Friday, August 09, 2013

I Know: It's My Problem, Not Yours

One-a-Day Redux
Day Nine:  Daily Routine

As much as I hate to admit it, checking Facebook has become part of my daily routine. I like to log on and read posts from family members, good friends, the local online newspaper, and Levi and Gimpy's veterinarian's office. But access to those things comes at a cost. In order to read those posts, I have to slog through an assortment of other stuff that I'd rather not have inside my head. There are days when I feel so bombarded by Facebook that I wish I'd remembered to put on a helmet before I logged on.

They don't call Facebook a "social network" for nothing. I, being introverted by nature, am not at my best in social situations, though I'm better in small groups than in large ones. If I find half a dozen new status posts on Facebook, I'm fine, but if there are a dozen or more, I start squirming. How can I respond honestly and thoughtfully to so many posts? I can click the "like" button, but it seems inappropriate to "like" a post someone has written, for example, about being involved in an accident. That requires at least a short comment. And if I comment on that one, people whose posts I haven't yet acknowledged will know I've read them and thus far ignored them. I can no longer pretend I haven't seen them yet.

In most cases I haven't intended to ignore anyone's post, except for a few kinds I'll describe in a minute. Usually, I'm just reading posts quickly, giving myself time to figure out what I think about them, thinking I'll go back to the beginning and click or comment as the case may be. Unfortunately, if either the content or the quantity of posts seems overwhelming, I retreat into my shell without doing anything. That's how I get further and further behind.

I don't mind reading reposted witticisms or inspirational slogans. I like funny and sentimental animal pictures and videos. I like recipes the first time I see them, but I do screen captures of the ones I want to save instead of reposting them. I enjoy seeing your photos and scrolling through your albums. It makes me happy to see a picture of your baby, or even multiple pictures if they're posted in a batch, but as precious as that child is, if you post his or her pictures in a dozen different posts spread out over the course of a day, the posts that come late in the series feel to me like Chinese water torture.

If you post once or twice a day, it feels good, like smiling and waving at a neighbor across the fence. If you post many, many times a day, it feels like that friendly neighbor has stationed herself on my porch and I can't even open my front door without exchanging still more small talk.

I always like to read your good news. Because I care about you, I want updates on the bad news, too. I'd rather not read the details of your fight with someone I don't even know. Reading your side of the story makes me feel bad for you (yes, "bad"--"badly" is incorrect despite what Donald Trump once said.) But then, unless the action that upset you was particularly egregious, I find myself feeling sorry for the other person being discussed publicly behind his or her back. Regardless of who was right and who was wrong, I feel uncomfortable.

Positive political messages don't bother me at all, even if I'm of a different political persuasion. Negative political messages, on the other hand, disturb me. Especially reposts of partisan articles that are half-truths at best. I totally understand that it's your right to repost an article and that the choice to read it or not was mine. Nevertheless, if I read statements that are untrue or misleading, or if the tone of a post or an article is particularly hateful, snide, or patronizing, I will have to work hard to get over the feeling that you, personally and knowingly, just stood there right in front of me and pissed all over my good day. My problem, not yours.

I've probably written here before that I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook, and that's truer now than ever. Sometimes I have the energy to make my presence online known; other times I withdraw into a quiet corner and observe, the same thing I do at a party where there are too many people. (Give me that quiet corner instead of a chatroom any day).

Facebook is a habit I can't seem to kick, but it's stressful on days when I simply don't feel like talking. Perhaps I need to find an "unsocial network."


  1. "And if I comment on that one, people whose posts I haven't yet acknowledged will know I've read them and thus far ignored them. I can no longer pretend I haven't seen them yet."

    The thing about Facebook is...most people are more concerned with what they are doing and don't really notice what you are doing...

    I know how you feel... and so agree.


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