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Thursday, 7 November 2013

That 7 Ways To Be Insufferable on Facebook Article

Shazam, bitches, I'm back. I was having difficulty deciding what to write about in my first post since January, and while I did ask for suggestions from my friends, half of them wanted me to write about how Liverpool supporters sacrifice kittens to Satan in the hope it would start another entertaining war (and I'm not that much of a one trick pony), and the others came up with stuff that wasn't really in keeping with the tone of this blog, like 'how nice orange Chewits are'. I even had a little look at The Daily Mail's website, but there was nothing there worth ranting about for once, although they do claim that payday loan companies are using adverts to brainwash your children, so, you know, be scared about that if you like.

Instead, I decided to revisit the subject of annoying Facebook usage. I first wrote about this when this blog was new back in 2010, and I still stand by the points in it, though some of the trends mentioned seem to have happily fucked off - I don't remember the last time someone asked me to do anything with a farm or become mayor of Yeovil. Of course, there are new annoying things, like those really big fucking yellow faces people use in chat windows now and of course the Bitstrip (I had a beer earlier that was really hard to open. It foamed up a bit and some beer went on me. That story would by some people be deemed interesting enough to warrant a representation in cartoon form). I must admit I have only just got on the 'finding them annoying' bandwagon, at first I found them kind of cute and not that bothersome, but a tipping point has been reached and I have to say I have only seen one that I actually laughed at, and I only laughed at that because it was an in joke I was in on. I'm not saying the people who made them are unfunny people, by any means, but there is something willfully unfunny about the medium. As an experiment, I have struggled for days to think of even a single joke I could turn into one, not counting inside jokes, and I can't, unless you can just make them not be about you and be about Luis Suarez instead, then I can think of loads. The worst part is they have started to remind me of that Nemi cartoon in the Metro, a cartoon that sucked with such astonishing ferocity (probably still does, I haven't seen a Metro in over two years) that even an advert for something really useless like, I don't know, a solar powered vibrator or Jamie Carragher would have been a better use of space.

In any case, another writer by the name of Wait But Why (possibly a pseudonym, though I prefer to imagine that's his real name and he just had a really batshit crazy mother) tackled the territory of the annoying Facebook status update recently in an article on The Huffington Post entitled 7 Ways To Be Insufferable on Facebook. This article gained a lot of traction, and a few other sites have already expressed their views on it. The ones I've read were all a bit whiny ('it's my Facebook, why can't I write that I'm having a banana or that it's sad that there was some flood and thousands of people died, you don't have to read it, unfriend me if you don't like it!' being the tone - yes, fair argument, but you sound like a gimp and you are basically defending your right, which you do of course have, to be bland. Plus, there was a load of stuff about how really we should all talk to each other face to face instead anyway, which sounds like something someone old would say and has, essentially, nothing to do with anything in the Huff Post article). So I thought I'd have a stab.

Wait But Why (I've only typed that twice and I'm already annoyed with him for not calling himself something proper) starts off with an example of what is admittedly, a stratospherically shit status update he saw somewhere. No problems so far, I was on board. But then he gets on to what makes the difference between a good status update and one that he doesn't like and wants to die, and this is where I do not agree with the fella.

His overarching point is that for a Facebook status update to have any worth, it needs to either be very interesting or very entertaining - to everyone who will see it. Well, actually, that is true. If you are a business carrying out some Facebook marketing and targetting a specific demographic. For normal, personal accounts, it isn't even possible for most people. If I post a link to an article I find interesting about football, a lot of my friends will not find any value in it - many of them couldn't give a jet propelled fuck what Eden Hazard is up to - but then many of them also would be interested in reading it. Equally, if you post a review of the restaurant you ate at last night, chances are many of your friends will not get anything out of this either, because you probably know some people who don't live where you live. But that doesn't mean these things aren't worth sharing. Sure, you can set it up so only certain people see certain posts but who can honestly be bothered to go through the hundreds of people they know and sort them into 'people who might like reading stuff about Eden Hazard', and other such categories? Not everyone is going to get every joke or give a damn about every picture of your cat or your children, but that doesn't make them worthless in terms of what Facebook is for.

He then gets into his list of seven habits of highly insufferable people. While he does acknowledge that he is as guilty as anyone of them, presumably thinking this stops him sounding all 'Ooooh, I am King Wait But Why, handing down life lessons from my pedestal of perfection' (though he still kind of does), this to me is why the whole argument he presents is kind of shit. In my 2010 article I said it annoys me when people intentionally spell words wrong and write shit like 'whoop whoop!' - these are things I don't do because I think they're stupid, and if you think they're stupid you don't do them either. These sorts of articles, the way I see it, are supposed to make the reader (if they agree), laugh and go, 'oh yeah, those things are annoying'. By going into detail about things, some or all of which just about every user does (except those weird people who only log on every few years to announce they've had a baby or moved to Myanmar or some other big development) doesn't make people feel entertained, it makes them feel a bit crappy. Are we all just annoying the fuck out of hundreds of people every day? Does nobody care that you got a speeding ticket or had a bad day at work or beat your best time out running? Does everyone secretly think you're a bit of a twat?


Firstly, he hates bragging. That kind of makes sense on the face of it, nobody likes a smug bastard after all, but what he terms bragging seems to be essentially 'saying anything at all positive about your life'. Saying you graduated, got promoted, are going on a nice holiday, or even just had a good weekend doing something fun, all of this apparently makes you quite the tosser. It doesn't though, does it? Of course it will vary according to how well you know the person how much you give a shit about their news, I'm not denying that, but have you ever honestly seen someone's post saying they got promoted (unless you were after the job yourself) and been pissed off that they deigned to bother you with their happiness?  He thinks people write this sort of stuff because they want people to be envious, to craft a certain image of themselves, or simply out of vanity. I'm sure some do. But are these status updates, in and of themselves, insufferable? I say no.

He does, in this section, also talk a bit about those kind of soppy status updates people sometimes post about their relationships and how much they love their significant other. Personally, I'm not a fan of these because I've seen a few people go from banging on endlessly about how wonderful their boyfriend is to a few months later banging on about what an absolute cock he is now he's an ex, and sure, you're going to be doing that to your best friends anyway but to everyone you know, all the time? Bit humiliating. Also sometimes it gets massively overdone and can be a bit gross. But again, he says people do this as a brag to try and make their friends jealous of their fabulous relationship, and that's a bit of a cynical way of looking at someone showing some affection for someone else.

Cryptic Cliffhangers

The next one he talks about I don't like either - the vague, cryptic status update where you are basically just sort of fishing for everyone to go 'What happened?" and give you lots of attention or sympathy. Now, while I do find these status updates annoying because, well, they are, I don't necessarily think it's that obnoxious to be basically asking for people's attention if you are excited to share something, or to seek out a bit of support from your mates if you are sad or pissed off, so I think it is a bit harsh to say that everyone who does this, albeit quite irritating thing, is just some high maintenance drama whore. I'd just rather they spat it out in the first place.

Mundane Status Updates About Your Day

I covered my thoughts on this in my previous article so, you know, you can read that if you care. Sure, I don't think anyone in the world gives a shit about half the stuff we all say, but it's a way to while away the hours until death, isn't it? However, I think Facebook would be more fun if, when you're bored and feel the need to say something, instead of writing the things you are doing if they aren't very interesting, you wrote the random thoughts in your head. This always leads to way more interesting comments because I find people tend to be way more ready to debate whether spiders have souls or what would happen to a mosquito if it bit an AIDS infected lion (lion AIDS is a real thing and I think Bono should be doing something about it, by the way) than engage with you about how you have just eaten a pear.

Inexplicably Public Private Messages

I do this all the bastarding time. This is the one where you tag a friend in a status that doesn't really have any relevance to anyone else, or you post something related to an inside joke or secret that most people won't understand. He reckons people do this because they think they are still in high school and looking popular is important. In my case he is absolutely right.

The Out Of Nowhere Oscar Acceptance Speech

This is Whatsisname's name for when someone randomly writes something about how much they love all their friends and how they thank them for all their support and whatnot. He says people do this for attention, or because it's Christmas. I think people only do it when they've been dumped and have had some vodka, personally. Sure, it's a bit cheesy and I take his point that it could be construed as insincere because it's unlikely (unless you keep your friends list small) that you actually are grateful to absolutely everyone, but these are pretty infrequent posts so they don't reach the level of insufferability of many things he doesn't mention, like 'if you don't share this you don't support X good cause that everybody supports and there's something wrong with you and you should be in prison', or its close friend 'share this if you love your kids/mum/dad'. What, really, are there people on my Facebook who think 'hmmmm, Melanie Jones didn't share that picture I shared confirming that she thinks guide dogs are good. I suspect she is a Nazi and a psychopath.'? I don't think there are. It's usually Twitter where people form those sort of deranged ideas.

Incredibly Obvious Opinions

This one actually does bore the granny out of me I have to say. You know the drill - something bad happens somewhere, whether it's a natural disaster, an accident or a terrible crime, and your news feed is suddenly full of people basically saying that it was bad and they are sad about it. Just as with not feeling the need to repost things mentioning that, yes, I do indeed think nurses are a good thing or it's bad when babies get meningitis, I just don't think there's any point in saying that kind of thing because it's sort of obvious (hopefully) that you don't like it when loads of people die tragically. I think you need to have something more to add if you are going to bother commenting on upsetting major news events, not because it's obnoxious to care and express that you care, but because if you aren't throwing in anything above and beyond 'mass murder bums me out' you are just adding to the hundreds of other identical comments in everyone's news feeds. I agree with the concept Whatshisname is raising here, but I would once again say that the motives he suspects people who write these, admittedly, unimaginative and boring, but far from unpleasant statuses come over as a bit harsh. Yeah, I sometimes feel like certain people are a bit like 'look at me, I'm a nice person, I care!', and sure, I suppose that is in some ways 'image crafting' as he puts it, but is it really that bad to want people to think you are nice? You know, if you actually are and you're not just trying to mask the fact you're a sociopath.

The Step Toward Enlightenment

Those inspirational quotes, well, they bug the shit out of a lot of people I know so maybe I'm with the guy on this one although it depends a lot on what the quote says. If it is that fucking Marilyn Monroe 'If you can't handle me at my worst...' one you can fuck right off for starters. I have to say though, that again, I think he's wrong about why people do it. It's not because they vainly think that they have the answers and want their friends to see them as inspiring people - if it was they'd post their own words not stuff anyone can find that the Dalai Lama might have said. I think generally people do it simply because they saw it and thought it was a good thing to say.

In discussing these points with some friends and seeing other comments from other people who had read the article, it bothered me how the knee jerk reaction was 'well, nearly all status updates fall into one of these categories'. If they do, why do we even read them? So, I've been paying closer attention to my own friends' updates and looked back over a lot of my own, and I have actually reached the conclusion that no, they don't. While all of these behaviours do exist, a lot of what I also see from the people I am connected to on there are witty observations, attempts to voice an opinion about something, funny anecdotes about things that happened to my friends that day, creative stuff they have done that they are sharing and statuses designed to start interesting conversations, or inevitably, arguments about football. Take a look at your own friends, chances are there's a lot of good stuff there too.

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