I See What You Did There

Mar 31.jpg

There are a little over three weeks left of Lent. It’s been a ride, a theological carnival where the good stuff is behind the curtain. The not-so-obvious stuff.

My Facebook freeze, even though I’ve done variations of it in the past, has been fascinating. Every once in a while I think of a joke, a funny based on something in the news or wandering the web. It’s involuntary; this is my prime motivator for acting on social media, making jokes.

And while none of this is absolute—I’ve liked a couple of posts that were important life moments for friends, and I’ve done some housekeeping posts—I stick with it for the most part. My remarkably humorous thoughts will go unchuckled.

It makes no difference, I could see quickly. These are spontaneously anyway, and spontaneously go away. Not that a joke is going to hurt anyone. It’s just collateral damage in my desire to stay out of the fray.

But since I still check in a couple of times a day, just in case something interesting happened or there’s a cute picture of a baby, all this does is focus my attention on how most of us use this platform. Not all, certainly; I know plenty of people who once in a blue moon show up, read a few posts and move on, or apparently. But most of us.

I have two observations. One is that we’re not communicating as much as sharing, out of some desire to share. Sometimes to impress, too; just read a post from someone on vacation, and watch how many people comment about their own personal experience with this particular destination. Along with the “Looks like you’re having a great time!” posts there are plenty of, “We spent two weeks there last summer! Make sure you see the _______.” You know. Turn the conversation in the right direction.

And then there’s the cumulative nature of these posts. A picture of a young woman I know (there are many), posing for a big night with the latest cocktail dress and bending every bendable part of their body, is fine and welcome, a nice glimpse into a life I care about.

But after I’ve seen dozens of these pictures, all young woman in the same clothes with the same posture and expressions, and it becomes creepy and annoying. It feels like sheep being led to the cultural slaughter. Decisions aren’t made by you but for you, and in an individual case we don’t notice. One long timeline of prom photos (or dog photos, or the same selfies with the exact same post) tends to make me detach from real people and see puppets. It’s a little disturbing.

I can’t recommend it. I don’t know how you all use social media. I check in a lot, and now I don’t, and it feels like a good thing. My opinions and thoughts aren’t going anywhere. Just maybe not on Facebook.

Chuck SigarsComment