Perhaps the best part of Facebook is the fact that you can gawk at the apparent traffic accidents of your friends and family's lives as they crash and burn. And, not only that, they essentially televise it for the entertainment of all their connections in some kind of proud display of their total awesomeness . . . so, that's even more heartening to think about.
This only works, of course, if you have an opinion about what people ought to be doing and the choices they ought to be making. So the safest way to approach Facebook is sans opinion, and since I can't do that, the few moments I check in to Facebook, I often end up selecting "hide all posts by X."
I know. I'm such a jerk that I would want to shield myself from the torture of thinking, "Holy crap! What on EARTH are they thinking? WHY WHY WHY, FOR THE LOVE, WHY ARE THEY DOING THAT?"
Also, I'm such a judgmental toad to think that my values, ideas, and expectations are right and not totally unrealistic. These are, after all, just people being people. Right?
Sorry. But I take a different tack on that kind of stuff.
People aren't just people being people. There is good, bad, and evil (as I covered in my recent Charlie Sheen post), and when you sow good, you reap good, and so on. And no, this isn't just "the human condition" as I used to think while still in college. Yes, yes, believe me. I was one of those naive idiots who worshiped the notion that there's really something beautiful about human suffering, existence, and "the condition."
I went to movies at the art cinema in Logan, Utah and thought deep thoughts, spurred by the artistic statements being made by truly creative independent film makers. I'd go for walks late at night and stare at the glow of windows emanating from the houses lining the streets and weep to Wilco's "Sunken Treasure" (because, I mean, that's a great song. And I still think that. But I also think, "Buck up, man!" so, yes, I am probably an insensitive jerk if I can think that about such a gorgeous song) as I pondered my place in the universe*.
So, I've been there. Done that. I want you to know, because it's imperative to understand that I haven't just arrived at this location on my lifelong trajectory without having passed through my own valleys of shadow and whatnot. I've got SOME experience. I've made lots of insane choices and suffered lots of undesirable consequences.
But luckily, most of those choices were made before Facebook existed. So no one had to feel like they were right there with me, watching me being a complete moron. I mean, I'm sure my mom and dad saw some of that and it probably ripped their hearts out, and for that I'm sorry (for real). I wish I had always been such a stellar individual and had my head on straight one hundred percent of the time (or at least, seventy-five percent of the time). Heh heh.
Which is the big problem with Facebook. One of them, anyway. Right now I'm thinking about this one, where I get to log in and witness the final descent before someone's life explodes into burning wreckage. The key is that it's because of their choices, not happenstance. Happenstance is sad, but forgivable. It's not their fault.
But consequences for stupid decision-making . . . that's just frustrating. Irritating (they KNEW better, how could they do THAT?). How hard can it be to not make dumb choices? I find it devastating. Too difficult to watch. And with Facebook, if I don't defriend or cancel my account, I have to deal with it nonstop.
Isn't getting away from the destructive behavior of certain friends or family part of the relief of growing up and moving away from that person? Not that we intentionally run away, but unless we want to surround ourselves with constant pain, something's got to be done.
So hide their updates. Do it. It will set you free.
That's what I tell myself.
And really, all I want is for everyone to not be naive and realize that their choices and actions don't occur in a vacuum. We are all watching each other. We see and feel the suffering of our friends and family. We share their joys and disappointments. And sometimes it's absurdly obvious when someone is sowing manure (while thinking, I suppose, that they're planting corn). They're going to end up with a pile of crap and you know it. How can they not see it too?
*I don't mean to imply that the human condition isn't interesting and sometimes, in a way, beautiful. Because there are moments that are transforming and inspiring, and it's quite nice to see a film or read a book that catalogs this in a breathtaking way and makes you feel like the spirited individual can triumph over whatever obstacles they face. However, the dark side to the "human condition" stuff can be the notorious ripple effect. And Facebook magnifies this problem.