Friday, January 29, 2010

Communications and Technology Part 2: The woes of Facebook

3 out of 10 (insert demographic here) suffer from (insert malady/hardship here), My wish in 2010 is people understand that (insert demographic here) aren't (x). People are ashamed by this issue and won't talk about it. (insert percentage here, typically 73%) won't post this as their status, won't you be part of the other (insert % here) that supports (insert demographic here)?

Does this look familiar?  If you are on Facebook and have over 5 friends, I have no doubt you've seen this posted many times over the last month as someone's status.  I don't have an issue with someone showing support for something they believe in, but reposting something from someone else with subjective terms identifying the demographic's feelings and random statistics to try and prove a point is ridiculous. 

This is why I think people are lazy sometimes or just don't get it.  When you repost something, even if it's something you care about deeply, you should at least take the time and read it and think about what it says.  Otherwise you look like an idiot.  Wow, that's a bit harsh isn't it?  Well think about this, if you were talking to someone face to face and they were spouting off a paragraph such as the one above, what would your perceptions of that person be?

1. Would it be that they are trying to appear knowledgeable about a topic that they don't have many facts on? 
2. Would it be that they are full of shit and are just trying to push their opinion on others? 
3. Or would it be that they deeply care about the issue and even though they can't answer any follow-up questions to their subjective terms and statistics they should be taken seriously?

My guess is in a face to face conversation a good majority of people fall under number 1 or 2 rather then 3. (Notice I didn't use a random percentage here for justification)

Let's step aside from chain mail statuses and move to some other status types that people post. 

1. Political views
2. What I had for dinner
3. Feelings at the moment
4. Witty comments
5. Random song lyrics or Movie quotes
6. Weather updates
7. Status updates of something you are doing
8. Religious view

I know it's the basis of Facebook to post your status and everyone at one point or another posts a status that someone else doesn't like.  There's nothing wrong with that, but if it's something you wouldn't say to someone if they called you on the phone out of the blue, then why in the world would you post it as your status.  Let me rephrase that, if it's something you wouldn't say to over 50% of your friends on Facebook if you were actually talking to them, why would you post it as your status. 

Let's take an innocent phrase like "Yum, I'm eating a bagel".  That must be one magnificent tasting bagel for you to put it as your status, so take a second and tell me where you got it, or why in the world it's so damn tasty.  Because that's what a real conversation would be.  It's also a pretty good idea to limit the number of times you post about your breakfast; after all, if I was talking to you, how many times over the course of a month would you tolerate me talking about my breakfast?  It probably wouldn't take long until you decided that I might be the pretty boring or that my IQ level was just above functionally disabled. 

Another popular status posting is political or religious views. The rule of thumb is not to talk politics and religion with people because it's a disaster waiting to happen.  Personally I'm not inclined to always agree with this rule, but if you want to be shown to be narrow minded or ill informed there is no better way in my opinion to do this then to spout off a couple political postings on a regular basis.  Politics and religion are emotional and complex topics.  Posting statements as your status is at its best showing you are naive to the sensitivity and complexity of the issue and at worst using a shared tool as a pulpit for preaching.  It's just not a forum to engage in complex conversation.  If you feel the need to post a thought or comment on it, at least give a bit of thought too how it's read by others. It also wouldn't hurt to reference my bagel example above and take a hard look at how often you are posting something like this.

My point here is about selection, take a couple minutes to think about what you are posting and how often you are posting on that topic.  People are forming perceptions based on your posts, and it's beneficial to you to think about it.

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