Much has been written and lamented about Facebook. And rightly so, I tell myself, as I slog through a report on a recent, yummy breakfast, excruciating details of a trip or weekend, boasts about junior’s GPA and multitudinous photos of Little League.
But I have to say that there is something especially off-putting about those one-size-fits-all FB greetings. Examples: “Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms I know,” “Wishing everyone a happy new year,” “My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by [fill in disaster]” and “Happy [fill in religious holiday] to all my friends who celebrate.” Those who post these no doubt well-intentioned sentiments aren’t actually directing their sentiments to anyone in particular, but to everyone in general. Everyone on Planet Facebook anyway.
I would add the generalized “thank-you” to these digital pet peeves. I’ve seen pages thanking everyone who liked the page. Now that’s personal!
Welcome to the anti-social media.
The real dangers to my lunch staying down are those treacly posts about how much we love our husband/wife/son/daughter/puppy, typically accompanied by images of flowers and rainbows. Like this one, spread onto a deep red, heart-shaped background, “Share this if you love your son with all your heart.” Now, if I don’t share it — oh, maybe because it’s vapid and meaningless — does that mean I don’t love my son? Or at least not with all my heart? Maybe I’m half-hearted about it. Never mind the fact that my son would be appalled if I did.
For those who have trouble expressing themselves, the “I’m Proud of My Kids” page offers such gems as “I love my kids more than words can describe.” So if you post/share/like it, this makes you what….superparent? the bestest mom on earth? The IPOMK page also provides, “The weekend with the kids is priceless,” which sounds like a joint custody greeting. For St. Patrick’s Day you can post, “I [shamrock] my kids.” I’m not sure what that’s about — did you run them out of Ireland with the snakes? Another classic, “It’s the little moments that make every day amazing,” framed by concentric hearts. I’ll leave for another day my rant on the overuse of the word “amazing.”
Maybe I’m old fashioned, but why does one have to trumpet these illustrated emotions to every outpost in the Facebook universe? OK, you love your kid! Do you want a cookie?
And I’m urged to “like and share.” How about “barf and snicker?” Or shall I just say, “Ick.”
And let’s work on the definition of “share.” If I send along the written equivalent of an emoticon, what is it I’m sharing? The fact that someone found a saccharine way to announce to the world that I love my kids? Sometimes I’m asked to “like” and “share” if I’m against cancer or for mental health. Does my not sharing make me some kind of ghoul? It’s like they’re trying to induce the same guilt you’re supposed to feel when you break a chain letter.
Here are some helpful tips on how not to nauseate your Facebook friends. Posts should pass the Eye Roll Test. Before you “share” something with the world, ask yourself, if I saw this coming from someone else, would my eyes roll up in my head? Soul-search a bit more: Why are you posting this? Do you think if your kid sees this he or she would really, truly, honest-to-God know you care? Are you just bored? Why are you borrowing words from someone else? Is IPOMK’s “Having my kids taught me that the greatest gifts in life do not come from the outside but from within ourselves” better than anything you can come up with?
Not that I’m above connecting with FB pages that others doubtless think ridiculous. I’m friends with such luminaries as Grumpy Cat and Henri, Le Chat Noir. (Detect a pattern here?) But I don’t inflict this stuff on other people, with the exception of fellow feline fanatics.
So, if you love your kids (with all your heart, like life itself, to the ends of the earth), just tell them. And leave me out of it.
— Ann Green
Ann Green is a freelance writer, tutor and self-described “crazy cat lady.” She gives a popular talk, “Religion and Humor: The Historical and the Hysterical,” to community groups in the Boston area.