Look, Facebook…we need to talk. Communication is the key to a healthy relationship, after all. (For us, I’d say it’s doubly important since it’s basically all that we do.)
Here’s the thing. I love most of the things you tell me about each day. You know, the updates on what my friends have been doing. The funny things their kids have done. The pictures of the places they’ve been and the things they’ve made. What they think of the new pope. Even those memes they like, be they goofy or inspirational. In addition, I appreciate the way you tell everybody about it when I post something new on my blog. There’s a lot to love about our relationship.
Unfortunately, there are also some areas we need to work on. I hate to be a nag, but these things really bother me. Many of them are the exact reason I broke up with Email Forwards. (I know, we promised we’d never bring exes into it, but I felt it was necessary to make a point.) These things can be summed up as things I will never, ever share, like, or comment on (except maybe to post a link to a Snopes article). Our relationship would be so great if I never again saw:
1. Pictures That Tell Me to Type Something in the Comment Box in Order to “See Something Happen”
Of all your features, Facebook, my absolute favorite is the one where I can comment on my friend’s photo and suddenly, as if by magic, it changes! Somehow, they’ve programmed it so that…oh, wait. That never happens.
I’ll admit, this prank was funny at first, but it’s really starting to get old. A picture is just a picture. Typing something in the comment box cannot make it change. All it does is make the picture appear on my timeline. (Hmm…)
2. Videos, Pictures and Articles with Excessively Vague Descriptions
You’ve gotten lazy, Facebook. You used to tell me what something was before expecting me to click on it. Now, all I get from you is:
“This is funny!”
“This is amazing!”
“This is so touching! You’ll cry when you see it!”
Forget sharing these; I don’t even bother clicking on them. In case you’re not aware of this, it’s very easy to find funny, amazing and touching things on the Internet. If you want me to click on this particular one, I want to know what sets it apart from the rest. To draw a comparison, this is why TV networks explain what a show is about when they advertise it. Simply saying “This is the best show ever!” will get them exactly zero viewers.
3. Anything That Tries to Guilt, Dare, or Otherwise Manipulate Me into Sharing It
I’m very happy when my friends take a stand against things like child abuse, racism and breast cancer. Frankly, if they thought any of those things were good, we probably wouldn’t be friends. Sometimes, they share their feelings in the form of an inspirational graphic that encourages their friends to take a stand as well. Great! Let’s spread the word.
Sadly—very sadly—these graphics often contain something else that makes it 100% impossible for me to share them. I’m talking about statements like:
66% of my friends aren’t brave enough to share this. Let’s see who will.
I know all of my friends will share this because none of them are heartless trolls!
Or, worst of all:
Share this if you love Jesus! Remember what the Bible says: “Deny me in front of your friends and I will deny you in front of my Father.” So if you’re thinking about not sharing this, remember that God saw you reading it!
Let me see if I’ve got this straight. I’m some kind of horrible human being if I don’t share this graphic, right here, right now? Furthermore, you don’t trust that I might actually share the message because I believe in the message?
Even if I agree with the message (and I usually do), I refuse to share anything that includes these kinds of statements because I have no desire to manipulate my friends. And quite frankly, that third example is just offensive. I’m a Christian, I love Jesus, and despite the fact that the Bible doesn’t specifically address social networking to the best of my knowledge, I’m pretty sure God would rather I don’t repost something that tries to guilt, shame or frighten other people into sharing it.
4. Extraordinary Claims, Conspiracy Theories and Questionable Statistics
Honesty is very important in a relationship. That’s why I’m very disturbed when you start telling me things like:
Obamacare requires all U.S. citizens to be implanted with RFID microchips!
KFC gets their meat from genetically engineered, mutant chickens!
Walmart has a Martian slave labor camp on the moon!
Okay, I made that last one up. Still, some of the things you’ve shared with me are truly disturbing. I’ve seen fake amber alerts, fake inspirational stories, fake remedies, fake crimes, fake threats, and fake political messages from Bill Cosby. These have the potential to hurt or defame real people. And, to make matters worse, if something true does happen to come along, I’ll probably just assume it’s false and simply ignore it. I really want to trust you, but things like this give me no choice but to cheat on you with Snopes.com.
5. That Picture of Me at My Wedding That Looks Like I’m About to Kiss My Best Man
Please. Why won’t you just let that one go?