I’m just going to admit right up front here that this month’s column is going to be a bit of a rant. A well-deserved one to be sure. But I’ll do my best to keep myself more or less in control and try to actually have a good point to all this.
What am I peeved about? If you are on Facebook, and I know that most of you are, then you’ve seen it and are probably almost as tired of it as I am. It’s what you could call Social Media Manipulation, or maybe the dreaded Facebook Pout. Either way it’s ridiculous and needs to stop.
I’ll be you’ve seen this. Someone posts something like this:
“I want to see how many of you who are on my friends list are really my friends. So if you really are then here’s what you have to do to prove it to my satisfaction (at least until I’m feeling insecure again when I’ll put another one of these silly things online). I want you to put in the reply how we first met without using more than five words, and not less than two. Then – if you are really my friend – you’ll copy this and paste into your status update (NO sharing it) and leave it there for at least 10 minutes but not more than an hour! I know most of you won’t do this but those who are my true friends will.”
Ok, I plead guilty to slightly exaggerating things to make my point. But you get the idea.
The very first way you can tell doing something like this is a really, really, really, horrible idea is the Real Life Test. If you wouldn’t say this in real life to people’s faces, then don’t say it online. These kind of whinny, pouty, poor-pitiful-me posts fail this test for most of us. And if your answer is, “Sure, I say these kind of things all the time in real life,” then it’s no wonder you don’t have many friends!
The second reason you ought not to do this is simple – it’s controlling. You don’t try and control your friends, at least you don’t if you have any real idea of what friendship is supposed to be. Who died and put you in control of what other people post on their page? Who gave you Lordship over whether or not I choose to share something or not? And where on earth did you get the idea you get to tell me how many words to use in replying to you? Are you nuts or something?
I say stop this pouty self-pity party now! Friends don’t demand that friends do things exactly the way they want them too in the first place. And if my lack of response to this transparent attempt at control makes you think I’m not your friend, then you’ve got issues. You might want to get off Facebook and put in some face time with a good counselor.
You know what the best and really only way to stop this nonsense is, don’t you? I must refuse to post anything like this myself and I have to choose now not to respond to any more of them. Even if it’s going to upset someone, do not do it!
Friends don’t let friends pout on Facebook, at least not without warning them first. Reminding people of your love and concern is a good thing. It’s something all of us should probably do more of. But submitting to pouty tantrums, whether in real life or online, is a very bad thing. It only creates more of these kind of feeble attempts at attention-grabbing and control.
So let’s stop this in its tracks by stopping our responses to it. If most of us would do so, I’d bet posts like this would disappear very quickly.
Rant over! You may now return to your regular Facebook browsing, hopefully a bit wiser and better equipped when the next Facebook Pout strikes!
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Louie Marsh is pastor of Christ’s Church on the River on the Parker Strip. Visit his website HERE.