Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Facebook changed the social dynamic of the world by allowing people to ask for things from you without actually doing anything at all for you.

My brother was taken aback the other day when he trolled me and asked why my art has not made it onto Facebook. I told him that I didn't like Facebook and could care less about sharing it. His eyes opened wide with shock and surprise, but he decided (for once) not to angrily press me into sharing on Facebook. He has done this before with me, insisting that I post pictures and such of my house on Facebook so that everyone could see. When I said no, he pushed until he got his way. That's just our dynamic I guess. My brother says that he shares everything on Facebook to create Facebook memories. Again, I could care less about Facebook memories. I prefer the real ones. And should I ever be so mentally compromised that I can't remember the real ones, I doubt I'll remember how to get onto Facebook anyway. It all seems like unnecessary narcissism to me, if I'm to be honest. I feel like I know too many people on Facebook who are addicted to attention. There's actually a disorder for it called "attention addiction disorder." For those who don't know what this is, it's when a young person gets too much attention for one reason or another and grows addicted to it because it feels good (kind of like a drug). As they get older, they need to have that sustained input of attention and will do anything to get it, including risky sexual behaviors etc.

Side Note: For those that are legitimately interested in seeing my art, I will be posting a picture I've been working on for months here on my blog when I finish it. But it's a really slow process, and I'm about 90% done. There's lots of detail in it. Anyway, that's not what I wanted to talk about in this post.

What I wanted to talk about is that I've been really struggling with putting into words why I don't like Facebook, and why I try to stay off it as much as possible. And then it finally hit me, I think I dislike Facebook so much, because it changes the social dynamic that I was raised up knowing (into something that feels alien and different). Here's how: Facebook allows people to ask for things from you without actually doing anything at all for you. It makes it too easy for people to become takers in your life without giving anything.

It used to be that people had social contracts with each other. If you wanted to get to know someone, you would hang out with them in real time. You would go and visit their home. You would pick up the phone and talk with them for hours on the phone until parents told you to stop monopolizing the line. You knew what was going on with their lives on a daily basis because you invested in another person. Facebook has removed all of that. Now, all you do is check someone's feed of things that they post to your wall and that's your substitute for "catching up." There is nothing unique for you. Rather, it's like everyone is doing a "press release" for their avocado toast that they chose to eat in the morning. "Press release...I'm drinking O.J. from this cute kitty cup!" It's ridiculous and wrong on so many levels.

I suppose I'd be okay with it, but these same people that you somehow friend because you saw them once and they send you a friend invite will still come after you for favors (like a Go Fund Me account or a request to join a political activist rally), even though they haven't stepped one foot in your house and even though they never call. With as little effort as possible, these people still expect you to come to their aid, they expect you to extend levels of respect to them that you would previously only do to people you really wanted in your life, yet they will never do the same. The equivalent of "breaking out the fine China" for a new generation of people is to abide by all of the political correctness that they insist upon if you are to communicate with them beyond a "hello" and treat them with the respect of a visiting dignitary and not an average person. And I'm being serious here. I have barely met people and they have asked favors from me having to do with multiple personal pronouns, not using certain language (or to provide trigger warnings), and to respect them in ways that I was raised to believe that only "honored guests" received. There's been several times when I've paused, and asked, "who are you exactly?" and then gotten into a heated conversation about how that's not appropriate only to put that person resoundly in their place and they never speak to me again. In truth, it's a wonderful feeling, but it's also why I hate Facebook. People today seem to think that they can do so little, and then expect so much from someone in return. I come from a generation of people who believed that you treated everyone at a baseline, but extra-ordinary respect needed to be earned. Now (it seems) that people desire extra-ordinary respect to be the baseline, always, and without exception. I simply don't agree with this. There are plenty of reasons for people to be treated with no respect, either through their abhorrent behaviors or attitudes.

It's a curious development of the technology era, and I've been called a "luddite" by some who eschew my particular view on social media. I've never really considered myself a luddite. I know that I'm quite versed in technology and seem to have a solid grasp of how computers, mobile phones, and apps work. But just because I prefer paying in cash as opposed to paying for things using Facebook (yes there's a way to pay through Facebook) or paypal or Bitcoin shouldn't be a reason for a person to call me a "luddite" even if it is meant affectionately.

I see for me an odd kind of future, where I willfully embrace introversion over the complexity of trying to navigate friendships which are ultimately both meaningless and frustrating. Anyone else noticing these kinds of relationships and interactions cropping up in your life with more and more frequency? Do you blame Facebook? I look forward to reading your comments.


  1. And that's just the tip of the iceberg, isn't it? That kind of socialization leads all sorts of disconnection problems. You could post every day for a month about it.
    Thanks for yet another reminder why I'm not on Facebook.

  2. I wouldn't use Facebook as much if my siblings didn't use it. It's the best way to contact both at the same time. There are too many trolls on there, especially on news feeds and such.

  3. I don't see how any of the things you're talking about are any different than the way people have always been. I certainly ran into those behaviors well before FB. Maybe, FB puts a magnifying glass on it, but it didn't invent any of that.

  4. And the fact is, you're not missing anything by not being on there. I don't share personal information on social media. I do got what you're saying about there not being relationships anymore.

    Long time, Michael, I was scrolling down my blog and looked at the blog roll I didn't remember was there.

  5. I have something like 43 friends on Facebook. And I've muted most of them. That is, I don't see their feeds. Basically, my FB is a couple magazines that post links to new stories, me throwing my shop out there, and stuff from my SIL (who posts *everything* there. It's the only way I keep up with that side of the family as they are now in Ohio. Like the passing away of her mother).

    You might try muting all the people you aren't friends with. Or unfriending them. Or deleting FB entirely. It is kinda useless if you think about it.

  6. If you're a luddite, then I'm a cavewoman. I'm not on FB either and I figured recently that I should get on it just as a promo for my books, but a) I don't think it would help my books much at all, and b) considering how the Russians manipulated FB for their propaganda, I'd feel scummy.

    I'm also old-fashioned (like you) when it comes to respect. It's one thing to be civil, but for high respect a person has to earn it from me.

  7. When my daughter helped me get into Facebook, I thought it was amazing. Many of my cousins and H.S friends from my Illinois hometown again became friends.

    Facebook is exhausting. So many people I know are always on FB. Said good-bye to Illinois people. Now have FB for my family only.

    Good post.

  8. I am the first in my family to do anything with technology. I feel in love the fist time I saw a computer in the early 80s and have collected every electronic gadget I can find ever since. This enshrined my geekiness in my family's minds which is why they found it odd that I refused to join Facebook for a long time.

    I hate the way Facebook shares too much and only gave in when my Mom nagged me. I now have a page that blocks everyone but my brother, sister, Mom, and Dad. A couple of friends teased me when they heard 'I joined the 21st century' but then got upset when I refused their friend requests.

    In my opinion, Facebook is regressive step to email. While I get that it helps create connections it also helps to divide. People are different and messages should be different for each person. That's why I keep my group only to my family. They know me and my sense of humor. Too much gets lost when read on a computer screen.