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A concerned clickette complains:

I just HATE IT when people put things on facebook get people to respond to them.  Yesterday, someone posted about how they couldn’t reach their child who is in an area suffering a national disaster.  While I hope for the best – what if this kid got killed?  Is that how you really want to tell people??  On facebook???


You need to calm down with the question marks, buddy.  I do like how they increase in number as your frustration grows – there ought to be a stylistic rule for that, now that I think about it – but don’t shout at me!  I’m here to help!!  OK???

Do you see how annoying that is????

Alright – no – I don’t think that people should post anything from enigmatic, attention-seeking drivel to absolute freak-outs about the well-being of their loved ones to their facebook feed, and I’ll tell you why:  It’s rude, rude, rude.

Attention whoring at any level is rude.  Whether it’s yet another anorexic party-girl your thoughtless friend brought as a date texting and sighing at the end of a table during a dinner party, incessant shirtless or racy photographs by your oversexed gym-rat friends, or a maniac shouting at the end of the street holding a cardboard sign and shaking pencils in a cup – it is all completely out of line.  That’s because these people are acting as human billboards, saying, effectively, a) You’re all not as important as me, b) I have no self-esteem so I need to look for assurances elsewhere and c) I’m batshit crazy, so you might want to cross the street.

Here’s a difference.  Whether it’s in Tehran or Tennessee (vanishingly similar nowadays, but there you go), if there is a massive upheaval or national disaster, social networking sites like facebook, twitter and instagram have shown their usefulness in coordinating information, alerting survivors and generally being helpful.  This isn’t attention whoring.  This is actually being worthwhile, for once.

But if there’s a shooter on your friend’s campus, posting about how you hope their OK is a shitty thing to do.  There’s an earthquake in a village in which your kid is doing charity work?  Terrible time, surely, but much more terrible if you have to center stage and start looking for reassurance when you know anything yet.  Turn to your friends, sure, turn to your family – but the whole fucking internet?  This is self-absorption nonpareil, and less to do with your concern for your kids than the black hole of sucking need you display on a regular basis.

OF COURSE you hope they’re ok.  OF COURSE you don’t want your child flattened in some mud-hut collapse in a god-forsaken shit hole island.  That goes without saying.  What should also go without saying is that if something were to happen, then you have trivialized their death in a medium better suited for jokes and pictures of cats with captions.  And if they didn’t die, then you betray your own cold-blooded callousness when it’s “Oh, thank god he’s coming home!  Pray for the survivors!” in one post and a link to TMZs latest Kim Kardashian Kunt shot an hour later.

Life goes on, I suppose.

But please let it go on with a little more dignity than we currently seem to have.  Start with yourself, and encourage others.  I realize we have an industry built on attention whoring (see Kim Kardashian, above), but that doesn’t make it any less rude.  Sweet Jesus, you shouldn’t take your cues for behavior from anything you see on television, least of all that which is fancifully and inaccurately labeled as “reality”.

So back to your friend – it’s too late for her.  If she’s old enough to have a child that’s a world traveler, then you’re fucked as far as her behavior ever changing.  Just hide her posts if she does this with any frequency.

Actually, that brings up a good point – if she’s unaware of how far reaching her comment goes, you could point that out.  The stories one hears of relatives saying horrifying things on facebook speak for that.  But your question makes me think there’s a few people you have in mind already, so –

Yeah, it’s too late.  Cultivate the social media you want to use, hide everyone else, and don’t worry about other people’s stupid, rude and thoughtless posts.  And don’t you dare point them out as stupid, etc., because that’s just rude, though thoughtful, and it just isn’t done.

Now go find a picture of a cat and post it online.  Better yet, get out of the house – go get some fresh air.

Physician, heal thyself.




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