It is amazing the different uses of social media and the wide variety of information people are willing to share with friends, family, acquaintances and complete strangers. It is something that I have been paying more attention to for the past couple of months as we have gone through the election season, through hurricane Sandy, the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, gun control policy and now the Manti Te’o situation. On top of all these story lines in our country today, people have all sorts of things going on in their personal lives ranging from the wonderful events life brings (weddings, babies, etc.) and the gut punches life tends to deal (break ups, illness, family feuds, etc).
Why do people choose to share what they do? What drives them to comment on sensitive issues with extreme bias? How do they allow themselves to fall in love with perfect strangers? Why do they share personal information know that most people will glance at it for less than a second and never think about it again?
Don’t get me wrong here, we are allowed to share anything that gives us an attention orgasm… for example, posting their poorly written and vaguely humorous blog hoping that people will read, enjoy and possibly like or re-tweet it…?
It is a moment to moment opportunity to express yourself to hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people. It is such an amazing thing when you stop and think about it. People are willing to share their opinions on family members, friends, religion, politics, celebrities, sports, ANYTHING under the mask of Facebook. People make harsh jabs, fall in love with complete strangers they have never met in person and generally open up wounds for everyone to see with no evidence of apprehension or embarrassment.
I would wager that if we stripped all of this away and we were able to put all of our Facebook “friends” in the same room with a, er.. “status stage” at the front of this pretend room with a microphone that the event would be rather boring.
Very few people would have the personality that would grant them the courage to jump on that stage and say what was on their mind about anything they wanted. And those people still wouldn’t be completely honest or share their thoughts on personal issues with hundreds of people that they know, knew, like or love staring at them. Yet, give them a keyboard and a status bar they will bear their souls for anyone that happens to friend or follow them. Why?
People tend to be afraid of public speaking (I know that I am), yet people don’t have any fear when it comes to public posting. Now, not everyone uses social media this way, which is great because we need a balance of people who have a sense of personal boundaries to counter that crazies that are ready to tell the world about every thought that creeps into the crazy grey matter that they call a brain.
This is why social media is such a compelling form of entertainment. There is no other place where you can follow as many story lines in such an efficient matter. Everyday we are exposed to heroes, villains and everything in-between. Let’s take a glance at some of these social media personality types that make up the soap opera that is social media…
Pregnant or New Parents – I figured we would get the easy one out-of-the-way. While this personality type is irritating, they are necessary in the social media soap opera. Some days you like them – they post adorable pictures or have the occasional funny comment or picture that relates to this major step in life. Then, there is the other 90% of the time when you can’t stand them (which is precisely why you keep reading their posts and going to their page, make no mistake).
We get it, you are about to be blessed with a new bundle of joy and you can’t wait for the thing to get out so you can meet it. You are tired because your new-born wakes up in the middle of the night and now you really need a coffee because your sleep cycle is all messed up? I guess you should have paid a little more attention to the 10 “friends” that were posting the exact same status 10 months ago and put serious thought into whether or not you were ready for such a commitment… But then again, I don’t have children so I couldn’t possibly understand what you are going through….
Political Activists – These are sly breed. They will do everything in their power to suck you in to commenting on their posts to help cure their attention boner. The more outrageous the better is their mantra. Whether it is far left or far right they will post about politics the same way die-hard sports fans post about their favorite sports teams. We get it, you don’t want Obama to take your precious assault rifles and stocks of ammunition, or, you still think that it isn’t fair that the 1% have it so much better than you do, or, you think they should just legalize it, mannn.
You may have fallen victim and stepped into their trap engaging in a debate in which other “friends” chime in out of nowhere to either attack or defend you, but admit it… the times that you haven’t participated and you see the controversial post that has 10+ comments fills you with the anticipation and excitement of nonsensical, idiotic, infuriating points that you are about read. There are few things as entertaining as watching someone argue with a “friend” that they went to high school with about abortion or foreign policy. Their ability to google and regurgitate political rhetoric from CNN or FOX is brilliant entertainment.
Depressive Posters, Sympathy Seekers or (as I call them) Eeyores – Why can’t anything ever go right?! Now most of us won’t admit it, but we love these people. The train wreck that is their life not only makes you feel better about your own but gives you an opportunity (if you so choose) to be a psychiatrist for a short period. You provide wisdom that even the best fortune cookie writers can only dream of (i.e, it is always darkest before the dawn; when one door closes, another opens) And there is nothing wrong with doing that every once in a while because it is essential for the entertainment of everyone else and no one is going to be mad that you are trying to be a good “friend”… For example –
Tom Jones is – wondering why things like this always happen to me… 😦
Ugh, for those of us seeking entertainment there is nothing worse. Tom is begging for you to help him… so help! Don’t leave the rest of us wondering what happened to Tom? Another flat tire? Did his dog die (I know he threw up on the new rug last week)? Did he lose his job? We need you as the advice giving “friend” to drag the story out of Tom in the comments section below. Please, please don’t leave us hangin’.
Sometimes we don’t need you… Example – Jane Smith is now single.
We all think, hahahaha, we all knew it wasn’t going to work out Jane.
The Serial Commenter – The person that doesn’t understand your sarcasm, jokes or, possibly, anything at all. The person that can turn a status update that was meant for a particular crowd and so perfectly thought out and funny into a dud that no one will comment on. They like and comment on things with, what seems to be, super human speed. They make you wish that you could block a person from seeing particular posts that you make (without “unfriending” them because you want to read up on their ridiculous day-to-day thoughts and activities). The worst is when the serial commenter also possesses one of the previously mentioned traits and shine this negative light on you with things like – “I bet you voted for OBAMA”, or, (when you check in at a bar) “Ugh, I never get to go out anymore now that I have my baby”, or, (when you check in anywhere) “thanks for the invite…”
The list goes on and on. In the end we, as humans, are passive aggressive attention seekers that want to know that someone is interested in what we are doing and the things we have to say.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I fall into this group. I could easily write these… things in Word and save the ramblings about my childhood, drinking too much and (for whatever reason) all the stories about urinating on myself or my wife for my own pleasure… but where is the fun in that? I post my blog on Facebook/Twitter and desperately hope that people will read them. I am aware that this is pathetic and narcissistic, but I am a part of the soap opera and I enjoy my role in it.
Whether you read this because you will make fun of me the next time I see you (which is always a blast), because you want to talk about how hopelessly pathetic it is with others or because you actually find it entertaining; it doesn’t matter to me. Because I am The Self Involved, Hopeless Aspiring Writer Asshole personality type and you LOVE it.