Think back to the day you first heard about Facebook. Did you join right away? Did you impulsively jump on board because it was trendy, an en vogue replacement for the fizzling My Space or the tired email?
Or did you take a moment and ask yourself basic questions about expectations, how this new communication tool could be used, or who would be considered a “friend?”
I didn’t join right away. I purposely avoided social media because, as a high school staff member, I did not want students to find me and mix my semi-quasi-mildly proper professional life with my sordid social one. Therefore, I shunned easily accessed social media until I retired in 2014.
When I did join, it was for one reason: marketing. I planned, in retirement, to focus more on my writing, something I put on the backburner for most of my working years. But as a writing retiree, I could use Facebook to network, reach out, and promote my work. I could reach friends from the various chapters of my life.
When I entered the World of Facebook, however, I was presented with the term “Facebook friend.” This challenged my concept of the word ‘friend.’ Numerous FB veterans, I noticed, had many “friends,” some well into the hundreds. Are these people really ‘friends? I asked myself. I’ll be lucky if I gather 100 “friends” here. People from my past and present. I’ll stop at 100, I told myself. As if 100 is possible, I chuckled as an addendum.
Then I remembered my purpose for joining: marketing and networking. Expand your preconceived notions, I said. Let the whole world into your world of words.
I now have 250 friends. And because they are “friends,” I have close personal relationships with each and every one. Every one. Let me rephrase that. I know many of them. But I also have many I have never met. In some cases, our paths crossed just long enough for them to ask if I were on Facebook, followed by a “friend request.”
Of course, I could have lied and said I was not a FB user or I could have denied the request, but I remembered my original purpose as a writer; I should welcome them to my fold, and use the tool for exposure.
Some of my “friends,” however, have become problematic.
They post pictures of restaurant meals or alluring new recipes, which has led to my embarrassing weight gain and borderline diabetes. They have posted comics and jokes so funny I LOLed myself into unintended urinary releases. In public places. They have posted pictures of pet dogs so adorable I have considered dognapping. Don’t even ask what I consider when pictures of cute grandkids are posted. Yes … and I am embarrassed to admit this … dognapping. They have posted pictures of their world travels which have inspired me to walk around the block once a week. They have posted “Throwback Thursday” photos which simply serve to show how much they have aged. Those pics also have inspired me to wear more makeup and hats with thick veils.
And then there are those FB friends who post multiple times daily. By multiple, I mean six, seven, eight, even 3,479. This would not be a problem were they my only FB friend. But they are not. Like I said, I have over 250 alleged friends…oops. It is now 255…and 83.6% are multiple posters. These countless posts, however, are not personal announcements like, “Just won the lottery; moving to Majorca,” “My new wife was one of my great-grand-daughter Britney’s bride’s maids,” or “I completed my most recent painting. It’s on my website and can be purchased for $575,000. But as a ‘Facebook friend,’ you receive a 10% discount.” Instead, most of their posts are “shared” items, many of which they deem funny. I’ve laughed at a few, four to be exact. These chronic sharers, it seems, do not realize that not all their “friends” find Erma Bombeck funny or videos of children falling off slides entertaining. Humor is personal. Time is precious.
But, for me, the most problematic situation created by FB “friends” are the political posts. I don’t wanna see ‘em. I’m being serious here.
I left the US because of politics and the decision was made in August 2004, long before tRump. August 2004 was after the hanging chad “election” of 2000 and during the ’04 campaign that put same-sex marriage on the ballot in eleven states. The purpose of this was to lure homophobic, irregularly voting right-wingers to the polls, dragging their states’ electoral college votes along. It worked.
That was, for this former political junkie, the proverbial straw. I was done being patient, done explaining and defending the US system, and finally over the hypocrisy and bullshit. I left the US within a year of retirement.
Yes, although I live in Mexico, I still do follow what happens north of the border. I remain politically savvy. I watch CNN, MSNBC, The Bachelor, and Live With Kelly and Ryan. But only as a channel surfer seeking headlines, not as an obsessed news junkie over-analyzing anything and everything political. I came here to find stress-free happiness and, for the most part, I have. I wanted to leave anger, frustration, and negativity behind. However, with a flood of political posts, particularly in tRump’s America, that is not easy.
Because I thoroughly vet every friend request, using private detectives, Ouija Boards, and zodiac charts—oh, my 250 has just reached 261—most of my friends, real and Facebook, share my basic political beliefs. Therefore, I wonder what is accomplished by the onslaught of political posts sent by preaching-to-the-choir FB friends. They waste my time, convince me of nothing, and are irritating. If these friends of mine have friends on the opposite side of the political wall, they should send these political messages to them only. I understand the senders probably think they are performing a service, sharing critical information. But, as I see it, they only are allowing stress, anger, and frustration to dominate their own lives and invade mine.
I have my interests. Would these people appreciate six daily reminders promoting TV’s Home Shopping Network, interviews with the Real Housewives of Peoria, and porn involving obese Serbs in rowboats just because I think everyone should enjoy and support it like I do? I think not.
Therefore, Facebook friends, I request more personal updates and fewer political crap or, even though I still like you, I will be forced to “unfollow” you like I regrettably have done to a number of othe —oh, gotta go. Anton, Balki, and Ludmila crammed into a weather-beaten dingy just popped up on my screen. Well, two of them are crammed in; one is sorta overhanging into the Jusna Morava River. I’m gonna share it with you as soon as I’m done…See? I can be irritating, too.