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.