Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Is Facebook Reverting Adults Back to Eighth Graders?

I am a Facebook addict.  I really am.  I post updates about the weather, random quotes (primarily from famous drunk Irishmen), and pictures that nobody cares about but me.

I mean, does anyone really want to see either Belle's modeling pics or her "Beaver Face"?

She does clean up well, no ;-)?

But seriously, one of my FB friends posted last night: "Age does not define whether you are an adult.  Your actions do.  Some 'adults' are so fuc*ing childish", and I had an epiphany.

Facebook has made it so much easier for adults to act like children ... for teens to bully each other ... for cruelty to perpetuate.

How often do you hear, "Well, so-and-so said this about Joe Blow on FB.  The post isn't there?  Well, it was.  They must have taken it down so there's no proof."

No proof?  What is this, a court of freaking law?  It's a social networking site!

So I commented to my FB friend, "Amen!!!! And FB has really exacerbated this...I am soooooo amused by adults 'punishing' each other by unfriending.  It's like being back in eighth grade."

Her response?  "Or people who can't talk like grown ups, instead choosing to rant about someone on that person's FB and then delete and/or block them.  THEN do this so  many freaking times they have to keep making new FB pages with different versions of their name because they've pissed off too many people and can't keep track of who they've deleted, blocked, or ranted to.  Yup.  Very adult."

All of which got me thinking how lucky I am to have avoided that degree of drama.

My own personal experience with this is tied to one person (well, two, I guess...three if you want to count my fiance, who probably set the wheel in motion), and while part of me would love to rant about his transgressions, both emotionally abusive through Facebook and physically abusive in reality, I try to be better.

Suffice it to say that when someone should be on the post office wall for deadbeats, somehow has the money to travel all over the place virtually every weekend (and document said travels on Facebook, which is one of the rudest and nastiest in-your-faces I can imagine) and buy sweet new cars (with pictures proudly posted when, as a result of said deadbeatery, his child is riding in a car with 250,000 miles on it), and post on FB pictures of a child he chooses not to see for month-long stretches at a time as though he were there and involved instead of yoinking pics from someone else's wall, it is pretty deplorable.

And yet nobody said ANYTHING about those transgressions.  He totally got away with being an irresponsible, self-centered douchebag.  Were these things frustrating?  Beyond belief.  But when you're an adult, you take the high road.  (And lest you think, as you're reading this, "Well, she's kind of doing what she claims to hate", please know that I am leaving out a million things and keeping this very general).

My fiance Henry, who considers the little girl in question the absolute light of his life, snapped over the combination of his princess' distress that "Daddy loves his girlfriend more than he loves me" because he chose to spend Father's Day with his girlfriend over his daughter and the far more disturbing FB post that he and his girlfriend went out for "Father's Day brunch" together (a fact that we made sure to keep from a little girl who would have been either more devastated).

Anyway, Henry made a comment on a Facebook post that was probably not particularly mature but was 100% accurate.  And was promptly unfriended, blocked, and otherwise wiped from the warped existence of an utterly insane world.

Which I can understand.  I mean, who wants to be called out publicly on his bad behavior?  It doesn't matter if it's true (in fact, it might even be worse, because ... well, I do wonder how some people sleep at night), it's probably humiliating to have the world potentially know just how badly you suck, particularly when you try to put up this professional facade which is a total joke to anyone that knows you.

Oops, I'm starting to cross that maturity line there ...  Focus!

What I do not understand, however, is why I was likewise unfriended, blocked, and otherwise wiped from the warped existence of an utterly insane world.  I did not make the comment.  I have always been there for this SOB, no matter what he's done to me, and I've never been snarky about the amount of money he spends on himself and his girlfriend even when I've had to roll quarters (and occasionally dimes and nickels) to have enough gas money to get to work because he is not paying child support.  

Okay, that was a little snarky.  God's honest truth, but still snarky.

The thing is, it's no great loss.  Frankly, the best thing he could do for his child is drop dead; he has lied to her and hurt her enough for a hundred lifetimes.  She is completely done with him, and forcing her to call him on the phone each night is an exercise in torture for both of us.  But, as they say, there is no luck like an alcoholic's luck, and so the nightmare will probably be continuing for the forseeable future.

It's the way it was done--"Henry pissed me off, so I'm going to delete YOU from Facebook"--that really hurt my feelings and, yeah, made me pretty angry.  Of course, it epitomizes this twit's M.O. and approach to life, so I guess there's that ...

One other thing that totally cracked me up is that I guess I'm in good company.

A friend who has managed to avoid his magic delete button told me the funniest story (yes, I'm aware of what I'm doing here ... consider it driving the point home).  He posted a quote from John Nash talking about how mathematicians are prone to "maniacal characteristics, delirium, and symptoms of schizophrenia".  One of his FB friends put "So are drunks!!!!!!"  The comment was removed...and so was the friend.

Some people need to play God and control their warped realities, I guess ...

Which brings this back to Facebook.  Never before have we had that degree of power over who our "friends" are, what we choose to publicize, and how we can show up on other people's pages via comments or pictures.  It's kind of scary ...

And it would be nice if people could act like adults on Facebook.  Of course, it would be nice if people could act like adults in reality, but this is a platform that unfortunately reinforces the opposite.

I love Facebook because I enjoy seeing what my friends are doing.  I like making plans through an outlet that ensures nobody is excluded because it's ...  you know, public.  I love getting to see pictures of my nephews and jokes and interesting articles.  And I adore hearing the latest quotes from my nephew in Baltimore, who is possibly the only person in the world more naturally funny than Belle.  

I try to avoid drama.  I see an awful lot of it, though, in my news feed, and it makes me feel uneasy.

In my world, I try to be nice to everybody.  I try to believe the best in others, and I constantly tell myself that their intentions are just being misconstrued.  I don't expect everyone to feel this way or try to live this way or whatever, but it's a nice aspiration.

And I truly believe that Facebook makes this more difficult.  The immediacy with which you can vent and complain and act without thinking through the ramifications is scary.  The ability for teenagers (and yeah, probably adults) to go on someone else's account and wreak havoc is even more frightening.

So what do you think?  Is Facebook (and, to a slightly lesser extent--unless you're a celebrity--Twitter) lowering the maturity level of mankind?

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