Fear and Loathing on Facebook


Perspective. It’s a hell of a thing, and in this case it relates heavily to my previous It’s been a while since I posted a status update on Facebook blog post. A major reason why I had temporarily deactivated my account was because of regular misunderstanding of or indifference to my Facebook activities. Whether photos, blog post links or simple status updates, it seemed most people either did not understand what they were about or did not care and in that case would simply ignore them.

Now there’s two recent events on Facebook which have me hastening to tie up unfinished business and, once again and perhaps permanently, deactivate my account. The first is as follows, and begins with Facebook correspondence from an old university friend I had not dealt with in a while and had recently spoken to online briefly again about her script writing activities:

Her: “Hey! Good news, I’ll have work to show you much sooner than expected – provided the job I’m doing next Friday has a half decent editing team behind it
Two key characters in a mockumentary, ‘apparent title of “mockumentary” removed to prevent compromise of privacy’ ;P”

My response: “Cool. Link me to it when it’s done. Good luck.”

Her response: “Gee thanks for the enthusiasm. Hold luck with the shit-kicking then, Mr. Positive Energy.
Good*”

My surprised response: “Ha ha take it easy. You didn’t give me much to respond to. Ok here’s a (smiley face) Better?”

Her: “Dude *shakes head*”

I didn’t respond further because I had experienced conflict with this person before and was unsure how to proceed, because I was certain based on precedence that any action would lead to further conflict. This articulates my original point because, based on previous and unmentioned Facebook chats I’d had with her, I genuinely did think what she was up to was cool, wanted to see it and wished her luck. Of course whether deliberately or not she did not believe me.

The second event involves a specific status update, but only one other person relevant to my argument (two people commented on the update), whose first comment I will outline after the following status quote from myself:

“Baz’s Gatsby was good.

I say that almost solely because even though I’ve read the book and seen its preceding film adaptation, I was still shocked (but not surprised) by the ending.

And I’m pretty sure that’s not because I was distracted by a building thirst for a drink at the Cooly Hotel, on account of the small (large) box of popcorn I’d eaten.”

Her: “Thanks for mentioning the shocking ending, Spoily, McSpoil-a-lot!”

Me: “Surely you’re not serious, Miss (name removed)? Most endings to most movies are shocking. And I wasn’t specific anyway.”

Her: “Kind of serious. I know you didn’t mention specifics, but it’s kind of an unwritten rule not to go on fb and tell the world about the end of a movie… have you seen the episode of the I.T. Crowd where Roy has the same problem? He ends up watching the movie at a german (sic) guy’s house who wants to eat him. That’s how much he doesn’t want to hear about the ending. Anyway. First world problem.”

Me: “I’m kind of remorseful then (smiley face)”

Her: “And so it is.”

Me: “Kind of not really (winky smiley face)”

Her: “Whatever.”

Me: “Bad vibes.”

Her: “Yes, you have been emitting them lately.”

Me: “I disagree (smiley face)”

Two weeks after reactivating my Facebook account, and I had already experienced two instances of overreaction and misunderstanding that were among the reasons I’d deactivated the fucking account in the first place.

These two examples happen to involve women. But during my time on the “social network” instances of indifference, misunderstanding and downright abuse have quite equally come from males. This is where perspective comes in again. I consider myself to be a good, or at least effective, writer. With that in mind some Facebook misunderstandings I’ve had are, ironically, understandable because the people with which I’ve had them have been very poor written communicators. But with those, such as the above examples, who are competent writers it’s difficult to come to any other conclusion than that they are either deliberately misunderstanding or militant.

So, perspective. While I try to be understanding of others’ positions when it comes to that which I put out on Facebook being ignored, criticised or downright opposed, I can’t help but at the end of the day feel one or two things, really: ignored or maligned. That sort of thing can be difficult to cope with in a school, work or club atmosphere. But, in the case of Facebook, the solution is literally as simple as the click of a button. When it comes to battles you cannot either win or understand, the only solution is conscientious objection. Especially if that is the very tactic used against you.

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4 thoughts on “Fear and Loathing on Facebook

  1. Oh man I saw that comment about the Gatsby and your mates ‘no-spoiler’ rule on FB and I found her point interesting. It is an unwritten rule.
    Anywho, I do think the first instance was weird.
    Let me pose this: Facebook gives you a larger network than usual daily life in which to posit ideas/opinions/images etc. This network contains people you would normally/naturally have fallen out of contact with had it not been for the social network (ie i bet you don’t have the phone number of every person in your current FB friend list). So with this in mind, perhaps these strange interactions you are having is because your content is being spruiked to a larger number of people and thus there’s a higher number of f-wits in the bunch than if you were floating this material amongst a select few chosen by you?

    • Exactly. And as a not terribly extroverted person a seeming abundance of bad experiences tend to reinforce my introversion. That said, I’m not emotional about it. While I don’t think I lack empathy, and can look beyond people’s abusive behaviour and sometimes realise it’s not me and it’s something else going on in their life, I will eventually either dismiss their behaviour or use it coldly to my own ends.

  2. I watched Gatsby yesterday with a friend. How this relates further… I have no idea.
    There is one particular person on Facebook who seems to always misunderstand what I say and takes issue with it. At least, she’s the only one who comments about her confusion. It’s frustrating because in these discussions, where body language cannot pacify, every reply only seems to make things worse. Smiley faces seem the way to go to give a real simple and basic message that you aren’t trying to cause offence, but there’s got to be something better.

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