Facebook: What’s Not To Like?

confusedI joined Facebook in early 2009, a respectable four years after the social media network gained popularity beyond the American college crowd. No early adopter, I wasn’t a bandwagoner either.

For the past few years, I’ve been immersed in Facebook for my job, and have developed a love/hate relationship with the platform – an occupational hazard. I spend several hours each day befuddled by the behavior of humans, when given the opportunity to comment, share or “like” at will.

I have so many questions.

For starters:

Image result for trump thumbs upSome Facebook users “like” their own posts. Why do they do this? Isn’t their favorable opinion of the content kind of implied, by the decision to post it? Maybe by liking the post they mean to suggest it’s especially worth a read – but I’ve yet to see someone like just SOME of his/her posts. If it’s thumbs up for some, it’s usually a thumbs up for all.

It’s a head scratcher, I tell you.


2015-04-22-1429736406-280835-Lizlemoneyeroll.gifFacebook offers several ways to reach out to individual friends with personal messages. Remember “poking” just to say hello? Poking still exists, although none of my friends (thankfully) ever embraced the feature. There’s also private messaging, and the Facebook Messenger app.

Nevertheless, posting a one-to-one message on a friend’s wall is puzzlingly popular. It ends up in the feeds of the recipient’s entire network of friends. Does the poster understand this, I wonder?

Posting to a friend’s wall is commonly used to wish him/her a happy birthday. It’s like an online party, and what’s not to like about that? Everyone deserves a birthday party!

Unfortunately, it’s also how the occasional newlywed lets his new bride know how much he missed her today, and that he’ll be home soon for dinner. (*Groan*) Or how a stranger tries to reconnect with an old friend: “It’s been too long! I’ll call you this weekend to schedule cocktails.”

Then there’s the user you don’t even know, who shares to a mutual friend’s wall daily. As a favor, I guess?

The thing is, if John and his friends wanted to receive Webster’s word-of-the-day in our Facebook feeds, we’d sign up for it, wouldn’t we?


“Vaguebooking”. I knew it was a thing, but until recently didn’t realize it had a name. It’s essentially Facebook comment bait: “Today my life changed forever!” or “I can’t believe what just happened to me!”

Most of us have done it from time to time – accidentally — in a fit of self-pity after a bad day. In our hangdog state, we assume everyone on Facebook knows what we’re talking about.

But for some users it’s habitual and contrived. A concerned reply to the post is usually rewarded with a mundane, one-percenter-with-a-first-world-problem clarification such as, “Whole Foods ran out of organic vegan pesto.”

Vaguebookers are the reason we can’t have nice things.

I’m (sort of) joking, of course. Facebook is like any community. Most members do their best to co-exist peacefully. When a friend posts seven vacation pics in under five minutes, it pays to remember that the photos are not necessarily intended for me – but for grandma and grandpa who live 2,000 miles away. For grandparents, there is no such thing as too many Disneyland photos.

That said, if you’re a Facebook friend and someone is posting Kim Kardashian’s Daily Word of Wisdom on your wall every morning, might I suggest that you introduce him/her to Facebook Messenger?

Your followers will thank you for it.

Even On Facebook, Silence Can Be Golden

Cartioon of man zipping his lips, with the caption "Zip It!"Social media generally isn’t a place where things happen, at least for my friends and me. It’s a place where we share what has happened, is happening or is about to happen in our lives. We check in at our favorite restaurants and sporting arenas, post photos of kids and cocktails, and circulate links to our blogs.

For some users, Facebook is a platform for spirited debate — but not really in my case. That’s not to say I never share sarcasm or express political opinions. I do, but it’s not to provoke an argument. So if you’re looking to mix it up on social media, just keep on walking.

This week I witnessed a Facebook exchange that started out innocently enough, but went south in a hurry. It got me thinking about how the platform can morph as we expand our list of “friends” to possibly include colleagues (and former colleagues), old classmates, distant relatives, in-laws, and so on. Eventually, our posts can land in the news feeds of both close friends and distant acquaintances who have never met – with some unfortunate consequences.

My high school friend I’ll call “S” shared a bittersweet story about her daughter, who is around 6 years old and as smart as a whip.  The little girl missed out on her desired role in a school production of “Frozen”, in part thanks to the class bully. I don’t have particulars about how it all went down backstage, but according to S the bully followed up by calling her daughter a lesbian.  Her daughter replied, “I don’t think that’s a bad word, but I am not a lesbian, I don’t think, because I think I like [male classmate].”  Wasn’t that a great answer?  Didn’t I say she was smart?

It hurts to see your child profoundly disappointed and bullied, so S turned to Facebook, where her friends offered words of encouragement and praise for her daughter. A few even took shots at the bully, who was not named (and neither was the school).  It’s safe to say S is not Facebook friends with the bully’s parents, so it was all pretty tame and low risk…until someone on the string called the bully the b-word. That’s when the s-word hit the fan.

I’m not big on name calling; even if I’m fuming I usually stick with “jerk”. Still, I was shocked when one of S’s Facebook friends became outraged and let the commenter HAVE IT. She was patronizing and judgmental, which only encouraged more Go-Team comments from the crowd.

S explained in a private message that these squabbling “friends” had never met, so the indignant one didn’t realize that the name-caller is gay, and perhaps extra sensitive to terms like “lesbian” being hurled like rocks by schoolyard bullies.

If S had met friends for happy hour and shared her story, someone would probably have criticized the bully and her parents, and perhaps even called the kid a name. If the outraged Facebook friend had been in attendance, would she have brought the hammer down on the conversation? She presumably would have known everyone at the table, so would she have held her tongue or tried to subtly change the subject instead?

Did the nature of Facebook enable her in some way? There was no anonymous handle to hide behind, but her combativeness may have been fueled by geographic distance and the knowledge that there was virtually no chance she’d ever meet the name-caller face to face.

S’s friend argued that Facebook is public, and therefore an inappropriate forum in which to criticize someone else’s child — even if you don’t use his/her name. But is it really public, if your posts are seen by “friends only”?  Is the issue that many of us have been too liberal in how we’ve defined “friend”? 

In social media and on my blog, my motto is: “Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your mom or boss to read.” That doesn’t mean they have to AGREE with what I write. What’s more, I don’t feel obligated to moderate comments to my posts to ensure that they are palatable to everyone I’m connected to. If someone did something nuts like use a racial epithet, I’d delete the comment and block them. Otherwise, I assume my friends will keep debate constructive and non-personal. If they just can’t manage that, there’s always the “hide” function.

While I’ve hidden a few “my life is so great, my spouse is so hot, my house is so large” types, I would never dream of chastising them. I accept that others may find them sweet or inspirational; I just find them annoying. No need to make a big fuss about it, though. Relief it just a click or two away. 

Facebook dislike buttonS’s friend was unwilling to just step away from her computer, and the confrontation did not end well for her. The next time she is similarly incensed, maybe she’ll choose to just be still. To paraphrase a line from the Hayden Panettiere song “Boys and Buses”, if you aren’t happy with what you’re seeing on Facebook right now, “just give it ten or fifteen minutes.” By then, the offending remarks will be long gone, replaced by a new set of posts and comments to judge.

If Facebook ever reaches a point where political correctness interferes with the ability to be authentic, in the spirit of “we’re all friends here” (or at least, we’re all civilized adults here)… that’s when I’ll go shopping for a new social media outlet.