Recently, several friends have declared that they’d had enough of Facebook and were leaving for good. The primary reason for one was that it seemed “Facebook (like cell phones) is very much like a giant angel food cake with thick creamy icing. It provides a huge amount of calories with almost no nutrition.”
I get this. There’s such a volume of frivolous posts to scroll through in my newsfeed or timeline. Even though I’ve systematically “unfollowed” a number of fringe acquaintances, there’s still a ton of verbage (with little substance) to get past before I can find the meaningful connections, informative or entertaining posts I enjoy.
Another friend feels that certain individuals share way too much. It takes the form of sniping, victimhood, emotions, rants, empty-headedness or oversharing of personal activities and information. “What motivates someone to be so confessional and all-revealing, or in other cases, to be so asinine or frivolous?” His conclusion falls within the bounds of Theodore Roosevelt’s famous quote: “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Or along the same lines, from Maya Angelou: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
These friends are leaving Facebook because they don’t like how it makes them feel and/or how it affects their relationship with their family and friends.
I would guess most of us have experienced a negative reaction to a Facebook post. Sometimes, it’s about the one posting. It raises feelings of annoyance, disrespect, cynicism, outrage or incredulity. Sometimes it’s about us. It leaves us feeling targeted, shocked, criticized, minimized, disregarded, embarrassed, impotent to help the other. Any of these can breed frustration and alienation.
Do you respond to these posts? Scroll on by? Or do you quietly unfollow the poster? They’ll never know! Perhaps you unfriend them (which could cause some drama if you know them in daily life or you’re related to them). Maybe you’re willing to stick it out and just hope they grow up or change. If you care about them, do you try to privately help them understand their “over-sharing” is harming their reputation and your relationship?
Not everyone wants to know the intimate or mundane details of your life, your immediate emotional state of mind, the problem you have with your spouse/child/boss/in-laws/police/politician, what you ate for dinner, what bodily functions aren’t functioning, or your views on politics and religion. And that’s just for starters. The things that annoy people on social media are as diverse as the one billion people who use it every day.
I personally choose Facebook as my platform of choice to connect with far-away family and friends, to keep up with significant events and milestones, to learn how to pray for them and to privately message or video-chat with them on more personal matters. It has enabled me to connect with childhood friends, classmates and extended family members I never knew. But while this is my reason for staying on connected on this forum, there are significant drawbacks.
If I feel this way, I figure others do too, so I did a straw poll on my Facebook feed to ask others what annoys them enough to unfollow, unfriend or avoid certain Facebook friends. Here’s a few general categories, with actual examples.
Disclaimer: If you feel this is being targeted at you, it’s not. I have no personal vendetta and no desire to shame anyone. This is an application of the old saying, “If the shoe fits, wear it.” This is an opportunity to examine yourself closely in the mirror and give heed to what, perhaps, you could change about your online persona that may be affecting your reputation and creating significant rifts or irreversible damage to your relationships.
1. The Narcissist
Selfies here, selfies there, everywhere a selfie, selfie. “Here are 159 pictures from my vacation. Here’s one of me, up close, and one of us up close and twelve dozen of us far away and close up and all the rest are of me and us and all of our closest friends and our server up close and, oh, right, I almost forgot, here’s one picture of where we went.”
2. The Exhibitionist
“Look at me! Look at me! in all my pictures with as little clothing as possible. Or notice if I hold the camera at the right angle you can get a lovely view of my cleavage.”
“Here’s a picture of me in the bathroom mirror because it shows my abs so nicely, don’t you think? Of course I’m not telling you how many shots it took (100+) for me to get it just right.”
3. The Manipulator
“Like and share if you agree.”
“If you don’t share and post this on your page, you’ll be cursed.”
“If you’re not ashamed… share this post.”
“Everyone is touched by (insert name of disease here), so post this on your status for one hour to show your support.”
“If I don’t see your name, I’ll understand.”
4. Needy Nellie
“I don’t think anyone reads my status, can you post one word so I know you are reading my posts?”
“I wonder if I said ‘hello’, how many people would say it back?”
“No one in my entire church/community/club/team is helping me. I’m all alone and no one cares.”
“Can I get an ‘Amen’ or a thumbs up or a like and share?”
“Can I get 1 million likes for…(insert issue, cause or little kid picture)”
"I know no one will read this post...... let's find out who my real friends are."
"If you love me you'll comment on this post that I have obviously copied and pasted from other needy friends."
“I don’t know whether this post I’m sharing is true, but it sounds like it.”
“I share everything I read because I have no life or opinion of my own.”
6. The Zealot
“Here’s the latest product, ideology, philosophy, theology or cute quote which I like, use or believe is the best thing going and if you don’t like, use or believe the same, I’m on a higher moral plain than you and here are ten reasons why you’re an idiot.”
7. The Troll (aka The Hater)
“I disagree. And if you don’t agree with me, then I obviously haven’t explained myself well enough, so let me just repeat myself. If you still don’t agree after that, well, obviously you’re hard of hearing so let me just RAISE MY VOICE. And if you still are so numbskulled as to believe your viewpoint is right and mine is wrong, I will begin to call you names, use profanity and suggest you are a waste of skin.”
8. The Sales Call
“I have discovered the secret to everything, my life will never be the same, and I am spending the rest of my entire existence on Facebook trying to get you to become part of my multi-level-marketing organization.”
9. The Cryptic
“I can’t believe that just happened.”
“My life will never be the same.”
“I am in utter shock and disbelief.”
“Off to emergency room… pray!!!”
10. The Confessor
“I’ve done something terrible and I have to come clean.”
"Let me just tell you way more than you ever wanted to know about my private life."
11. The Braggart
Female: “Look at what my sweet honey bought me for Christmas/birthday/no reason because he’s just the most fabulous prince ever or because I manipulated and threatened him into it and he knows ‘happy wife, happy life’. LOLOLOLOL”
Male version: “See picture of me posing with hot car, hot bike, hot babes or cold beer.”
12. The Legalist
“Sign this (completely useless and ineffective) petition for (whatever pet issue of the day is creating outrage in my social circle).”
“If you don’t live your life in the way I describe, you are going straight to hell.”
"If you support that other political party, you are an idiot."
“If you don’t hear “Merry Christmas” from every retail clerk you encounter this season, you’re being persecuted.”
“I do not give Facebook permission to….”
* * * *
Well, I hope you had fun laughing with me through the ridiculousness of some of these items. I’m sure others can poke fun at me from their own perspective. The main thing is, let’s use technology in ways that help make relationships grow, not the opposite.
Have you experienced other types of posts that have tempted you to unfriend or unfollow someone?