In the last week on Facebook, I have stumbled three times upon this phrase: “I’m Sad. Please Like me so that I will feel better.”
Being a technical inept, I initially thought that the persons sending the messages, who were already friends, wanted me to reassure them of my friendship. Well that’s fairly obvious, isn’t it? If I didn’t like them, they wouldn’t be showing up on my Facebook page.
Then I realized that these messages were along the line of the one by another friend inviting everyone over for ice cream. She wasn’t, really. As part of Facebook’s endless game options, she was virtually offering the ice cream. This is Alice in Wonderland Looking Glass stuff — it’s not real; it just looks that way.
Which comes back to my three sad friends. For the first one, I did hit the Like button, my mind screaming against common sense — Oh, you’re sad. I Like that!
The second time around, I was a little smarter — I wrote, “I’m sorry,” as a comment. I’m sure that made them feel better.
The third time, I sent a private message, in an attempt to open actual communication.
Okay, so you’re sad. Do you have any idea how long it takes me to hit the Like button? About half a second — then I move on and read about another friend’s failed chocolate cake — so failed that her husband thought that she had baked a large cookie (I bet he’s sad by now).
Do you feel any better?
If I am the only one to hit the Like button, how does that make you feel — do you conclude that there is only one person in your world who remotely cares that you are sad?
Let’s say that 10 people hit the Like button — is that enough? Did the right people hit it? Did somebody who should have hit it, not hit it? Did anybody care enough to call or e-mail or visit you to find out what was wrong, or did they all move on to the chocolate cake thing?
The ultimate result of this particular plea is to make a sad person feel sadder. Like any ultimatum, its unfulfillment speaks volumes, but not necessarily the right words. It is equivalent to the prayer, “Dear God, if you love me, please get me this job (or this guy, or this car, or this exotic truffle).”
So, when you don’t get the job or the guy or the car or the truffle, does this mean that God doesn’t love you? Or does it mean that you’re missing the point?
I have no problem with people posting “I’m sad” on their Facebook wall — without going into gritty details of what is going on in their lives, it sends the message of somebody hurting and reaching out to others for comfort. If I know that you’re sad, then I can call you and talk. If I know that you’ve been ill and haven’t been able to get to the grocery store, then I can drop by some food. If I know that you really blew the diet and ate an entire pound of M&Ms (do you really want 185 people to know this?), then I can — well, I can feel better about myself and that half-pack of Oreos.
It is asking people to hit the Like button, however, that sets the writer up for failure.
I like Facebook — it’s fun to keep up with the minutiae of people’s lives in the midst of a busy world. At the same time, there is the bad side of Facebook and other social media — they deal primarily with minutiae, and virtual farms, and mindless posting and re-posting of someone’s initial thought (“If you think that Chihuahuas have sexy ears, then post this on your wall”). We can spend hours on Facebook skimming the surface of people’s lives without ever having to get — literally — face to face with people themselves.
We are a lonely society, too busy with being busy to have time for one another. In our keening, wailing inner desire to connect with other human beings, we all too easily accept substitutes for the real thing. So we join groups, attend little classes, sit on committees, read books with others in a circle and answer a list of questions from a workbook — all in the effort to forge relationships that wind up being more acquaintanceships than they do friendships.
Facebook can be a tool in our lives to maintain enough contact with similarly busy people that we can eventually connect real time, maybe after we’ve dropped the majority of our groupettes and committees and meetings and life enhancement courses and events.
I’m thinking this thing through. Please Like Me.