Sunday, February 14, 2016

Yes, OK, I'm weird about Facebook sorrynotsorry

A friend of a friend recently asked for my cell phone number so she could text me some information.

"I'd get it to you through Facebook, but I know how you are about Facebook," she said.

I cannot tell you what a relief it was to hear her say that. Cannot. Tell. You. Because while there are 20 million ways Facebook has made real life even more socially awkward and stressful, here's one of the worst:

"Hey," says the vague acquaintance you barely know and just met and aren't even sure you like AT ALL. "Are you on Facebook?"

This is an intrusive question, in my opinion, but it is apparently socially acceptable. So here are my options:

1. The implausible lie. "No, I've never heard of it. What is this Facebook thing of which you speak?"

2. The sort-of lie. "Not really. I don't use it much. It's not a great way to reach me."

3. The truth. "I find that most people use Facebook in ways that make me throw up in my mouth and weep for the fate of our species, so I'm only Facebook friends with people I'm related to by blood or marriage, or people I would trust to raise my children if everyone else in my family died."

That third one is pretty heavy, so I usually go for the second option -- the sort-of lie. The vague rebuff. The unspoken 'don't-send-me-a-friend-request-because-it-will-die-a-quiet death' option.

But, occasionally, if I'm feeling reeeeaaaalllll bitchy, I whip out the third option and watch their faces. It can be fun, depending on just how bitchy I'm feeling. Ask an intrusive question, get a painful answer. Sometimes it just seems fair to me.

At a recent professional conference, a colleague asked me about this little blog. "Do very many people read it?"

I had to think about that for a minute. My instinct was to say, "No, and I could not give one single shit how many people read it," but I was wearing heels and make-up and trying to be a grown-up making polite, work-related conversation. Sometimes life is annoying like that.

"No, not many people read it," I finally said. "But having a lot of people read it isn't the goal. It's personal. I write it for me, for my family and friends, and if other people find it and like it, too, that's a bonus. But I don't even look at those numbers most of the time. Could not tell you the readership stats."

He looked confused. I get it. We work in communications, he works in marketing, and the whole point of LIFE is to get a lot of people to read/do/buy stuff. I guess there are ways I could use social media to try to get more people to read this. But it just doesn't matter to me. I'm not a product or a brand. When I'm off the clock, I got nothing to sell.

Because it's a direct reflection of my choices, Facebook is also personal for me, despite its insanely wide reach. I don't have lots of Facebook friends. I like to keep it sub-70. Sometimes the people who make the cut change, because life changes. I trim periodically. I even add very occasionally. And I keep some sentimental favorites around because we have interesting shared histories, they have interesting lives, and I like to know how they're doing.

Of course, I know that when my friends like my things on Facebook, those things go everywhere, and when they share those things, those things go everywhere. It's cool. This is an input issue for me. I am selective about what makes it into my field of vision because I am selective about what I put into my brain. That's all I can control, and so I control it.

Meanwhile, here are just a few things I do not see in my Facebook feed:

Hateful, ignorant fear-mongering by superstitious busybodies. For example, when the Supreme Court ruled (yay!) on marriage equality in July, my feed was a rainbowfest of Love Wins smoochyfaces. A few of my friends took to Facebook to lament all the hate they were seeing on their feeds, but I think that means they need to tend their Facebook gardens a bit more carefully. Time for some pruning. With a fucking chainsaw, y'all.

People posting pictures of the latest fancy, expensive thing they just bought. If there is anything I care about less than money, I do not know what that thing is. Yes, we need money so we can eat and have a dry place to sleep, but conspicuous consumption is boring, and displays of materialism are tedious. I tend to have Facebook friends who share that perspective.

The memememememememememememmeeeeeeee thing where every person has to document every meal and every thought and where they are and who they are with at every moment doing every pedestrian and predictable thing that ALL PEOPLE DO. These are not my folk. But I have a message for them: You guys. Live your lives. Put the phone down. Be in the moment. Be with the people you are actually WITH. Stop taking the same selfie over and over and over and OVER. We saw it the first 4,386 times.

That's all pretty harsh, so I'll dial it back and end with this. I know there are lots of fun ways to use Facebook, from networking to not working to building up your business and making sure everyone sees your craymazing nail art. I wish genuine godspeed and good vibes to all the people who have the hundreds and the thousands of friends and the millions of posts scrolling before their eyes all day long. My husband is among you! He is a total all-day-long Facebook junkie, and I want everyone to have a super terrific time together.

But, you know, if you want to reach me, I'd be happy to give you my email address.

Facebook? Well, yeah, I don't use it much. It's not a great way to reach me.

A really nice picture of Ben in one of our favorite places that I never posted to Facebook.
And yet, it still happened.


  1. How do you feel about Twitter?

  2. Dear Mary,

    Were we separated at birth? I feel so much better about myself and my horrible lack of interest in Facebook now that I have read your post. You speak for millions of us.

    I can't remember the last time I posted anything on the world's biggest magnet for insecure narcissists. So keep it up, my friend.

    1. Thanks, Mark -- it's wonderful to know I'll never have to ignore a Facebook friend request from you.