Dec 6 Update: I wanted to add this small survey and article that claims Facebook feeds narcissism which you can view by clicking here.
I have noted several times in prior posts that I loathe Facebook.
To me it’s nothing more than a medium for the self-promotion of narcissists. I mean honestly, nobody’s life is that interesting, except mine, and you’ve got to be crazy to think people are just waiting for your next comment or photo. The reason Facebook works so well is that it is an electronic version of common human behavior that we observe every day.
For example, when someone asks you how your weekend was in the elevator at work, it’s usually not because they really care, it’s because they want to tell you what they did that weekend and need a socially acceptable way to foist that upon you. People on Facebook simply endure everyone else on Facebook because all Facebook users agree to suffer the whimsical conceit on everyone else’s walls, in exchange for having all of them “Like” and post comments on their own wall. In other words, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy…if people did not “Like” your comments or photos, you would probably not “Like” theirs back and any motivation to post anything at all by anyone would dry up like the Gobi. It’s the circular ego-stroking that makes Facebook work at all.
Are there certain uses for Facebook? Sure. If it’s just family members or close friends, to share pictures because it’s easier than emailing them – but there are other ways to do that. And before you ask, no, I am not on Facebook. I am not there for this reason and because I don’t think anyone should have that much information about themselves recorded and available to any agency, public or private, for your entire life and beyond. Nobody needs their great-great-great-great granddaughter adding an old Facebook photo to the family history website that Ancestry.com found for them in an archive of your pole dancing around a ring of shot glasses with whale tail.
My wife shared an extension of this behavior with me last night. A co-worker asked her how our daughter was doing. My wife replied that she was doing well but still not sleeping much which has been a little rough on us when it comes to getting our own sleep. Her co-worker then thought it appropriate to tell her how much her son slept at the same age, how easy it was to get him to sleep, a son who is now well into High School. What? How self-centered was that!?
I see it all the time when people talk about mundane stuff. Someone asks someone else what they did over the weekend, which they then answer, and the spiraling and self-reinforcing game of one-upping is off to the races with each sentence from each participant casually besting the others previous sentence. It’s nauseating to listen to.
The real challenge of course is to shut your trap. Just say nothing. People want to be heard. It is polite to simply listen and only respond to questions when asked. To provide sympathy if it’s desired. To relate something personal only if they want you to. I encourage everyone to challenge themselves to just listen, in fact…here is what I do…when people talk about places they went or activities they did, for example sky diving or going to Napa, rather than relate MY trip to Napa or MY time skydiving, I talk to them about it like I’ve never been, or have never done that before. For most people, this will be a difficult challenge because the knee-jerk reaction is to compare our story to theirs. If they ask if I have ever been, I of course tell the truth but I leave it at that unless they actually ask me a question about it.
In conversations where people are talking to me about their cars, or their trips, or the best restaurant or stroller or video game, I simply listen. I ask questions. I don’t try to respond espousing the superior virtues of my car, my trips, my favorite restaurants, stroller or video game. Humanity suffers from a pandemic of one-up-manship and it needs to stop. Unfortunately, Facebook just promotes more of it.
I thought the following video my wife sent me expressed my thoughts rather well…it has been pulled in some places for copyright so I don’t know how long it will be available. If it is not available below, search for “Look at this Instagram:Nickelback Parody.” Hilarious.
Dec 6 Update: Yup. Got nicked for copyright. You can watch the video by clicking here or on the image below.
Categories: For Fun, Random Thoughts, Social Decline
This is one of the main reasons why I seldom add anything to facebook, especially personal. Its bad enough that people I haven’t seen in 20 years actually think that I care about their life. Hell, they didn’t seem to care about me 20 years ago unless they wanted to truly tell me all about themselves.
ps, what a great video. If a person doesn’t get it, then continue to revolve your life around a digital leash that will never leave your hand!
I loathe Facebook 🙂 I do have an account for my ebook promotion nonsense, but I’m only connected with fellow aspiring authors and because it’s linked to my author/secondary Twitter account, I don’t really need to log in.
For personal use, I’ve had a Facebook account twice, and each time deleted it after a month or less. I don’t see the point of connecting with “friends” from my past, especially from middle and high school, that I barely associated with back when we were around each other and have no use for now. I don’t see the point of Liking posts/photos or caring about how many Likes I can get on my duckface bathroom mirror photo or my comment about my awesome vacation.
Facebook aside, my tubby coworker is one of those awful people who always has to insert her own story into a conversation, even when she’s not an active participant in it. I’ve been at my desk, talking to another coworker about my son or another personal thing, only to be interrupted by her stomping over and blabbing about her own story. When my niece was born, I was showing a photo to a coworker who asked about it. Tubby waddles over to tell us both about her “grandpups” and how they learned a new trick over the weekend. My son was sick recently, which prompted her to tell a story about when her kids (who are now in their late 20s and early 30s) were sick as toddlers. Ugh.
I think everyone is guilty of throwing their own story into a conversation when it’s not appropriate, and I don’t mind it when someone is doing it as a brief way of letting me know they understand my situation. When they do something like they did with your wife, however, it makes me want to throw them through a wall 🙂
I love the Tubby stories. 😉
Completely agree with you on relating a story or data point to someone in a demonstration of understanding.
“…it makes me want to throw them through a wall.” LOL. I love your quiet subtlety.
I also wanted to mention, and I really hate that I cannot remember who said this, but an historical scholar said that one of the early signs of a society on decline is when its citizens begin spending time self-promoting, gazing at their own reflection, pontificating about their own greatness, staring at their navel – so to speak. Well, we are well inside that problem. The only thing that has changed between now and other failed societies in the past is that modern technology has allowed us to do it more on a computer instead of in person.
Hahaha the video is hilarious! Thank you. And I love your article too!