In discussing the bombings at the Boston Marathon, a friend of long standing made an interesting point. I’m paraphrasing, but she said, “I often say ‘I hate people’. I don’t always mean it. Sometimes I say it to be funny, or I say it about someone I disagree with. But when I see people do good things, it gives me hope.”
I’ve been thinking about this all day. It’s one of the main reasons I’ve largely disengaged from Facebook. The guiding principle of Facebook seems to be, “Say mean things to be funny, or to gain the approval of like-minded friends.” Maybe I read more into things than is really there. I’ve made the comment before that communicating via social media or IMs is a lot like having Asperger’s. There’s a ton of social clues that can’t be conveyed with the written word. Emoticons are a poor substitute for facial expressions, tone of voice, body posture, etc. I once had an online argument with a girl I was seeing because she typed the wrong emoticon, accidentally conveying anger instead of amusement. Not my finest hour.
Nowadays, I use a different analogy for Facebook. I liken it to an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where Buffy is accidentally given telepathy, and can hear the dark thoughts of her friends, the ones no one ever speaks out loud. The difference is that people now trumpet their dark thoughts to the world, expecting (and often receiving) approval for things they should be ashamed of. Continue reading