By NICOLE BURROWS
THE jury is still out on the true utility of Facebook and whether it improves our lives more than it damages them.
From where I sit, it has a few good uses, but mainly it functions more as a petri dish for social experimentation. Maybe that’s the end game. Maybe it’s just one huge social experiment, dissecting human behaviour and psychology to predict next moves, with its subjects being studied with their freely-given consent because, after all, its social networking.
Maybe the social media giant is close friends with the FBI, like many conspiracy theorists believe. Maybe it’s the informant to every jurisdictional law enforcement agency, the RBPF included. Who knows.
Still, Facebook remains the most popular social media platform. It certainly gets the word out, whatever or wherever the word is, especially if you’re willing to have a public profile and/ or pay for ad campaigns.
I’m no true Facebook member. I’ve had dozens of profiles over the years, some by mistake, others quite intentional. In this metamorphosis, I’ve come to learn some interesting things about Facebook, and how to manipulate it, that the casual user would never observe.
When I engage you on Facebook, please note that you reserve the right not to accept my “Friend Request”. Chances are I’ve forgotten if it means so much to you, because it means much less to me. It’s Facebook, man, not a marriage proposal. Though, I could see how some personalities may have become confused by the realness of the Facebook fantasy.
FYI, the only thing in my News Feed is actual News. When I want to knock on your door and see how you’ve been, I’ll drop by your Facebook page at my leisure. That is my idea of Facebook etiquette. So please don’t be upset if I didn’t catch your last 11 posts. For people with extreme detail disorder, this drive-by social media management method works best.
Beyond a certain point, Facebook just gets too complicated to maintain, if you want to minimize exposure and maximize privacy. The privacy settings are illusory anyway. They say – and I concur – that you should never post anything on Facebook that you wouldn’t want the world to see. Which reminds me, when you don’t have an account on full “lockdown”, because you’re negligent or just unaware, you do know that everyone can still see the lewd pages and people you follow, right?
But, for the purpose it was intended, is Facebook beneficial? Do the pros of Facebook outweigh the cons? What does Facebook do to and/ or say about the individual mental capacities of its almost 1.5 billion monthly active users? I’ve identified 10 types of those users, and, true to Facebook form, I wonder who will think I’m writing this about them.
The narcissist egomaniacs – they take endless selfies. These people are Facebook’s best users. They should get gifts for supplying Facebook with so much “content”. The only thing you haven’t seen from these guys or gals is pics of them on the toilet. Yet? Perhaps toilet pics are too real for fake people? They change their profile pic at least once per day; they post a photo of self doing nothing in particular at least every few hours; or they may take a series of selfies and post the full dozen at once because they can’t decide which face is their best side.
What did people do before smartphones and social media? How did they express their personality disorders and human weaknesses? Could they return to those far-gone days where they kept their egos to themselves and anyone they came into direct contact with? I often wonder.
If you’re gonna take 20 pictures of yourself, at least switch it up a little – take off the fakeup, the hair, the eyelashes, the push up bra, the push up breasts, and let us see how confident you really are.
The desperate attention-seeker – posts endless naked T&A pics. Wait, I’m confused. Is this social sharing, or straight up porn? And I’m not referring to the tasteful visual art with a purpose, but the might-as-well-be fully spread and naked shots which leave nothing to the imagination. I have a great imagination! Please let me use it.
Young girls, sadly, are the biggest offenders here. I have to wonder if they really think this brings them the kind of people who would look out for their best interests. If you’re grown up, to each his own, I guess. You may be big enough to take care of yourself. But these children... what are they thinking?
The overcompensating and insecure – my favourite group. You’re married, dating, engaged in real life, and you make sure that Facebook and all your followers know this. You have yourself and your significant other tagged for ownership. That’s right; because nothing ever stopped a man or woman who intended to have another relationship like making sure they are “yours” on your/ their Facebook profile. Please.
And every birthday, or special occasion, or, shucks, every blessed day for no reason whatsoever, you declare your undying love for the man or the woman who changed your life, saved you from the fiery pits of hell, showed you what love really was (?), and who, by grace and mercy will keep wanting to share life with you for 100 more years. Hurl.
Seriously? I have so much (more) respect for the couples who are happily and quietly together on Facebook or other social media, but live a real relationship in real life. They may or may not be tagged as “married”/ “engaged”/ “in a relationship”/ “it’s complicated”, but you figure they could probably be happy, or at least comfortable, because they’re not breaking their necks trying to prove it to themselves or anyone or everyone else. Not that they should even care what you think.
And if they’re not happy, which in my Facebook experience is more often than not, one part of the couple is posting undying love, while the other is trying to arrange hot sex on the side. I promise, one day soon, I’m gonna write an exposé about all the Facebook unrelationships. But not yet; I need some more material.
In the meantime, can we have a moment of silence (and a chuckle from those who think the way I do) for the oversharer who just got dumped, or is, at present, being dumped, or, is en route to being dumped and is the only one who doesn’t see it coming? Whatever will you do with all the immortal Facebook remains? Man, you asked for it.
Ooh, ooh... my all-time favourite: the woman who just posted how loving and attentive “her man” is and how much other women have to worry about what their significant others get up to but she doesn’t, meanwhile, “her man” is messaging me wanting to know how he can pleasure me. I think my point is made.
The deeply – no, excessively – religious. We understand you found yourself, your love, your god, etc., but please stop tagging everyone in every inspirational meme you come across, and resist the oversharing of what should be a deeply personal experience. Few people ever get “saved” by forcefeeding them scripture/quotes. Posting these things once in a while is encouragement or inspiration; when it’s every single thing you post, that’s extremism. Get a balanced life, man. And that goes for the “share this or you’ll die”, “share this or you’ll get 75 years of bad luck”, or the “share this or feel guilty forever” posts.
The high-flyer and high-roller. This one can’t go five minutes without showing and telling why they are fabulous, how many fabulous people they know, how many fabulous places they’ve been, how many fabulous things they own. The less said about these clowns the better, because you’ll roll your eyes so hard along with me you won’t be able to finish reading this.
The bitter, vindictive, miserable ones who need friends and will friend anyone. Most of what you get from them is a row or a confrontation with, to, or at someone. They’re always angry and want you to be angry with them. Misery and Co.
The sales people. They only visit Facebook to sell their wares. Food, information, merchandise, lies...
Their goals for Facebook or any social media platform is commercial gain. Enterprising? You can’t hate them for that. Where else can you find millions of people with nothing to do who are willing to spend money on something to relieve them of themselves? But please stop tagging me all the time in the ads, banners, invites, etc., that I have absolutely nothing to do with, or plan to not get upset when I untag myself.
The stalkers and weirdos. They have a profile especially to watch you. They never post anything, they never like anything, they never comment on anything, but if you meet them out around town they can tell you what you ate for dinner last Tuesday, where you last vacationed and how you got there, and what colour your hair was this time last year. They seem harmless enough, that is, the ones you actually know or can identify. But the bona fide stalker thrives in the Facebook shadows and your life gives them life. They adore you, and they might actually tell you this. They want to be like you. They want to be you. Facebook has a nice Report and Block feature for them. Though, I’m finding out that Facebook also has an unusual moral code – what passes for threatening often seems just fine to them. So you should decide: block, delete, unfriend, or just leave the platform altogether.
The seriously grammatically challenged. I never realized how many people were functionally illiterate or how many of them were people I knew. I can’t decide if I should feel sorry or bad or annoyed and horrified. Yes – I AM one of those people who will correct your grammar and spelling in social media. Best you just use pictures. Don’t try to caption them if you don’t have a proofreader. I’m serious. Three hundred likes on a two-line post with six grammar and spelling errors? I don’t care how uplifting it is, I can’t bring myself to like or share it, i.e., endorse the illiteracy. It just looks bad. I’ll never take you seriously when you don’t take your own presentation seriously. And I’m guessing I am not the only one.
The wanna-bes. They have an active Facebook profile, but they refuse to learn how to properly use it. They repost the same things over and over again.
They don’t position their photos properly – cover, profile, or thumbnail. They upload photos without rotating them. They put private messages on public posts. They post in the wrong places. They hit the enter key after every line of their 10-line comment, so that each line is a separate post. -_-
So, now that we’ve established that Facebook is a minefield of personality, social, and other disorders, I can summarize its best uses as follows:
1) Commercial advertising
2) Keeping or restoring communication with lost or distant friends (not lovers) and family
Personally, I await the next big thing in social media that will rival Facebook, putting the controls in users’ hands, even if it’s a paid service. I’m also awaiting the next big, free email provider, but I’ve been waiting on that one for a while now.