Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Six reasons I hate Facebook

Sometimes I hate Facebook, and it's not just because of Timeline.

Mostly I love it.  I would not be writing this blog if I hadn't been inspired by a Facebook post.  The sense of community that Facebook provides is comforting to this isolated pencil portrait artist.  I have no other coworker drama and/or chatter to entertain me (except for my awesome mom).  Plus it scratches my ADD itchy-itches by providing an endless parade of distractions.

However, Facebook can cause serious problems for someone with already questionable work discipline.  Unlike my lucky son Max who so enjoys when I say, "turn off the video games and practice your trombone," I have nobody to chide me for spending too much time doing things I shouldn't.  Like trying to find my evil ex-boyfriend online or watching that weird talking cat video that you just posted or writing this blog instead of drawing.  (P.S. I found a photo of my ex, "Dick", online and he got FAT.)

On one hand, Facebook allows me to have a fake social life and market my pencil portrait business.  On the other hand, Facebook stirs up trouble.

Problem 1:  Screwing around

Everyone relates to typical Facebook voyeur and/or exhibitionist time wasting.  In addition, I accidentally developed an embarrassing crystal meth-like addiction to mindless Facebook games like Bejeweled and Zuma Blitz.  My husband Joe actually mentioned this addiction in our family Christmas letter, which I promptly edited out.  Joe HATES to be edited as he is an enormous fan of his own comedy.  He has disgustedly reminded me of this edit a couple times, convinced that my Bejeweled obsession warranted a mention.  Sorry, but my game-playing shame spiral was just too severe at that time and the pride I took in my high scores was a private, beautiful thing that I did not want printed alongside the kids' sports activities.  I am relieved to report that I quit playing games cold turkey and even spent a good hour or so trying to figure out how to block myself from ever playing them again. 
(You can't.) 

Don't you do it.  Do not click.  Dammit, there goes two hours.

After I stopped playing, my game-accompanying wine and cheez-it consumption was much reduced and my productivity went way up.  I recently rewarded myself for getting a bunch of work done by allowing myself to play a few games for the first time in many months, and I find myself yearning for more. 

I must not chase that dragon.

Problem 2: Jesus and Obama

This kid is probably 30 by now.
If you are my friend on Facebook, I am connected to you, somehow.  I have a few requests from people who have 59 mutual friends, but I honestly can't remember them for the life of me.  Photos are often no help.  Unlike my kids who collect FB friends like Pokemon cards (let's pretend it's still 2002, I don't know what kids collect now), I don't want you on my personal friend list if you are a stranger.  However, I don't know everyone on my list that well.  And some of you like to talk about Jesus and Obama.  A lot.  I have the deepest respect for faith and I sort of admire the passion that some people have about our country's leaders unless you get super annoying about it.  But my Facebook is a place for talking about things that are mainstream and comfortable to me, like booze and family and being forgetful.  I like all your borderline obscene jokes, your unfortunate bar photos and even your child/spouse/pet bragging tributes.  I'm sort of annoyed by your "Like this post if you love your cousin" shares, but I'll let those slide even though you and I have better things to do with our time.  But if you start ranting about Jesus or Obama, I'm out.  UNSUBSCRIBE.  But sometimes, it's too late.  I can't unsee your post, and sometimes it makes me sad and worried about you.  I'm sure you're sad and worried about me too and that is a problem with Facebook. 

This goes out to you, Tina beans.

Problem 3: Jealousy

Maybe you look skinny in your photos.  Maybe you are out with our mutual friends having fun without me.  Maybe you are having conversations with people I don't even know (thank you weird rolling nanny-cam feed up the side of the screen) and those conversations are funnier than my conversations.  Whatever, I'm jealous.

Problem 4: Annoying others

The flip side of Problem 2, is that sometimes I'm the one with the Jesus/Obama-esque post that makes YOU mad.  That's okay if you quietly unsubscribe from me like a normal person.  I've seen some serious scuffles between complete strangers on a mutual friend's post.  (Ellie, I'm thinking of the stolen locker clothes throwdown.)  This can be hilarious for the rest of us, but I have the emotional constitution of a battered four year old.  If I'm involved in one of those scuffles, my saran-wrap emotional protective layer gets immediately ripped and I lie awake sulking for days.  I avoid arguments and negativity like the plague in my interactions with others. 

STOP TAGGING ME in photos!

Once a friend called and scolded me for sharing too many things on Facebook.  The friend asked whether I felt I was extremely important or whether I was so damn lonely I felt the need to post every time I go to the bathroom.  The friend continued to complain about other friends who enjoy posting very regularly.  I sent my friend instructions on how to remove those friends (including me) from the newsfeed.  This friend doesn't get my posts anymore and I have another war wound to pout over.  Facebook was not helpful in this particular relationship.  But that was mild...

Problem 5: Making enemies

I considered including this story as part of Problem 4, but this is really another level.  Sometimes I am a smart ass... perhaps you've noticed.  I NEVER want to hurt anyone's feelings, ever, but I really like to joke around.  Like Joe, I find myself rather entertaining.  Plus, I have trouble with self control.

A former coworker, who only reached out to me when he needed something, was a semi-friend in my corporate life.  Now, we're barely acquaintances.  The "friend", who we will refer to as "Jackass", posted a rave review on Facebook about the television show Parenthood.  For some reason, I found it kind of funny that a guy would gush about this particular show.  It seemed girly.  So I called him a skirt or something like that, in a JOKING way. 

In retrospect, this was a poor choice on my part.  But that's how we roll at my house.  If you do something slightly out of character, we automatically begin a competitive juvenile joke-off about each other.  Unlike my twelve year old, Jackass has ZERO sense of humor when it comes to himself.  He replied to my comment with some sort of incredulous statement like "What???  Why would you say THAT?"  Then he deleted my comment.  Censureship?!!  "You deleted my funny?" I posted, and he deleted that too. 

So I unfriended him.

This was the first time I'd unfriended anyone, but this person wasn't really a friend.  Just a prior coworker from 8+ years ago who wasn't much of a friend then, either.  This guy is way too sensitive (and that's coming from me for Pete's sake), and he doesn't appreciate my sense of humor, so that was about enough of that. 

Months later, I bumped into him while lunching downtown with a former work buddy.  He introduced us to his boss and began aggressively mentioning things that had been happening in my life.  I found this surprising, as I'd unfriended him and I don't give a rat turd about what's happening with him, so why was he so overly informed about me?  Then he proceeded to start bragging about his boss in an almost romantic manner.  "Wow!" I observed, in a joking tone, "You sure are a maestro of ass-kissing."  Or something like that.  Everyone laughed, including his boss, because he was REALLY laying it on thick.  I like to make jokes.  I'm not a corporate person anymore and as a civilian, I can say what I want to say, although I often have to face the consequences.  Besides, Jackass was being a jackass.

And then I received this message at 1:23 am.

There are many things I love about this message.  The misspelling of "Tourette's", the apostrophe deficiency, the abundance of "...", the total defensive foot-stomping of it all, the comparison to his poor wife who has to LIVE with him.  I have news for YOU, Jackass, I now own a big girl tent and have you forgotten that you PAID for a portrait of your kids from me and RAVED about it for years? And NEWS ALERT, Jackass, I have a friend who lived in a trailer park and she runs rings around you in EVERY category.

Mostly, this note smacks of the fact that I really, really hurt Jackass's feelings with that unfriending.  When we worked together, I regularly made jokes much worse than the ass-kissing observation.  And yet, I was probably out of line then, too.  If he'd told me in an adult way that it bothered him, I would have fallen over myself to apologize.  I admit that I have a problem acting like a grown up sometimes.  I have a friend who constantly shushes me in groups because I'm too loud, especially when I'm telling inappropriate personal stories.  I know I'm not classy.  Especially now that I've had some time and distance, this nasty, mean, furious note is pretty funnyespecially since he was clearly drinking and messaging... I mean, it was 1:23 am.  Sadly, I'm no stranger to late-night mean drunk messages and I know them when I see them.  He wanted to be the one who unfriended ME and called ME the ass-kisser, so there!!!  I guess he showed me!!!  And he did.  At first, I was devastated that I'd made somebody so upset and that his words were so hateful.

I learned a very important lesson...

Problem 6: Facebook can be MEAN.

Unfriending, blocking, changing relationship status to single... the impact of how small the world has become and what we can do to each other in "public" is brutal.  In pre-Facebook days, I would have blissfully lost contact with this big fat Jackass and never thought of him again.  Instead, I accidentally hurt his feelings with an unnecessary comment about his obsession with Parenthood.  I did send him a sincere apology, explaining that he misinterpreted my comments as being deliberately rude, when they were meant as affectionate teasing.  There was no response, and that's okay.  I try to be more careful about my questionable sense of humor now and I never unfriend anyone.  I just take them off my newsfeed or block them from seeing my posts like any normal passive aggressive person should.

Mostly, I've learned that if you do unfriend someone, don't forget to unfriend his wife.