What is Facebook? It’s the place where people can bully you and say nasty things, even if they don’t know you. Or they can share their good times and accomplishments with you or commiserate if things don’t go well. You can find out who your real friends are. Or you can find out about parties so-called friends threw and didn’t invite you. You can see another side of people you thought you knew, for good or bad. You can sometimes learn something that will make you laugh…or cry. You can test the waters. You can realize the destructive power of lies and rumors and how easily they spread. It’s the place where you find out how stupid and petty people can be, but there is often a flash of intelligence, caring, and understanding that salvages the whole experience. So what is Facebook? It’s the biggest junior high school in the world. — Tracey Simon (February 2014)
My cousin Tracey, a comic who moonlights as a mild-mannered librarian on Long Island, periodically… amidst her more acerbic observations of life on this planet….not to mention life in this family….comes up with a classic gem. This snippet definitely qualifies. Of course, she posted it as her status on Facebook.
Seems to me we haven’t progressed much past junior high over all, that time when life was black or white/right or wrong/perfect or disaster. There was no middle in junior high which really cracks me up since most junior highs have been replaced by middle school…..which seems to be a total misnomer when you think about it. Few people remember junior high with undiluted pleasure; most people would rather forget it altogether. Strange things happened to our bodies; girls were dealing with stuff they couldn’t talk about and boys were talking too much about stuff they had no clue about. People did mean things to other people just because they could, and social stratification blossomed (if one could call the development of elitist society a blossom.) In the final analysis, we were all pretty goofy. And pretty mean mean.
Just think of this as Adventures In Lunchroom Etiquette.
Tracey’s right about this. Social media gives mean a bigger stage and a wider audience. Post something on Facebook and you’re up and running. You don’t have to tell the truth, you just have to post it and someone will believe it. How many completely absurd ONION orDAILY CURRENT stories have been shared as “evidence?” Amongst my friends, I’m know as the “vetter.” I vet every damn one of those I see, and I post the debunking links beneath the most egregious examples. I am sick to death of doing other people’s homework. What? They never heard of Snopes?
These days, it’s not just little toasty-posty fake news things we’re talking about any more. The big boys are involved, and the dirty tricks division of the GOP has started putting up bogus candidate web sites. These web sites look just like the real thing and encourage you to donate cash to the cause…only it’s not necessarily the cause you think you’re supporting. Now, I’m not so sure the the Dems wouldn’t have done this if they thought of it first, but they didn’t and the GOP seems to have glommed onto this new, low rent methodology. It’s not nice.
And that’s what reminds me of junior high. The mean streak is out in force and the concept of good sportsmanship has been submerged. Translated into 21st century politics, the GOP preys on the fears of those least able to defend themselves and sets them up to be the butt end of their policies.
I’m not so naive as to think politics and fair play can exist in the same sentence, but this is so far below fair that it comes out as just plain evil. Very public, very intentional, very deceptive, and no amount of “read the fine print” is gonna make this ever seem like anything but evil. This will spill further into social media in new and more abusive formats, finding more ways to bully the weak into believing a higher minimum wage is bad for them, spread lies to make people believe that illegal immigrants prevent Americans from working, sell snake oil to those who can’t afford to pay attention much less for their meds with a single share click because gee, who ever really read the whole post anyway?
That still doesn’t make it okay.
The reason I liked Facebook so much is because it lets me communicate with my cousins scattered across the country with more regularity than I’ve ever had. It lets me, who hates talking on the phone, know what’s going on in my world without having to spend the whole night with that thing attached to my head. This is okay for me. My kids may tell me it’s on the way out, but for the moment, FB is better than sitting in the cafeteria with my friends. This way I can multi-task and still know what Tracey is thinking in Oceanside and what Barry is pretending to think in Michigan. Which is how I got my opening quote.
The pictures, of course, are a bonus.
Valentine’s Day is Friday