Thursday, February 27, 2014

Four reasons why I unfollowed you on Facebook (and three reasons why I hid you on LinkedIn)

Say what you will about those pioneer days when the only way most of us had to communicate on the interwebs was through our AOL email accounts. Yes, there were hideous “Today’s Laff” emails from smutty uncles, and the inevitable “Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Forward this to an amazing woman!!!!!!!!” chain letters. 

But at least we didn’t have to see pictures of each other all the time, at least without a bit of effort. Call me a reactionary, but I’ve had a hard winter, and there are some things of which I have tired of late. You know I love you (or, in the case of LinkedIn connections, respect your professional acumen immensely) but I must the draw the line somewhere. And here, forthwith, is where it is drawn.

Four reasons why I unfollowed you on Facebook
The cat pictures? The shots of every meal you consume (with resultant “yum!” and “I’m coming over with a fork” fellow food obsessives)? The snaps of your children's report cards, SAT scores and college acceptance letters? Well, of course all of those = Unfollow.

But, as we used to say in the industrial video biz, "Wait, there's more ... much more." Here are my current "unfollow" guidelines, with a note that they may tighten up even further if we have another ground blizzard in these parts.

The weather
What, may I ask, is up with the incessant thermometer shots from your iPhone? Do you honestly find this to be new, fresh information that you, and only you, are able to report? What are you, the Edward R. Murrow of the freaking winter? Shut up already and put on a sweater.

Closeups of casts. Arty shots of IV tubes, stuck into your actual flesh. Lovely photographic arrangements of the black eye from your car crash. One word: Unfollow. And, while I admit that I may be old fashioned in saying this, I wonder if a Facebook post is the best way to announce that you've been diagnosed with cancer, or if posting your chemotherapy schedule is .... okay, I think I'll just let that one lie there and flop about in its own ellipses.
Politics (even my own)
For most of my friends, I’m going to vote the way you do, I’m just less – well, convinced, I guess is the word – about it. Except for the guy I worked with 20 years ago, who clearly has joined a Michigan Militia group in the meantime, and who sent me the most horribly racist illustration of Obama I have ever seen within five minutes of my accepting his friend request, just calm down. I’m on your side, already, I just don’t like being berated.

Here is a true story. I loved my friend Joel. We had a lot in common, not that it ever seemed that way on the surface. I probably voted for every candidate and issue he did, just with a lot less vocalizing to accompany my decision. In September of 2012, he was driving me NUTSO with the daily assault of politically minded Facebook messages, with enough exclamation points in each one to overseason a punctuation stew, each with the screaming message that Mitt Romney was a tool. I knew Mitt Romney was a tool, but I didn’t want to be reminded of it every time I clicked a mouse.

So – and alert, here is the bad part -- I unfollowed Joel, intending to start following him again in mid-November, after he’d had a chance to calm down. And then, here is the awful part: he died in October. No, I do not think Mitt Romney killed him, unless Mitt Romney was at the Springhill Suites in Boise, Idaho at the time, and was able to make it look like a massive coronary. (And that, right there? Is the first joke I’ve ever made about losing Joel, so I feel a little proud of myself right now, and I think he would be too.)

Of the one million reasons I am sad about his death, the one millionth and one-th (that’s a number, isn’t it?) is that I unfollowed him on Facebook a month before I lost him. It felt like a modern betrayal, even though he never knew about it (like all the worst kind of betrayals, I suppose, Guinevere excluded). 

But even if he got a magical pass from the afterlife and called me on the phone tonight, after I told him I loved him and asked him pointedly about the weather where he was and reminded him that he’d promised to save a seat for me … and after I told him about the lead in that Atlantic Monthly article I SO MUCH wanted to forward to his afterlife address, about the drunken frat boy who shoved a bottle rocket up his butt because he thought it would make him fly … and after I got to hear him laugh so hard he snorted … even then, if Joel somehow got control of his Facebook page again, and started sending me six messages a day about Chris Christie, whom no one, not even Mrs. Christie, should have to look at that much, and when you tell me there is no Mrs. Christie, I say, my point exactly … even then, I would still unfollow Joel, because that is just too much of that stuff for any normal woman who has other things to think about.

Your happy-money-happy-leisure-happy life
I know this particular type of unfollow makes me a terrible person, so let me offer a little bit of backstory. I haven’t been out of the state of Minnesota since December 2012, not even to Wisconsin, God help me. Restaurant meal? Not so much. Spa day? Don’t make me laugh. So a shot of the $200 bouquet your husband sent you for Valentine's Day?  Your toe selfie in the sand on your fab vaca, with your perfect pedi from the hotel spa? The shot of you in a bathing suit with a caption: “I hear it’s chilly in Minnesota, ha ha”? Look, I’m sure you’re a great person, but I hate you a little right now, and as I look down at my emerald-green fingers (that's frostbite, right?), they seem to be selecting  Unfollow. Ooops.

Three reasons why I hid you on LinkedIn
If Facebook is the high school cafeteria of social, then LinkedIn is the student council meeting, all buttoned-up and asking about extra credit. (In case you were wondering? Tumbler? stoner/smokers across the street from campus. Pinterest? home ec room. And now I’ve run out of analogies, so keep reading.) The reasons for my “hiding” people (LI version of “unfollow”) are different, but just as annoying:

Liking new profile pictures
First, this tells me that you have connections who are so clueless as to not have unselected “show every move I make on this site” from the LI settings page. Second, it tells me that you somehow think you are still on FB, “liking” pictures and all. Check that browser bar and act accordingly, I beg. Or I hide, up to you.

The "eye test"
There is one thing more pathetic than posting this old chestnut (see image at start of blog), and that's posting it with a full student council report on what your first choice was. Here I am, cranking away on a deadline, but unable to stop checking LI every few seconds to see what you chose – “Did Lulabelle pick Joy or Wealth? Joy or Wealth? Sweet God above, just let me find out!” And then – oh blessed relief! I discover you’ve finally posted and announced to the world that you picked “Joy.” Whew. I can get back to work, my children will eat tonight, and all is well. Thank you, thank you so much, for posting that vital information:  Hide.

Old guy got fired
See above for the part about clueless people who don’t realize the tracks they’re leaving on LI. When a friend’s over-50 husband suddenly has 12 posts in a row on a Sunday night, all about new companies he’s following, and when he throws in that Roman Galleon analogy about leadership, yeah, he’s been fired. And nice way to keep yourself looking up-to-date with the ancient Romans, pal.

Ditto the braincases who can't tell the difference between the LI search bar and the status bar. When you see a person's post that's just a lowercase name "mary headupherbutt," that means that a search for a name has been entered as a status, and, somehow, pathetically, posted. Hide.

Finally, a conclusion
It might be possible that I feel this way because social is just too wide-open for some of us, obviously me. Maybe we need to form some tighter groups, some like-minded bands.

Which is my way of saying that I’ll bet there are lots of people who WANT to see your appendectomy scar pictures, fascinating as they are, so you just keep posting away. And me? I’d go take a toe selfie right now, but I’m afraid I’d get frostbite.

See you on the interwebs.