So many people want me to like them, I feel as if I were back in high school or junior high. Thank God I’m not; once was enough.
This time around’s a little different though. Instead of being accosted in the hallowed halls of social education to vote from a limited ballot for Prom Queen or Homecoming King, I am approached at the gas station, or the carpet store, the pizza take-out, the shoe shop, the computer repairman.
“Like us on Facebook!” It was a Gas-n-Go quick stop in a town so small that the back half of the building, with the bathrooms, must have doubled as the community center, and it sold Thai food on the side. Considering that the main thing I associate with gas stations are reader boards with ever increasing prices, what on earth is there about this place that I could possibly like? And what does it post?
“Economy looking up? So are gas prices!”
“No job? That’s okay; you’ll drive less!”
“Deep fried gizzards tossed with Pad Thai noodles! Hot cocoa and a cookie on the side!!”
Everybody these days has a Facebook page, and while, as a writer and a business person I understand this (by the way, Like Middle Aged Plague on Facebook! And Like Steve Henderson Fine Art, too!), I simply don’t comprehend what the cement company has to say that is so important that I need to see them on my phone, regularly.
Just for fun, I visited the page of my favorite hamburger joint which posted . . . very little. It serves hamburgers, which I already knew, and somebody raved about a peanut butter peppermint shake.
On a roll with cynicism, I checked out my favorite grocery, which has been urging me to Like them for years (and I have, in real life), only to find that, amazingly, their Facebook page is fun, quirky, entertaining, and actually worth reading, probably because
1) they schedule cool events at this place and
2) they designate someone to keep the page up to date and
3) if they sell peanut butter peppermint shakes, they’re very quiet about it.
Okay, so I was wrong — like that doesn’t happen on a regular basis — and some of these businesses are truly worth following, but that still doesn’t mean I’ll be Liking the Gas-n-Go shop anytime soon.
Nor do I plan to follow any government pages — yes, there’s my university alma mater, whose Facebook page is more dull than their quarterly magazine, truly a feat of administrative panache — but the twice yearly mandatory trip to the county assessor’s office to pay state rent on land we bought and theoretically own outright is enough for me. I really don’t Like these people, even if they do put out a bowl of candy.
The Department of Homeland Security (more than 42,000 likes, surprisingly), the Transportation Security Administration (when I looked, they were in the Under-10 Club), the myriad of federal, state, and municipal regulatory agencies — while I am obligated to tolerate these people, it is highly unLikely that I will Like or Follow them.
And this is good. For the moment, Facebook, and its sibling social media sites, are filled with ordinary individual people and private businesses, a hodgepodge of grassroots humanity that is relatively uncontrolled and unregulated — although not necessarily unmonitored, untracked, and unwatched — and while diesel fuel and red curry do not go together in my mind, I’m glad that, for awhile at least, there is some venue where the market place and people’s thoughts run relatively free.
I laughed at myself while I clicked “like” on your post. 🙂 But it was an honest “like”.
I found your post really insightful and spot on on some of these “social media issues”. 🙂 Thanks!
Thank you for the Like — I try to be so much more than a Gas-n-Go that sells Thai food!
I saw a hot dog stand the other day with a sign that said “Like us on Facebook.” I don’t even like them in real life. On second thought, maybe their virtual dogs taste better than the real thing.
I’m with you — so much better on the screen than on my (paper) plate!
Very funny. Very true. I like you however I need to get to the computer & log on to FB etc in order to do my official liking…so don’t hold your breath….but I’ll try…because I DO like you & your writing. I’m with you on my disposition towards the quasi-Indian gas station!
Melissa — thank you. Should we ever meet some day and wish to go out to lunch, I know an incredible real Thai food restaurant which is right across from a gas station, but not, fortunately, located within one.
I’ll make FB Liking really easy: Middle Aged Plague — http://www.facebook.com/MiddleAgedPlague
Steve Henderson Fine Art — http://www.facebook.com/SteveHendersonFineArt?v=wall
What I Like immensely is Steve’s painting of the Christmas? Snow showing definite sunset pinks and heavenly deep winter blues on the ground and shivering trees. Will you be putting up some data about that one? I love it love it love it. Brrrrr. And Huzzah to Steve!
And I am one of the everyone that is no longer on Facebook. It made me very uncomfortable, as if there were little spies looking at my grandchildren and other such stuff. I got off! I miss the friends, but I can still email them. 🙂
Susan: You and Steve would enjoy an afternoon chat together about snow and its myriad colors and reflections and aspects and emotions — all in something that someone else would call “white.” Late Spring Snowpack is in the home of a collector who purchased it from the Western Art Association Fine Art Auction, and he was kind enough to call us and tell Steve how much he enjoys looking at the work, and especially that snow.
I use FB primarily for Steve Henderson Fine Art (http://www.facebook.com/SteveHendersonFineArt) and Middle Aged Plague (http://www.facebook.com/MiddleAgedPlague) — oh gosh, there are those links again — and do try to keep things under control, but as you say, it’s difficult. I post few if any personal photos, limiting myself to paintings. Every so often I’ll wander through FB and look at various postings, commenting here and there, but I find knitting far more relaxing!
Carolyn, I Like you a lot, but no FaceBook for me! I would rather be reading blogs or knitting or walking or even pulling weeds. FB feels 1/4″ deep and 4 miles wide, so I’ll stick to friendships with more in depth communications. I have wondered about those businesses that used to encourage you to visit their websites. They think I have time to sit around and look up Cheerios or M&Ms online?? Just made me scratch my head with puzzlement . . . it’s hard enough to keep up with real people!
I am getting perilously close to your way of thinking. While I think FB is great for receiving notifications of things going on at places I’m interested in, or, on rare occasions, hearing interesting news from people I know that has nothing to do with funny sayings and threats to re-post, I usually find that I find most of my FB time better off knitting.
I made a vow not to use the like button except for fan pages, and then only when I really like it or find it will be beneficial to me. So far I am keeping to my promise. Somehow, the statisticians have convinced us enough “likes” signify quality (barf). I “liked” the Mr. Clean page because it is creative.
I fear the day when large coporations parade around dressed as nice people offering us great advice or deals. Oh wait, the day is already here on FB.
My wife was telling me she had read about how FB is helping to destroy our ability to converse, reason and debate. I think it is quite true, and sad. Mr. Zuckerberg achieved what no one would have guessed, he’s found a really efficient way to make everyone more self-centered. At least I can get daily updates on that.
(I’m not really that cynical, but it might make for a good post or tweet)
Very and sadly true, Tom. Cabinart described FB as four miles long and a quarter inch deep, and that pretty much encapsulates it. I can’t help but wonder, if we continue to dummy ourselves down mentally the way we attack our bodies with junk food, what will our minds look like?