Needless to say, my outburst was not warmly received.
I was called a curmudgeon, a crank, and, worst of all, old. Sorry, friends, but it’s nearly six years later and not only am I sticking by my declaration, I’ve now categorized some of the Facebook personality types that make me the crankiest of all. Let’s run through them, starting off with the one that initially evoked the social media monster in me.
The Food Fetishist
Perhaps the laziest and most maddening of Facebook posters, the Food Fetishist seems to think he can make you salivate with envy simply by writing down the (likely 100 percent organic) ingredients that are currently commingled on his plate. Two days ago, one such offender wrote this crazy-making non-sentence: “Gnocchi with wild mushrooms, marjoram, and parmesan. Spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette.” That was it—no explanation of whether he made it himself and how, or whether he ordered it at a certain restaurant people might be interested in trying, or even whether it was mind-bogglingly delicious. He didn’t even take the time to snap a photo of the stupid meal (a beautiful Instagram would have made the whole sorry post go down a lot easier). This kind of status update makes me think, here’s someone who’s eating alone, bored, and either wants the rest of us to be bored too or is just trying to make his lonely lunch seem much more self-satisfying than it actually is.
The RIP Rapid-Responder
Whenever someone famous dies, these Facebook types make it their mission to be first in expressing their grief. That’s all well and good, but the thing is, boilerplate comments like “RIP Robin Williams—the day the laughter died” don’t really honor a person’s legacy. Rather than rushing to join the Internet-wide crowd of mourners with some well-intentioned but half-hearted post, these folks should gather their thoughts and then share specific memories (favorite scenes, movies, personal anecdotes) of how the dearly departed genuinely touched their lives.
Everyone’s Facebook feed has at least a few of these types lurking about. They’re the ones who like to throw aside the conventional rules of polite social discourse by taking blustery stances on hot-button issues like race relations, politics, religion, etc. (I’m thinking about you, sir—the guy I can’t quite remember how I know—who has conspiracy theories on everything from global warming to the Federal Reserve Board to Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign.) Everyone’s entitled to their opinions, of course, and the “block” feature is always an option with these folks, but it’s the height of narcissism to try to turn any friendly gathering place into a forum for your own personal guns-blazing, fact-free rhetoric.
The Hardcore Hobbyist
We get it, you really love to work out, or knit, or garden, or do woodworking, but we don’t really need to be made privy to every nanosecond of your pastime. I have one former high school classmate who provides daily updates of the number of miles he runs. Can you imagine anything more boring? Facebook should definitely be a place where people can proudly tout their accomplishments, but the Hardcore Hobbyists do themselves a disservice by inundating us with so many peeks at their obsessions. After being benumbed by all the minuscule details, by the time they’ve actually completed the marathon, or crocheted that sweater, or built that canoe, I’ve already tuned out.
The Polished Perfectionist
I love to be self-deprecating in my Facebook updates; it’s my meager attempt to counterbalance all those seemingly ideal lives being documented out there. I posted about craving anti-anxiety medicine during Christmas. I took a photo of a seemingly alien life-form fungus that was invading my lawn. I relayed how I ruined a potentially pleasant walk on the beach with my dog by accidentally conking him on the head with a big piece of driftwood I was hoping he would fetch.
No one’s life is consistently idyllic, so unless you show me a few of the flaws along the way, I’m going to take all of your glowing updates with more than a few megabytes of salt.