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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Before You Go: ‘Putting Facebook Under the Microscope’

CRL columnist John Gray gets real about our social media obsession.

I hate to ask this, but could you please close out of your Facebook page and give me two minutes of your time? Thanks. We are obsessed with our social media. Whether we are posting, tweeting, texting or linking, these fancy gadgets do allow us to share every single thought just seconds after it pops into our heads. Sometimes the outcome is delightful, other times disastrous. Since the average person is spending more time communicating on Facebook than with their spouse, I thought it might be fun to put the page under the microscope and look at what we’re really up to.

Let’s start with a warning. You are never going to read a book called How Facebook Saved My Marriage. On the contrary, I believe this well-intentioned site has broken up more relationships than Jerry Springer. The page is an open window to trouble. Old flames, new interests and absolute strangers with pretty profile pictures are the cheese in the mouse trap most of us should avoid. Before, someone had to go out of their way to get themselves in trouble with a person of the opposite sex; now they just need to go out of the room where no one is watching. Chatting leads to flirting and next thing you know you’re in the deep end of the pool with no lifeguard on duty.

I don’t think ex ‘s’ should be on your Facebook page. Ever. And if the conversation you’re having over Facebook isn’t something you’d want your better half to read then you need to knock it off and click the ‘unfriend’ button. I’m not against Facebook or social media; it’s a fantastic way to stay in touch with friends and family and Lord knows you can have fun on there. Just be careful. I have two Facebook pages; one professional (Fox 23) and the other personal. When it comes to the professional page, I say the more the merrier. But my personal page, like the apple tree in my yard, needs pruning now and then. It’s easy to be nice and say ‘yes’ to every friend request, but before long you have a room full of strangers eavesdropping on your life. Not smart. It’s also not wise to share too much information on your every move. I’m stunned when women keep clicking the ‘checking in’ button essentially telling the world exactly where they can be found at that moment. You might as well put up a sign that says ‘come rob my house’. Not to mention you’re telling the creepy guy on your page where he can go if he wants to stop staring at your picture and come see the “real” thing.

Being a veteran of social media, I’ve come to realize there are 10 types of people you find on Facebook. Sometimes we are guilty of being one or all of these I suppose.

Think of your friend’s pages and see if you recognize any of them.

  1. Narcissist. This is the person obsessed with, well… themselves. They post updates on their every thought and move all day and night assuming we all care. They also love pictures of, well… themselves. Sometimes they even hold the camera up to shoot themselves while in front of the mirror. They are harmless, but can drive you crazy.
  2. Drama Queen. I’m not being sexist here. This applies to the boys, too. This is the person who’s real life is an episode of “General Hospital”, “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Twilight” all rolled into one. And every time Jacob or Edward or whomever wrongs them you get tear-soaked, heart-wrenching updates. They are looking for attention and a constant stream of ‘he’s not good enough for you’ comments from their friends.
  3. Bragger. This is your friend who clearly has too much money or a better life than yours and feels it’s important to remind you of it. Posts like, “Can’t decide between Rome or Paris this summer for vacation” or “We just dropped $300 at 677 Prime, but it was TOTALLY worth it”. I won’t ‘unfriend’ the bragger, but I do fix it so I never have to see their FB status.
  4. Instigator. This is the guy or gal who jumps on your page and tries to stir the pot. You could post something, anything, about Barack Obama and they jump in and say, “He’s not even an American you know.” Next thing you know they’ve hijacked your Facebook page and all your friends are fighting.
  5. Do Gooder. This is the friend who likes to share links to every cause under the sun to make the world a better place. They want you to re-post whatever it is so they know you care, too. I don’t mind the “Do Gooder”, but I rarely cave in to their pressure to re-post.
  6. Gamer. This is your friend with way too much time on their hands. You know this because they want you to upload some new online game, assume an identity and come play with them in this virtual world. I just don’t have time to run an imaginary farm.
  7. The DJ. This is the friend who loves music and spends all their time posting songs and videos. I like the DJ because they’ve exposed me to artists I never would have heard of.
  8. The Poet. Like the DJ, except they post famous quotes and poems as their ‘status’. Since I love talented writers I’m guilty of this myself from time to time. The Drama Queen often has a touch of the ‘poet’ inside him/her,  posting lyrics or poems about how horrible love is.
  9. The Activist. Like the ‘Do Gooder’, but they aren’t trying to save the world; they hate the world, or at least certain people in it. If Sarah Palin chokes on an olive pit they take joy in it and want you to watch the video. You find them on the far ‘left’ and ‘right’ of the political spectrum. I usually bounce the activist from my page on the grounds that life is short and they’re just too darn angry all the time,And last but not least…
  10. The Sycophant. Bordering on being a full-fledged stalker, this is the person who loves someone on their page and comments on anything that person posts. You could write, “Just poked myself in the eye with a rusty knife” and they’d click LIKE and post, “Lucky knife!!!” While they are usually harmless, please consider that there’s an outside chance the sycophant follows you to the hair salon, steals the clippings off the floor and has assembled a life size doll that looks exactly like you and has your hair. Does the phrase, “It puts the lotion in the basket” ring a bell? Enough said.

All kidding aside, I love social media because as the name says, it lets us be more social. Just be careful. Don’t post things when you’re upset. Do be honest on your page, (i.e. if you’re married or in a relationship it SHOULD SAY SO.) And don’t assume anything you put on that page is private. There’s no such thing as privacy on the Internet. If you wouldn’t want your partner or family seeing something you wrote on the front page of the newspaper tomorrow, then don’t write it.

There’s an old saying, “If you don’t want to slip, stay out of slippery situations.” Facebook may be a social playground, but be careful. Those slides are covered in Crisco.

John Gray
John Gray
John Gray is an Emmy-winning journalist and writer. In addition to his 32 years of television experience, John is the author of three children's books and two novels. He is married with three children. He and his lovely wife Courtney have five dogs, three of them are rescues with special needs. They make their quiet home in Rensselaer County.

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