I 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.
Some 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.
Facebook 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.