When I joined Facebook a couple of years ago, it was for a one year research project on which I was collaborating with another writer friend. Nearly three years later, I am still on FB – because I am hooked – in spite of the fact that our study somewhat validates what my anti-Facebook friend often says, “Overall, FB is a platform for narcissists and cowards.”
The premise of our project was to determine whether FB feeds the ego of narcissists and mean-spirited people. Although I documented various examples of subtle disrespect and innuendos among (ahem!) friends, my data reveals that there is much more positive information being shared on that site than negative. However, despite its usefulness in providing a medium for worthwhile information, Facebook does appear to be, figuratively speaking, an online Jumbotron for narcissists – who post pictures of themselves, weekly and sometimes daily; and lessor for killjoys, who enjoy putting others down. Both have an insatiable hunger for attention.
What some FB users fail to realize is that many FB lovers post information primarily for their real friends and relatives, and occasionally those posts tend to annoy others. Unless a comment that you dislike is directed to you personally, or is about you, or someone is holding a gun to your head and ordering you to post a response, then why not ignore it? No adult needs your permission or approval to post something on their own page. Countering someone else’s photo or statement with a snide comment doesn’t degrade the person who posted the item, but it sure makes you look small.
Do you own study. Critique the page of some of your FB friends. You are likely to find that men tend to post cover photos of themselves wearing either professional attire, sportswear, or – if they are younger and buffed, shirtless. Women generally post head and bust shots; showing their cleavage, hairdo, or a picture of herself wearing a sharp outfit or fashionable shoes. Women also enjoy posting photos of loved ones including their significant other, children, and grandchildren.
There is a considerable difference in comments written by each gender. Men enjoy talking about sports, politics or current events. Women, on the other hand, tend to talk about relationships – theirs or someone else’s; their material possessions; places they are going or have been; and other people.
FB provides a venue for mean-spirited people with low-self esteem who get-off on making snide comments while avoiding face-to-face confrontations. Young people who do that are often called bullies, but what do you call full grown adults who are old enough, but apparently not smart enough, to adhere to the adage that “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all?” If someone writes something that you don’t want to read, don’t read it. And if you feel like you are the target of a negative comment take the high road — ignore it. There is nothing that drives a self-centered person crazier than being ignored.
I know people who have left Facebook or refuse to join it, or any social network, because they believe it invades privacy. My personal barometer for determining whether to post or not to post something is the same as it is off-line: If I would normally tell “my business” only to a confidant or close relative, then I would definitely not share it on line anymore than I would tell that secret face-to-face to a person who I didn’t trust.
Facebook provides a public forum on which you or I or anyone can boast, rant, rave, or praise. But while exercising that First Amendment right, it is wise to remember this: Facebook pages will come and go, and while things like typos, misspelled words or bad grammar may be overlooked, the things that we post on social media will outlive us.