Last year, I wrote a piece about my displeasure with cellphones. Unable to stop myself, I submit to you my displeasure with social media. Just think of this as “Eddie’s Rage Against the Machine: Part Deux.”
Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are all worthy of satire. But with print space at a premium, I’ve decided to set my sights on the Darth Vader of social media: Facebook.
However, before I get my shorts all in a knot, I need to come clean. I’m one of the 35.7 bazillion people on Facebook. And I also have a presence on LinkedIn. I honestly don’t remember how I got on either of those in the first place. You’ve heard of people who drunk dial their ex-lovers at 3 a.m.? (Perhaps you’re one of them.) Well, I’m guessing this was a case of drunk keyboarding. What can I say? I was young and stupid.
OK, enough apologizing. Release the hounds!
As with cellphones, social media is nothing more than another way for humans to communicate. Fair enough. After all, mankind has felt the need to communicate ever since the first caveman raised his eyebrows to the first cavewoman beside a warm fire, following a romantic dinner of seared woolly mammoth. And, well, you can guess the rest.
So, how did we get from there to a never-ending parade of photos starring cuddly kittens poking their heads out of even cuddlier quilts? I know I speak for so many when I say, “Enough cuddly, already!”
An even greater concern is that one of those pictures goes “viral.” I can only assume that means you have to wash your hands thoroughly after viewing it. And, yes, you can catch it from a computer screen.
Then there’s this whole “like” thing. Why take the time to reply in actual words, when you can just click the “like” button and move on to the next moment of immediate gratification? Short attention spans ’r us.
At the very least, shouldn’t there be other quick response options that more accurately reflect our true feelings, such as “adore,” “cherish” and “love”? Or, to give equal time, how about “dislike,” “loathe” or “makes me want to vomit”? Options, please!
OK, let’s move on to the whole “friend” thing. Talk about a minefield.
Too often, I’ll open my email first thing in the morning and see, “Joe Schmo wants to be friends.” First of all, who the hell is Joe Schmo? And second, if it does ring a bell, I have to travel back in my memory banks and decipher whether I liked this guy in the first place. Accept or decline. Accept or decline. It’s just too stressful. I haven’t even had my coffee yet.
And what if you make a mistake and accept the friend from hell? You know, the one who keeps sending you those cuddly kitten pictures. Do you dare “unfriend” that person? I mean, what kind of heartless creep does that to another human being? That is, until your new friend crosses the line and posts photos of puppies dressed up as tacos.
Then there’s the agonizing trauma of posting a picture of yourself. Do you go with a current photo that shows who you really are when you first wake up in the morning? Or do you go with the doctored one from 15 years ago to show everyone how young and hot you still are? I know which one I’m trotting out.
Finally, there’s the whole “relationship status” thing. Oy! Once upon a time, you were either married or single. Remember? Not anymore. Facebook actually has 11 — count ’em, 11 — options. You could choose from “in a relationship” or “in an open relationship.” And if you’re not sure, they’ve even got a category called, “It’s complicated.” I’ll say.
All of which brings us back to our caveman. I can’t help but wonder that if he were alive today, what would his Facebook status be?
My money’s on, “It’s not complicated.”
Eddie Adelman is a writer who lives in Belfast.