More and more these days I find that Facebook has become a seething hotbed of Egos throwing temper tantrums. Little children in their cots throwing out their toys when their demands have not been acknowledged or met. Me, me, me! Look at Me!
The types of reactions I’ve observed on Facebook when someone posts something to their wall are:
2. Mild interest
3. Pawing and fawning
4. Disagreements and arguments
The corresponding types of posts that generate the above reactions are, in the same order:
1. Neutral Causes for Humanity – e.g Greenpeace, Save the Whales, Stop Fracking, Legalise Marijuana, Save the Rainforests
2. What I did/ate/made/saw
3. “I am a great Musician/Actor/Celebrity” type of egocentric posts
4. “This is my opinion, and I am expressing it” posts
It seems clear that the more one is invested in an idea, the more opinions they have. And that’s a dangerous thing on social media, especially on Facebook with its 1 billion users. 1 billion users = 1 billion opinions = major, major disagreements. Yes, I’m sad to say that it also seems clear that human beings no longer listen to understand, but instead they listen just enough to prepare for their response. That’s the part where the Ego does the talking.
The Ego is not interested in Humanitarian causes. That does not feed or nurture it. Hence the indifference to posts about Neutral Causes. The general attitude is “If it doesn’t affect me directly, it’s not important”.
(The subject of Gay Marriage does not fall under Neutral Causes on my list above. This is obviously because it DOES affect people directly, and they are invested in it, people’s lives are changing because of recent changes in legislation…therefore it is NOT a neutral, humanity-based cause. I would instead put it in the 4th category on my list).
We should count ourselves very lucky that Facebook’s algorithms only allow users to see a teeny tiny percentage of the entire Facebook feed. This percentage comprises the posts of their circle of friends and Pages they have liked or subscribe to. And even that is enough to spark off heated debates and arguments, with “Unfriending” galore.
Imagine if Facebook allowed the entire feed of its 1 billion users to be seen on every single user’s feed. The whole world would come to a standstill, there would be anarchy and chaos.
Let’s leave that fracas for a minute, and go back to the List.
1. Neutral Causes for Humanity.
People are either not invested in these causes themselves, not interested, or they don’t know enough about it to form an opinion. Posts of this ilk are generally brushed off, shrugged off, ignored. Facebook provides a handy “I don’t want to see this post” link, where one can easily draw the blinds over one’s own eyes, out of sight out of mind. If I keep my eyes closed, the boogeyman can’t get me, it’s not real…right?
2. What I did/made/ate/saw.
These posts make up most of Facebook’s individual feeds. Users seem to believe that their friends are desperate to know what they’re doing, what they’re wearing, or what their dinner looks like. There are genuine posts, of course, that share things like “I just watched this film, and here’s what I thought of it”. Fair enough. Posts of users sharing news or photos of new additions to the family, of marriages or deaths…in this way Facebook can be a very handy way of spreading the word to everyone with an investment in it. Or shares of News as it unfolds. This can be very useful to bring current events to the attention of users. For example, the very recent tragedy of the drowned Syrian refugee children – that is surely a clarion call for the World to wake up and take action.
3. “I am a great Musician/Actor/Celebrity” posts. The really great Musician/Actor/Celebrity types don’t need to bleat about themselves, they have fans to do it for them, who set up Facebook Pages dedicated to them. They’re too busy for Social Media, or more likely savvy enough to stay away from it, as they are well aware their every action or word will get quoted, misquoted, taken entirely out of context. No, for this category I’m talking about the aspiring wannabes who post their vanity up for their fans to read. That’s where the pawing and fawning comes in. Everyone these days is a musician, artist, writer, photographer, etc and Facebook is their soapbox. Sometimes it really is the case of The Emperor’s New Clothes, for example, some “artists” have no idea what Music is, but because their “fans” are pawing and fawning over their posts, their Egos get stoked and stroked and inflated…which only encourages them to post even more. Someone only has to comment “Good morning!” and the aspiring wannabe will proceed to tell them all about the weather, the morning they’ve had, what they just ate, the piece they’re working on, etc.
4. “This is my opinion, and I am expressing it” posts.
Perhaps the most contentious of all 4 types of posts. Where 1 billion Facebook users = 1 billion opinions =
World War Three major disagreements and arguments comes in. I try to avoid engaging in these. Not my circus, not my monkeys. Just lots of Egos fighting for the right to be right. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, let’s just leave it like that, no need to get all argumentative about it. I’m staying well out of it, because you can’t argue with idiots without being one yourself.
What I would dearly love to see is this: a reversal of the above List and its corresponding Reactions. I would like to see people getting excited about Neutral Causes for Humanity, and indifferent about Opinion posts. Leave your Egos behind, and try to see how the World is falling to pieces around us, because of our own Greed and Selfishness, and then try to find ways to help save the World. If Society carries on the way it is now, there will be no future for our children and their children.
You don’t need to do one big thing, just start with doing one little thing. And then another, and another. It’s a Start. Not The End.