  Parents paid attention to their kids, SigOths went on dates, and we had hobbies that didn’t require looking at a screen.

Did we really?

All my life I’ve been fascinated with paucity. I read Lois Lenski and the “little house” series. I imagined what life was like without electricity, indoor plumbing or interstate commerce. Reading by candlelight, sitting on a latrine and relying on a garden for dinner…. not things I romanticized or wanted, but fascinated by nonetheless.  All my life I’ve been grateful to live when I do; no slavery, women can vote, and modern “conveniences” like light, heat and ready food. There’s many thing I remember “the old fashioned way” – stick shift driving, gas heaters without thermostats, fans instead of air conditioners, ovens that had to be lit.

I remember everyone using cash to pay for things. A check was a huge hold-up at the store and a calculator that you could put in your purse was an amazing thing. Credit cards were for emergencies or rich people. In fact, rich people didn’t use credit cards much either; they had “line of credit” at stores and could simply walk in, pick things out, and have them delivered to their home and billed later.

Being billed later… the doctor, the grocer, the dress shop,… that’s what rich people did. Everyone else did “lay-away”  Credit was a luxury.

When you were growing up, what did you think was “luxurious”?

I thought having a house with more than one floor was luxurious.  One of my earliest dreams was to own a house with a master staircase. And have a credit card. And two phone lines.  And being able to buy a new tire for my car. A NEW tire. That was “luxury” to me.

I remember when answering machines arrived. My parents refused one for a very very long time. My parents are not luddites, but they are logical: “if we buy an item, it will be because we NEED it” was their main philosophy on purchasing things. Because of course, we were very poor.  So an answering machine? “Pah! If we’re not here, what’s the point of a machine telling people we’re not here? they can call back later!”

Then “call waiting” happened. It annoyed my mother. But I was a teenager and my penchant for phone conversations that lasted all night forced my parents to rationalize paying for call waiting. They saw the logic in the purchase the same day we got it. But they didn’t buy an answering machine until they became landlords.

I remember car seats for babies. Shoulder seat belts. VCRs.

But what I remember most?  What changed everything for my family?

Programmable calculators.

My father bought one as soon as they were available. My father has a degree in physic engineering. Nuff said, right?

My father loved the programmable calculator so much he bought the next version as soon as it came out and gave me his old one. I was eleven. That was my first lesson in programming. Looking back, what I learned would be akin to what’s called a “script” or “macro” today- a short program that tells the computer to do a series of steps it already can do. Instead of having to input every step individually, the script or macro calls up the series of steps with one button. We thought this was amazing. I’d been to IBM on a field trip in school more than once so I knew what a computer was. And here was something very much like a computer, that fit into my backpack. Amazing.

So of course PCs came out. Of course my father got one. Like most early nerds, he bought a kit and built it himself. He learned rapidly. He taught some to me. I knew basic before high school. I fiddled with machine code. I learned to make pictures with ASCII.  Fun times.

So what were we doing, socially, back then? Were we really a culture of people going outside all the time, walking around looking at each other, making eye contact and starting up conversations with strangers? Were parents paying rapt attention to their kids in the evenings? Did families go out and do all sorts of “organic” fun? Were we all really acknowledging each other all the time? Were we all full of so much social time that we engaged one another constantly? or even continually? did we use the phone to call each other all the time? did we write letters left and right? Were we a nation of hobbyists and athletes and artists producing and creating and generally making life pleasant without gadgetry?

Well yes, we were.

Did we do it so much more than we do now?

Well no, not really.

We didn’t stop doing any of those things. We haven’t retreated into a silent world of screen-gazing and info-sharing while neglecting the real flesh and blood of relationships any more than we used to sit every night around a campfire and sing kum-bah-ya with locked arms and loving glances.

What we did was trade. In some cases, we traded one type of communication that was cumbersome and time-consuming for much more efficient version of the same.

Do people sit down and write letters that they will later mail at the post office later? Some.  Mostly, people write emails. It’s an exchange that actually broadened the scope of communication and made interaction more commonplace.  Because “snail mail” letter-writing required a significant investment of time, money and mental energy, it wasn’t something everyone did. When a person did choose to write a letter, it was an endeavor which could take up much of their resources and as such meant the letter had to justify said effort. Of course, some people didn’t write their own letters to begin with. Many people would hire someone else more skilled to write on their behalf. Because of this, letter-writing was considered something of a talent; one could actually gain a reputation as a “good letter-writer”. Sending someone your thoughts, ideas and questions wasn’t something to be done lightly. So many people didn’t do it at all. Think of all those thoughts, ideas and questions that never got put out. All that information, clarification and interaction that never happened.

Email erased that and gave the power to exchange to everyone almost equally.

I hear the lamentation that grammar and spelling have gone out the window with the advent of social media and the internet. Some think its because the internet has made people stop caring, taking pride in their expression. I think the internet, for all its egalitarian beauty, merely opened the floodgates for those who are not talented or skilled in letter-writing to attempt to interact anyway. No longer is letter-writing an intimidating prospect that could eat up considerable time and energy. Now anyone can do it, so long as the “rules” for exchange have softened.

Do people sit and have conversations via phone or gathering like they used to? Of course they do. But social media has changed that landscape too. No longer does one have to be subject to the influence of whoever happens to be in their vicinity; with social media, one can choose to interact with whatever type and strata of person they like at any time. Barely speak English? Know nothing about current events? Only interested in discussing llama farming? Find your group online and start talking! now!  Introduce yourself – ah remember that? “introduce yourself”  used to be one of the most dreaded phrases in social gatherings. Standing in front of a crowd of strangers, you had to on-the-spot come up pertinent information about yourself that would entice people to want to know you, accept you and validate you.

Strangers you say? Bah! Why waste time with strangers when you could find an online “gathering” of people you share things in common with. Take as long as you need to write your introduction. Read other people’s posts so you can get a feel for how this group functions and whether you are “on their level” or not. If you realize you’re out of your depth, or sailing above everyone else, you can leave quietly and no one will even remember or care that you stopped by. It’s all in your hands. And if you want, at any time the “real world” is still out there, waiting for you to go join it. But now when you do, you can set your stage beforehand using social media. Much of the dreadful, terrifying unknown has been swept away from socializing now. No more standing around with total strangers wondering how to break the ice, present yourself and find out who everyone is. When you get to your meet-up you come armed with important knowledge that allows you to bypass hours of awkward fumbling and guessing.

So what is all this really building to? What are we getting from social media that isn’t being talked about?

Social media gives us one thing we have never had so much of before in our long history of socializing: the power of independent choice.

Social media is so seductive, attractive and wonderful because while it fulfils our need to be social, it also allows us to control everything about our socializing. Even the power to retreat, if we want to. Often with very little repercussions.

Think back… when you first started getting online, what did you do? When you first started dipping into social media (in my case it was IRC) did you make “mistakes”? How long did it take you to figure out “how this thing works”? Once you figured one social media out -the rules, the rituals, the expectations and of course the tools, how hard was it to move on to another type of social media and figure it out?

Social media doesn’t define our culture. It doesn’t supplant “normal” socializing. It hasn’t killed “facetime” nor has it erased the need for relationships. It has expanded our reach, broadened our capacity for inclusion and lowered the price of interaction for everyone equally.  It has also allowed us to reimagine ourselves as social creatures. The person I am when I play an online game is not quite the same person I am when I discuss current events on a forum. the person I am on my public blog is not the same person I am on my friends-only blog, my facebook, my twitter, my emails… who I am is what I want to be, who I think I need to be for each unique online situation.

I have recently learned something new as well: I am not required to stay the same on any social media. I have grown all my life and social media is no different. My growth has included many lessons about myself, people I know and the world around me. But some of my favorite lessons have been about social media itself and how its changed my expectations and my interactions. I realized recently that I do not have to feel beholden to anyone for an explanation unless I am on a neutral-ownership place. If it is MY facebook, MY blog or MY twitter, I owe no one anything in explanation or expectation. But when I am on a forum, an email list, or any other group, I am no more important or less than any one else in that same  group. I have never felt more equality than when in online discussions. Despite the fact that there are still bigots, assholes and patronizing jerks, the general tenor of online groups are egalitarian. We are all anonymous to some degree and yet we all have reputations as well. We gather personality traits over time like any other form of socializing. Yet because of the differences in online interactions and “real life” interaction, those traits are seen more as individual traits than indicators of whatever classifications of humanity I belong to. I may have a reputation for being quick-tempered and mouthy but I am not taken to be the token spokesperson for all white, disabled, female bisexuals. My traits are indicative of ME. Unlike many “real time” interactions wherein any type of noticeable reactive traits can easily be considered hallmarks of “your kind”  The anonymity of the online world is good like that.

Lastly, I want to touch upon the intricate nature of social media’s place in parenting. Obviously, I am a big fan of parenting forums as my recent post about Special Needs Parenting forums clearly showed.  But overall, social media has given parents a gift that has no ‘real life” component: individualized networking.

Before social media, parents had magazines and some books. If you wanted to meet other parents, the best you could do was to join the PTA or church group. If you did, you had to hope there were other parents who had similiar parenting philosophies but more importantly, you had to hope that your philosophies were NOT the type to get you branded as “one of THOSE parents” by the majority of wherever you were. Because if you went to your local school and mentioned an unpopular parenting idea…  you were stuck for the next 12 years. You could be outcast, ostracized, gossip-fodder possibly even harassed through CPS if you said the “wrong” thing. So parents have gained solidarity in social media but they have also gained something more valuable: understanding and acceptance. Which goes both ways. Nowadays, even if you live in backwater USA and your entire PTA goes to church every day of the week, think Jesus rode dinosaurs and women must wear hats everywhere they go, even then, you still have heard of other parenting philosophies. You may not like them, you may think they are weird, but , you’ve heard of them and you know, whether grudgingly or happily, that you must have some level of tolerance.

And that first tiny foot-in-the-door of tolerance? Is better than humanity has had for the last thousand or so years.

Because of social media.

So yes, go out occasionally. Talk to people sometimes. Smile at strangers. Enjoy “real life” interaction. Its just as wonderful as its always been. But I suspect people haven’t stopped doing those things or craving them.

People just need to be reminded once in a while that social media enhances interaction, even as it doesn’t replace it. They live side-by-side, supporting each other. Use them both wisely.

This one is short. No really.

I’ll probably construct a scathing long ranty-rant based on this story:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/08/16/the-campaign-against-amy-davis-roth/

But right now, I’m just gonna say a couple of things for people to cogitate.

Atheist Guys (and I do mean that in a literal sense), please reflect upon how this is going down and the inevitable outcomes. Regardless of where you fall on the asshole-meter, you’ve got to admit that hounding someone who has been a staunch (un)believer in your geekery is bound to essentially piss-off, scare-off and otherwise offend scads of women who might potentially be a staunch supporter of your geekery as well. Let me put that in even simpler terms: regardless of whether you agree with the hounds or not, it is hounding. 4Chan/anonymous style. Why? Because you really want to ensure no more women get the radical notion that they can complain about being harrassed? Are you honest-to-gawd defending your right to be an asshole?

ASK YOURSELF WHY.

WHY is it important to hound and harrass a member of your group because they don’t like the way they are treated? Are you trying to prove that they are “wrong” about being treated badly? You’re treating them badly because you think they “deserve it” or “asked for it”? Do you think they secretly like it?

WHAT IS THIS FOR?

Because other than making damned sure you get less and less women joining your group (of Atheists? really guys?) I can’t see what the point of this whole shit-storm is supposed to be.

I’m not touching the whole point of Skepchick and anti-harrassment. You know why? Because CLEARLY male atheists who group together specifically with other male atheists don’t give a rats ass about whether women feel comfortable or not. OBVIOUSLY sexual harrassment isn’t something that makes a dent in their self-righteous simian craniums.

So let me leave you with this little nugget: the reason you people (Grouped Atheists) are so fucking unpopular isn’t because everyone’s stupid. Its because everyone’s too socially intelligent to join your pathetic little circle-jerk excuse for a life. Other Atheists who would only admit to being atheists under torture avoid you jackasses like the plague you know why? Because you’re assholes.

So if you’re one of the rare male atheists who groups with other atheists and actually thinks women are people who deserve to feel comfortable and don’t walk around with a boulder ‘o’bitter on your back, then do yourself a favor: don’t associate with these cretins any longer. There’s plenty other geeky events you can go to that have Atheist panels and the like (although personally I don’t understand the need for Atheists to sit around together talking about being atheists) that are quite open and honest about their desire to make sure all their attendees are comfortable.

And Amy? Quit. You’ve surely suffered enough. You won’t get anywhere with this crowd. Stop trying to get the neanderthals to act like men. They’ve shown their maturity level. Stop thinking they are the epitome of Atheist representation. Surely there are enough decent humane Atheists who won’t descend en masse like a pack of adolescent weasels who found a rabbit in a tunnel whenever another atheist dares to talk about uncomfortable things like oppression. Go find decent polite atheists who actually care about other people’s comfort and have fun with them. Please. Because this shit is just horrible and you shouldn’t think you are bound by some kind of feminist honor code to continue putting up with it. No such code exists. When men as a group decide to treat you this way, its time to let them have their little clubhouse and go make your own.

 

I wish you every success Amy.

exploiting the peculiarities of the internet

Since no one comments here (you do know you can comment, right?) despite the fact that I know there’s at least 5 regular readers and I’m getting about 40views per post (do I even know that many people?) I figured I could tackle a subject here that is a very delicate discussion. A subject people take very personally, are easily riled about and can’t wait to tell everyone else how wrong they are about it. I’m talking, of course, about Facebook.

I have a Facebook page.

Hell, saying that is like saying “I have feet” Sure, some folks don’t have one but let’s just not worry about those poor poor folk right now.

I have a Facebook and I practically live on FB most days. I don’t spend more than 45mins at one time on FB but part of what I love about it is its instantaneous and rapid nature; people post stuff that mostly is short and sweet. I can easily scroll on by anything I am not interested in, using “open in new tab” allows me to quickly bookmark stuff I want to look at in depth, and I can respond almost instantly to anything posted.

All this is in direct comparison to blogs which seem slow and clunky once you get “spoiled” by Facebook. Facebook really appeals to the energetic side of me. But you know, one thing that continues to intrigue me is the absolutely different attitudes people seem to have about Facebook. Again, compared to blogs (Livejournal, Dreamwidth, Blogger/Blogspot/Wordpress) Facebook seems to have conjured up entirely different camps of attitude and approach. Here’s some quick observations:

  • “Facebook is superficial” this can be either the “i only get on here because my friends insisted but I’ve got better things to do with my time” as well as “Let’s just post silly and unimportant things like pics of cuddly kittens and people getting punkd, tee hee”
  • “Facebook is my soapbox” – whether political, dietary, religious or sexual, some people only enjoy the whole “world as my audience” aspect of it
  • “Facebook is my mini-journal” – this can be either the “let me tell you what I ate for lunch” posts or the “I want to put every feeling I have from moment-to-moment all day”
  • “Facebook is my billboard” – similar to the “Facebook is superficial” in that you get a lot of memes and reposts but it bleeds into the “Soapbox” crowd too
  • “Facebook is for my fanbase” – not talking about actual celebrities or artists but ordinary people who at some point realize that Facebook is a way to selectively show yourself to others who don’t know you that well. This is how they begin to build a cadre of people who rilly rilly like them even though their “fans” don’t know anything actually, you know, PERSONAL about them. Obviously this intersects with all the previous points as well
  • “Facebook” is my yardstick for friendship – heaven forfend you take one of those people off your main list. Obviously you hate them.
  • “Facebook is how I will build my notoriety” – not the same as “FB is my fanbase” because these are people who use FB only as a way to broadcast their other web-related endeavors. Lots of writers do this. Smart people make a separate FB page for that though

I think most people do not use any these to the exclusion of all others, but most people do tend to lean more towards one or two than the others.  I think of that as “personal diversity” but its probably more accurate to call it something like “Facebook Attitude”. Because attendant to all those previous is more than just a POV or personal approach to  using Facebook, it becomes, over time, a self-assuring cycle that reinforces one’s belief that not just one’s OWN Facebook is like this, but ALL Facebook should be like this. I mean we all recognize intellectually that people who post or write on any social medium are going to have their own way of doing things but we still seem to get more and more judgey about how other people going about doing that. I used to see this a lot with LiveJournal was my primary soshmed but because LJ lends itself to longer, more personalized content, it was easier for people to tolerate and accept the varying styles of presentation. Indeed many people (especially the proto-writer types like myself) tended to enjoy the diversity of presentation and content. Facebook, however, doesn’t seem to bring people down that path. This is why I’m calling it “Facebook Attitude”

So here’s the thing; I notice that I, myself, have started to have Facebook Attitude. I do think, however, that I’m “right”. Of course.

See, for me, Facebook is short and sweet. People dash off a post in fractions of a second and comments can be even faster with the ubiquitous “like” button. You can even play Facebook Friend-Hop. You comment on a friends post, you notice a friend of theirs says something similar (or completely opposite) so you engage with that friend for a minute maybe then of course you HAVE to hop over to their wall and read “about’ that friend-of-friend then sometimes while you’re doing that, you see some friend of theirs who seems interesting and you’re off to another person’s wall…

Anyway, the point is, Facebook can turn into nearly a game (and it even HAS games!) if you like that sort of short-attention-span surprise party of the mind kind of thing.  Ever play “dictionary hop”? Of course you have. You could play it for hours, right? Curiosity, man, it does amazing things to people. So of course Facebook is wonderful for that kind of light-hearted superficial-ish interaction whether it be with people we know and love, people we are mere acquaintances with or complete strangers who show up out of nowhere. Its “safe” because it is the anonymous internet.

Yet Facebook does not have to become a quagmire of flaming trolls running around ruining decent folks’ fun. Why? Because you can “block” trolls. And it feels good when you do: Ahhhh! Yes, Facebook is a mild amusement park of soshmed with enough controls to make anybody feel reasonable comfortable. It’s like a block party. I really like it. Go ahead, sneer at me. I bet you like it too.

What I don’t like, (here comes the downturn) is the other side of that coin. The people who take Facebook seriously. As mentioned before, these are the people who see their FB “popularity” as somehow meaningful in the larger, realer world. This means they post always mindful of how their post will make them look. This does not mean they post mindful of how their post makes other people react, though. I find this alternately amusing and frustrating. These people post things that have almost guaranteed reactions of one kind or another yet do not like the fact that their posts are not immune to said reactions. As if the whole of soshmed is somehow going to bypass them because they, of course, are so *speshulsnowflake* (cue fairy-like glockenspiel trill).

Here’s another bullet list (yay!)

  • Socio-political posts by people who get angry that comments lead to arguments among their friends. Really dude? You post a link to an incendiary op-ed that details a specific socio-political viewpoint then you are pissed that people start arguing? Really? Are you hosting a Barney and friends party or are you just waiting for an excuse to delete comments? I mean, between the set-up and the expectation and the mod-actions it just seems cruel to do this …or stupid. Take your pick.
  • Religious posts by people who get annoyed when someone disagrees with the specifics of the religious statement (especially when said dissenter is the same religion). I can’t believe there’s a person in America (I’m not going to pretend I write for or even fully fathom other cultures) who thinks that their religious views are universally shared by all, or even shared by all their friends and loved ones.
  • Parenting posts by people who get competitive if another parent shares or doesn’t share their sentiment. It’s a whole world of discontent in that but on Facebook especially it’s gotten beyond annoying. Parenting is something that is different for everyone. We all know this. So why is it when someone posts a parenting POV they flip out when someone comments to the contrary? Or worse, tries to one-up them if the commentor agrees with their own version? I am amazed at how snotty parents can be on a regular basis on Facebook of all places.
  • “Anti” cause posts by people who take it very personally if you bother to point out that you are not “anti” too. No quarter given. You’re not a child-free atheist vegan too? YOU EVIL. It really starts to look as if the real motive here is conversion by provocation. Not cool, people, not cool.
  • “Cause” posts by people who will argue vociferously if you dare to inform them (with proof) that their post is misinformed (or a hoax or fabrication). This one gets me most of all. If you post something based on some information you gleaned from somewhere, don’t you think it behooves you to maybe possibly cross-check that stuff before you post it? Maybe just a little?
  • Sneaky Bragging.  Now I’m not one to say no one should toot their own horn, but I’ve seen some real verbal acrobatics people get into in order to brag. There’s posting pictures of all the food you cooked and talking about how delicious it is, but not posting any recipes. There’s posting several self-portraits in sexy poses and captioning them with things like “oh my nose is so big, I’m so embarrassed”. There’s detailing all the clever decorations you made for a party that is invite-only.  There’s talking about your puppy’s new-found ability to bark.  Hell there’s just posting “I do this completely normal thing but because not many other people do it, I must be special” (birthing and feeding methods spring to mind here) which is closely related to “I’m so strange because I ___” – Okay yes, you are all very special people. Its wonderful you do ____ are a part of ____ have some special _____ in your life. But its hard for me to look positively on your posting about it when the most I can contribute to this “conversation” is “oh okay. how nice for you” I’ve even seen people post their sexual peculiarities with accompanying “tee hee! I’m such a pervert!” Sometimes I really think everyone in the world is dying to be recognized for some unique aspect as if its the utmost pinnacle of uniqueness. Yes, we are all unique. I love hearing about my friends’ interesting adventures in life, but that doesn’t mean I get excited over every minor thing you do that you think is “so quirky! tee hee!” After a while, it just seems like bragging. Pointless bragging. I want to hear about interesting things but I’d like it if the expressions of those interesting things were matched in qualitative terms with the importance of the actual event. If your kid takes their first step, that’s wonderful! If your kid draws a straight line that’s… nice. If they draw a straight line when they are six? I’m scratching my head over why you’re telling me in such grandiose terms.

 

Ultimately, this all boils down to a Facebook Attitude of “this is my special private world where I am immune to the usual rules of interaction and discourse”

Yeah, not so much, people.

What’s really amazing to me is that not only is the perpetrator under the mistaken belief that they can bypass the normal social mores, but that everyone else must suspend them on their behalf and adopt the mores the poster declares to be “the real rules”. Like when someone posts a political hot-topic then is upset that their friends end up arguing on their wall. Well okay YOU don’t want to have anyone argue with YOU, I can sort of understand that (though its still ridiculously naive to think that’s going to happen) but you don’t even want your friends to argue with each other?!  I certainly get behind the whole “play nice” edict but come on! “play nice” isn’t resting on your personal definition of what “nice” means. “Play nice” doesn’t mean “sit down and shut up”

This is soshmed, folks. Its where people go to gather and exchange bits and pieces of themselves however small, large, relevant or personal. When you make a post on Facebook, you are not making a radio advertisement, you’re engaging in interactive media. If you don’t want other people to weigh in, start a blog with comments blocked.