I remember it like it was yesterday: Sometime in 2006, I was accepted to college. I remember being so excited that I could finally get a Facebook account. Back before Zuckerberg went all in, Facebook would only let you get an account if you had a “.edu” email. It was a rite of passage, a privilege to have Facebook. MySpace was dying, and Facebook was the real deal.
Today, people share everything on Facebook, from food, to life events, and everything in between. Quite honestly, the only reason I have Facebook is to watch train wrecks and see what my exes are doing.
Whenever I log on to Facebook, it’s always something. A fraternity brother is now engaged, and I didn’t even know he was dating. Someone else is buying a home with a woman he may or may not divorce in ten years. Other times, it gets messy. As a society, we seemed to have moved away from actual social interaction and towards “I saw on Facebook that you went to Hibachi on Thursday, how was it?”
Facebook provides a front row seat, a voyeur into people’s lives that they have created with each ridiculous, overly personal status update. On the best occasions, I am afforded a rare opportunity when people talk about their problems in their status; you get to watch the building catch fire and burn to the ground. Facebook is like watching reality TV, only it’s actually real. Some people’s guilty pleasure are shows like American Idol, The Bachelor, or whatever show that annoying Mormon family with the brood mare wife and child-molesting son has. But for me, seeing an acquaintance from high school call out her baby’s daddy for being a deadbeat is so much more interesting.
Sometimes, I take a look at what my exes are doing. It’s weird seeing your first girlfriend already married and divorced, but having a window into her life and seeing the event unfold is way better than TV. We haven’t spoken in years, and it feels almost wrong to be able to access someone’s personal life to this degree, but fuck it. Without Facebook, how would I know that girl I hooked up with in Costa Rica eight years ago was actually dating a girl that later became a man? It is incredible what some basic internet investigation can yield. It’s also particularly enjoyable knowing that the know-it-all dickhead from grad school still doesn’t have a job in the field. I guess all that sucking up to the professors and attending the pointless “non-mandatory professional development” meetings really paid off.
To get to the good stuff, though, you have to wade through the bullshit. Every time I see someone buying a new car that they bought with their “Mrs.” Degree or some overpriced $15,000 engagement ring, I die a little inside. Facebook is filled with humblebrags, selfies or political rants about Caitlyn Jenner or whatever flavor of the week is popular.
What still surprises me is that people over the age of 16 put up intimate details of their break ups by calling out (often in broken English) how they are better off without their girlfriend/boyfriend. People seem to no longer have any pride in themselves. I’ve also learned to avoid any form of comment section, religious or political page because there are some sad, scary people on this planet and it makes me wonder how they manage to breath without forgetting.
Maybe I’m getting old or something. It’s weird seeing my younger cousins that I remember being born putting their prom pictures up or my grandma comment or like everything I do. I really don’t even post anymore because it’s sure to fire someone up. Long ago, I scrubbed anything that would be remotely offensive to employers from my profile.
So what’s the point of social media? Like any guilty pleasure, social media is never filling, like eating Chinese food, and I’m always hungry for something better but too lazy to do anything about it. Much like my high school guilty pleasure of watching Maury, it always boils down to “well at least it’s not me” as a way to rationalize why I even bother. I feel like somewhere, the metaphorical Facebook god is asking me, “Are you not entertained?”
eSocial media is an interesting world. It gives people the “special snowflake” syndrome where every selfie, meal, new house or clean apartment needs to be given praise or attention — otherwise, it never happened. Social media gives voices to crazies, let’s others put up too much personal information, or it can actually become an addiction like this guy who became suicidal over not being able to get the right selfie. What a world we live in. #Marglife here I come..