Friday, December 28, 2018

Why Not Facebook? - Part Two

Part Two - Twitter

Yet others will seek humor in new places.  Enter social media. Twitter is funny. BSKing had sent me research that this was what kept people hooked, but I can't find it.  The test-it-yourself evidence of this is how much anger and crap people will wade through in order to finally get a laugh to share, like one of those pigeons pecking at the bar 75 times until it gets a pellet. Half the funny stuff I have seen in the last year is a tweet someone has passed on. The medium forces people to be brief.  Those who want to tell extended stories with successive tweets quickly learn the art of keeping the readers involved, because they are otherwise going away. (Which is still not as bad as having lit cigarettes flicked at your sport coat.) I only follow two of my sons on twitter, largely because they are funny themselves and have found an array of funny others that they scour and retweet. I get it that there is this entire unhealthy world out there ready to denounce you if you try to tweet anything serious, but I don’t live in that part of the city. If I did, I would quickly take the bait and become involved in stupid arguments with the neighbors. And the shopkeepers, customers, and people walking their dogs, too. 
Part Three - Facebook

Facebook has much more of all of this this than people credit.  Lots of funny stuff.  Not as much as Twitter, but there’s plenty of little videos of kids saying cute things or puppies spilling milk on sleeping owners. People post wry comments, or relate frustrations in at least semi-good humor about traffic or minor illnesses. This is one of the big reasons why we come back.  Pigeon.  Bar. Pellet.

Nearly everyone claims that they don’t put up political stuff, or not very much – they just like to keep in touch with family at a distance or friends far away. Facebook has been amazingly good at reconnecting people you would have had to stalk and cold contact if you wanted to find out about otherwise. On FB, a friend from long ago comments on a third friend’s post and you are off and running. I enjoyed and used this aspect when I was on Facebook. It also gives you an advance warning system of whether you want  to be connected. You can click over and read the clues about who they have become over the years.

So, they don’t think they are being political, but they have to tell everyone after a shooting how terrible it is that the NRA has bought off congress, preventing common sense gun control; or they tell you how proud they are to be an American, and it’s not Fourth of July or Memorial Day and it seems to have a truculent, not joyful tone to it, so that you wonder Am I are overreading, oversensitive, or is there some issue here?; or they keep putting up posts about being a conscience vegan – bright, shiny, friendly posts with flowers and cartoon animals; or they have Jesus posts that might be just light and joyful and grateful for a cancer-free diagnosis for a relative, but maybe some what-is-it edge of preening or accusation. That’s not even counting the people who have to pull an example from the news about the ignorant thing some state legislator from Missouri just said, with the clear intention of suggestion that most people of the opposing party are like that at least secretly – or bemoaning/congratulating their state for having done the obviously correct/horribly stupid thing about a controversial issue - or blaming/crediting Obama/Trump for the economy or price of gas; or posting some very poor journalism about new research that says women are pretty obviously oppressed or Danes are much happier* or how no one can name even three of the Ten Commandments anymore. We are forcing each other to read the Letters To The Editor page by surprising people we theoretically don't want to hurt. Except the evidence says we don't really care if we insult them.  If challenged, we'll just say "Oh I didn't mean you, Jim!  You're one of the good niggers."  Or something. We're just announcing what we care about. Before they have a chance to turn the page.

No, you don’t post much about politics or religion or controversial culture at all Jimmy (it’s hard to pick a generic name there without looking like I am thinking of a specific person).  Just enough to piss off half your friends once a week so they have to sigh and make an effort to just put it aside. You picked a declarative medium that makes even mild pushback look like a personal attack, so you can get away with saying very insulting things about others who have little recourse. And if even a measured response takes more than three sentences to do it justice, Facebook is nearly useless. When you hit the third sentence of even a polite reply you already look like a fanatic on Facebook. I found it was infuriating to people if I even wrote  Don’t jump to conclusions. None of us has the whole story yet.  Wait for more to come out, never mind any actual disagreement.  Absolutely do not point out that one side of the argument did the identical thing or worse three months ago, so please don’t engage in such blanket condemnation everyone. 

There are lots and lots of people who actually are nonpolitical, noncontroversial on Facebook, because their goal really is to see pictures of dance recitals and engagements and graduations. But Facebook is the perfect cover for deluding yourself that you aren’t really being difficult about these things, just because 90% of your posts are about having lunch with your niece or thanking the electrical crews for their hard work getting the power back on - so that when you offend people it has taken them completely by surprise. Yeah, great. 

I don't think people actually read what they write and think about who is reading.

I never unfriended anyone on FB, but I unfollowed more and more people – some within hours of accepting them as friends.  Eventually, not enough was funny, and too few people were reliable. I had wavered long.  When all the privacy scandals and dishonesty about political bias came out, confirming what I had claimed two years earlier and been sneered at for – that was a good final push out the door. Facebook is a medium that allows people to shamelessly cheat on social rules that we have developed over thousands of years, and congratulate themselves what fine folks they are.

My wife is still on. She A) cares more about updates on graduations, illness, and family travel photos and B) is better able to just ignore people writing inflammatory things. For me the cost is now too high for the reward.

*I have had it up to here with happiness research.  The research itself is usually flawed, and the reporting on it is worse. If you want to learn how to see through misleading research in the news, happiness studies would be a great way to start. First hint: Scandinavians consider it a point of honor to make their country look as good as possible, and they see through the questions right away, being smart people. So despite their high suicide rates, they score well on happiness measures. It doesn’t mean they are actually happy.  They might be, but we don’t have much way of knowing.


RichardJohnson said...

*I have had it up to here with happiness research. The research itself is usually flawed, and the reporting on it is worse.

For example: Once Voted Happiest Country In the World, Venezuela Is Starving to Death.

james said...

I've wondered if cat videos were one thing we could still agree on despite political divergences. If so, hurray for cat videos!

I suspect that steady helpings of entertainment aren't good for the spirit of either the indulgee or the indulger. After an overdose your "sweet tooth" is done for the day and you have to say: "I love it when you laugh with me, but I can be serious too, and feel things profoundly--or at least angrily. Really! I can be serious! Don't laugh!"

Donna B. said...

Most of my Facebook time is spent on private groups, mostly family-related. One of them has 4 members, another over a 1000 (all members with some tie to my Dad's hometown). The large group is single topic -- posts are what was eaten today and often without photos or really bad photos. It ranges from Fruity Pebbles to Prime Rib. Occasionally a recipe is shared in the comments.

I suppose the last public post I made was a bit political. It linked to a how-to video that called for using "locally-sourced organic plastic wrap". Oh yeah, I had fun with that.

Christopher B said...

I'm ok on FB, mostly by not friending many people, pretty ruthlessly unfollowing anybody who posts political stuff (one and done), and regular use of the 'block all from' when somebody does make a political post. I do let a few slide, as opposition research.

Christopher B said...

Donna .. I'm sure you did! that was lol.

Texan99 said...

Although I never unfriend anyone, I quickly unfollow anyone whose posts are too angry or smug or even too frequently and pointedly political. It's true that my threshold for unfunniness is lower if I agree with the politics. I cut FB friends enormous slack if their political posts are far outnumbered by their nonsectarian ones, in part for fear that I'm strengthening my bubble by screening all politics. Still, I weary even of political posts I agree with if they're too angry and too dumb. A couple of internal whatEVER responses and they're gone.

I posted a "Hipster Nativity" cartoon the other day that I thought was quite funny but not insulting. I noticed that I got a fairly appreciative response from a variety of people across the political spectrum, and only one "NOT FUNNY"--and that last was from a guy whose views I understand so little that I'm not really sure what he thought wasn't funny. The fun poked at the hipster in all of us modern people, or the implied insult to a traditional nativity scene? (Joseph was about to post a selfie of the Holy Family, the shorn lamb had on a cruelty-free holiday sweater, there was a solar panel on the roof of the manger, the Three Wise Men arrived on Segways with Amazon boxes.)

Texan99 said...

My threshold for unfunniness is lower if I "disagree" with the politics, that is.

Sam L. said...

This is why I loooooooooooooooooooong ago determined I never wanted to be on Facebook.

RichardJohnson said...

I don't do Facebook- never have. When visiting my brother, I looked at the Facebook site for hometown peers. There were very few political posts. Most were about various reminiscences. Regarding some scandals from decades ago inadvertently discussed at the hometown site, I am reminded of what Tom Lehrer once said: "I better leave this line out just to be on the safe side in My Hometown."

When recently visiting my sister I looked at some Facebook postings of relatives or high school friends. Most of these are Democrats. I didn't notice many snarky or 'humorous' posts directed at Republicans. Politically oriented postings were more of the one-liner earnest Democrat ilk, such as 'we don't call immigrants rapists' or 'Obamacare is the greatest thing since sliced bread.' A cousin in LA, probably by virtue of being an entrepreneur, was the only one posting from the other side of the aisle. He didn't use much humor- merely pointed out the absurdity of some Demo claims.Which does has its humorous side- for some.

Texan99 said...

My feed has an awful lot of lost and found dogs and cats, and pictures of construction progress.

Jonathan said...

"Oh I didn't mean you, Jim! You're one of the good niggers."

Ha, I think many of us have heard some version of this. The person who says it is letting you know that he doesn't realize or care what he's saying about a large fraction of the population. Some of the people he's talking to are probably going to decide that he's not worth arguing with. So he may not get feedback that could get him to reconsider his position. I have an acquaintance who told me I'm the only Republican he's met who is not a racist. He's a decent guy and we share nonpolitical interests and I don't want to argue with him, and I doubt I could change his mind in any case. So I let it go and nothing changes.

Donna B. said...

For some people Facebook is very bad. My friend list is short, but I have a family member who has almost 5000 FB friends. I know this because he posted that he was going to have to cull some to add new ones. Apparently, 4999 is the limit. Perhaps one of the reasons he has so many is that he never posts anything political. Most of his posts are of his garden (it's not a "normal" garden) or photos of himself that are... bizarre. What worries everyone in the family is that he spends so much time on FB, preferring it over any other interaction. I've watched a vibrant, interesting person isolate himself. Honestly, I think he's mentally ill and would have found a way to do this without a computer or Facebook... but as a facilitator, Facebook is good.