Thursday, January 1, 2015

The six impossible filters Facebook should have

Back in 2007 Facebook was something I did not initially want to join. It felt as if I was going to jump in a blue pool of cold water. However, I pushed myself to jump into that pool and the water felt strangely enough (or perhaps weirdly enough) ……. warm. 

When you’re in cold water, you have to swim to keep your body temperature at a degree that feels comfortable. When you stop, the water will give you chills. I was active on Facebook. I fit right in and never felt cold till I had to stop swimming, not by choice. The Facebook pool got crowded and people started doing what seemed to be anything but swimming. I felt I had to get out. after I closed my account with the so called social network pool, I couldn’t help but wonder if the existence of a lifeguard would have limited certain narcistic movements in that pool. The only current filter in that pool is “you cannot swim in the nude”. I liked being in the pool initially, why do I despise it so much now? I came up with six filters that should have been applied to that network which would have theoretically kept it decent. I know those filters are impossible to apply to a pool crowded with billions of people, so I thought of the thought-police of Orwell’s 1984. That could have been the best filter that would have addressed the thoughtless posts before they get a chance to become posts and expose unwanted dirty laundry.
Well, before I list those filters, I would like to apologize in advance to those who might feel that I am criticizing their swimming movements in the Facebook pool because I really don't want to be misunderstood; of course I am criticizing and I'm not going to deny it, but I would like to acknowledge that I myself was guilty of some.

Once upon a time in 2010, a relative of mine visited from Venezuela for a few days and took a nice long walk with me down Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica. She looked around and said that she felt familiar with the neighborhood because of my Facebook pictures. Then She defensively added “Not that I’m ever on Facebook, but when I log on, I look at pictures of people I care for”. She added that Facebook repulses her because what people do, eat, where they go, how they feel, what they quote, write, think, are things no one cares about. She sounded genuinely annoyed.

Two years later, that same friend started facebooking. She started checking into every single airport her company sent her to. She started criticizing the airports when they’re located in countries or cities she did not care for. Then she started adding the food pictures of restaurant she visited. Then her workout routine, then the calories she burned, then pretty much every moment of her life, no matter how un-special they were, and let me tell you, they truly were.

I silently observed for a while, then wrote her an email and asked her straight out about her change of heart. Her answer was “Everybody is doing it, why should I be excluded?” And so, she went with the flow of Facebook instead of looking at it from outside and wondering why do people do what they do since according to her “No one cares!”

I am sure that my Canadian friend (if of course after reading this blog is still going to be a friend) rings a bell of someone you yourself know, who could be opinionated, sophisticated, or working hard on compensating something they do not have. But what it all boils down to is the need of attention. Hey, I mentioned at the beginning of this blog that I am just as guilty. Attention is not necessarily bad if it is recruited for the right reasons, when it is not necessarily and directly sought after. Attention is earned when it is due to a certain work of art, a humane thought, behavior, reaction, a talent, a skill, something hilariously funny and witty, inspirational quote, and other things that might add value to your knowledge, taste, soul, spirit, and healthy existence. However, once that attention becomes a matter of “Look at me, I rock” with nothing to back up that claim, then vanity takes over. Well, we’re not in the business of limiting anyone’s freedom, and since we’re talking about freedom, I’m exercising mine in listing the six filters that I wish were possible at all for Facebook to have in its so-called social media:

1) Limit the number of pictures, as my Venezuelian relative put it, “no one cares!”
Remember the time when we used to take pictures for the sake of preserving memories? Remember how limited the audience to your photo album was? On special occasions you would take out those photo albums and go over the pictures mostly on your own, maybe with your family, and sometimes when relatives visited. The photos were special, and you took them because you wanted to keep special moments that you cherish alive. Those photos, they had special people going through special times you wanted to capture. Today, the photos you see on Facebook could indeed be a reflection of special moments with or without special people, but the motivation to take photos have definitely changed. We take photos for people to see, not for us to keep. We take photos to show off where we are, what we’re eating, how we too do this and that (and no, you're not better than me), and it’s for the world to see, not for us to revisit. The real motivation have changed. The more you have, the less special they feel. And what’s up with that hand on your hip which sticks out every time someone takes your picture for you? Is that a requirement now? As if the "Hips don't lie" was not annoying enough in every teenager's picture (with or without their mothers competing to look like sisters), here comes the selfies. Oh lord have mercy, that is a disease in itself. Selfies are spreading like cancer. One might argue that they are not that different from asking someone else to take our pictures for us. Oh but the are. You wouldn’t do the things you do in your selfies when there is a stranger behind the camera taking your picture for you. You wouldn’t try those sexy face expressions with your lips puckered when you ask your father to take your picture.

You wouldn’t dress the way you do (or not even dress at all) when you ask your friend to take your picture. Selfies have no shame. You wanna push back? By all means, ask yourself how many of them make it on Facebook, and ask yourself why. Selfies indeed are shameless and you don’t need someone to prove it, just look in your phone camera honey, see! I rest my case.

2) Delete the stolen posts from people who re-post them and claim they’re theirs
“They’re theirs”? Wouldn’t that be a challenge in itself to figure out? So which one of those two words is nominative and which one is accusative. Alright, we get jealous from time to time, I mean everyone is writing something cool, funny, inspirational, it’s the trend. So why don’t you give it a shot too? Suddenly everyone on Facebook is a philosopher, a deep thinker, and an opinionated writer. Yes, even that one who always said to you in the past, I don’t know what I want, whatever you want is cool with me. Hey hey, I don’t want to be in the audience, I want to be on stage, performing. And if I don’t have any moves, I’ll steal some and say “look at me, I invented this, ain’t I cool?” Let’s see how many likes I’m gonna get, humm, not too shabby for a start. I’ll copy and paste some more. Heck, I’ll start my own sentences, I’ll just copy the style of others. Suddenly the stage is too crowded and there is no audience left. Well, it’s not your fault, everyone is doing it, go with the flow, even when you have nothing to offer.
They’re no better than you, wait! they're no better or their no better? Damn you auto correct, you should know better.

Here’s a thought: If you’ve got something to say, then go ahead and say it. But if you don’t, don’t make a fool of yourself, it’s not worth it. Words are recycled, re-invented, re-arranged, and re-written. But unless they have a thought behind them, they have no value. 

3) Unsubscribe the Facebookers who constantly play the victims 

Who knows a Debbie downer who keeps on posting her feelings in a desperate search of  more attention? I think I know one or two. Nah, I know plenty. Poor me? It seems that my friend who lost his father a few years back did not get enough condolences on Facebook the first time around when he changed his profile picture to a one solid black picture leaving his friends wondering in suspense who did he lose. Yes, even grieving his late father had to be in style and had to have some kind of thrill to it. To honor the memory of his father, he changed his profile picture to his father’s a year later. Then six months after that he posted on his Facebook page “Dad, I miss you” waiting patiently for his father to comment back, but his father didn't (how rude!). Then six months later, it was time to honor the second anniversary of his dad’s departure, then he wanted to visit his father’s cemetery, no wait, that takes actual getting up and out of the house, my bad, he wanted to visit his father’s birthday so he posted on his Facebook page “Dad, how I miss thee, this would have been your 82nd birthday”. He did not stop at any opportunity to bring his father’s memory to honor his father of course, not to collect likes and the support of “Hang in there dude, we love you (and we mean it, as long as we don't have to love you in person)” from his audience, I meant from his friends who are virtually there for him when he’s feeling down. So the rhetorical question here is, what happened to grieving in private? What happened to actually leaving our monitor addiction and stepping out to the real world to be with friends who care, who listen, who are there for us when we’re down? How fulfilling those “like”s and those comments that take over a physical shoulder to lean on if we were really down and feeling blue? What happened to the touch of hand from a real friend who is there for us in person versus the countless meaningless hallmark quotes when we speak our negativity on our “What’s on your mind?” As my wise Canadian friend put it ... "Who cares? No really, who gives a damn?".

4) Eliminate the show off business, it’s not a show business!

Not too long ago, a single friend of mine told me “I cannot believe I’m still single when that ugly dude keeps on posting pictures of his hot girlfriend online. I hate it, I hate it hate it hate, call me jealous, I don’t care”. I said to him “Patience my friend, it’s not a competition, it’s a matter of luck and chemistry, your turn will arrive”. Oh and it did. A little late, but it certainly did and he got some catching up to do (yikes). Of course the relationship statue changed from “Miserably single” to “Happily ever after”. The show off started with a bang with every bouquet of flowers he bought her, or she bought him, with every gift, every dress, even pictures of text messages, it was all a public business with messages like “I know, I know, I know I’m lucky”. The only missing posts were how they made love, the kinky positions, the sex toys, the lingerie, the BDSM erotic practices they might have or have not practice. Here’s a thought “didn’t your so-called ugly friend’s posts bother you?” He was showing off his hot girlfriend, do you remember how it made you feel back then when you were single? What are you doing? No seriously, what is wrong with you repeating what he did when you know how bitter it made you feel? (Hey, everyone is doing it, why shouldn't you? Go with the flow) Oh and you don’t have to tell us how she wants you to be a member of equinox and start Pilates instead of the monkey business you used to do, because we can tell from your “Check-in”s tagging her and the brandname valuable lifestyle she’s added to your down to earth life that you suddenly no longer remember!!!

5) Disable communication between Facebookers and Facebookies if they’re close to each other 

So we know how much you love your mother, your daughter, your grandma, your dogs and cats too. I mean you’ve been telling us for years how much you do. The question is, how hard is it to tell them when they’re sitting next to you on the couch posting how much they love you back on their laptops! Do you guys talk? Do you think your love story is The Notebook? And if it were, do you remember that the actors actually talked to each other in the movie versus communicating on Facebook? Oh Lord, that’s a mistake on my end, there was no Facebook when The Notebook came out so that’s not your fault, you wouldn’t know any better. So here’s a tip: If the person is sitting next to you, tell them how much you love them in person and spare us your feelings for a change. I get it when they’re thousand miles away but seriously, they’re next room. The real question you have to ask yourself is: Are your posts on your friend’s, lover’s, father’s, cousin’s, neighbor’s walls about them or about you? Are you trying to give them the attention or the credit, or are you trying to get the credit of what a good boyfriend, girlfriend, daughter, husband, wife, pet owner (or pet, one day it'll be possible) you are? If it is about them, pick up the phone and call them, pay them a visit, go all the way to the next bedroom and knock on their door. But no, that would not bring YOU the attention or get YOU the credit. Post it on Facebook and the world will know how lucky that person is to have YOU in their life because it is YOU who is drawing attention to them.

6) Detect Crazy regardless how subjective or objective, then delete it please. Thank you very much!

Pet lovers, moderation is a key to sanity. Your pet gets sick while there are wars in certain Middle Eastern countries, poverty that has been killing children in certain African and Asian countries, hurricanes and earthquakes, and other natural disasters that are killing and making millions of people homeless, not to mention missing airplanes, new diseases (besides Facebook of course) and and and ... and we get it, it’s not your fault that the world is going through the disasters it is going through. So your pet gets sick and you feel compelled to spread the news on Facebook. Okay, we send our positive energy, our prayers being the good Facebook friends we are to you, we wish your pet a quick recovery. Then you give us day two of your pet’s disease with pictures and a little bit of disturbing details that you prefer NOT to keep to yourself. We sympathize and send more positive energy and prayers your way. Then day three details, then day four, then you check in at an expensive pet hospital, then complain how much it cost you, but anything for your dear pet, then the test results. Then you talk about a possible operation that you were not psychologically ready for (Why! Would have been prepared for an operation under different circumstances? Do tell, I mean share) We ask you to hang in there on your countless posts. The operation is successful and your pet is back home, we think for a second that the pet chapter is finally over. But no it is not. You actually take a video of your pet, with your voice pretending to be it’s your pet’s voice, thanking all of your facebookers for the positive energy and prayers! Are you for real? So when are you going to open a Facebook account for your pet? Because we were able to recognize that it was your voice, oh wait, you’re the perfect mother for that helpless pet and so you felt compelled to be its agent. Why not impersonate the pet? Honey, couldn’t you have thanked your audience instead of that cutsie video with your voice over? Lord have mercy!!! Crazy much?

So here’s the deal, if you’re 18, we get it. You grew up knowing Facebook to be around. However, if you’re in your thirties or forties, or even fifties, imagine your life without Facebook (OMG ... Nooo) I’m sure you have some recollection of what life was like before. You live for Facebook, you go places, you workout, you carry certain handbags, eat at certain restaurants, express certain emotions to show off on Facebook. When was the last time you did something for you, not for Facebook? How many real friends are there for you on Facebook? Why does it bother you when they send you their sincere wishes on your birthday via email, text, even a phone call, and not a flashy post on your wall over Facebook? Think, think how simple life was when you did not feel that you are a celebrity and the world is revolving around your endless pictures and posts. Facebook is the platform for people to feel like celebrities for a few minutes, but pursuit of those few minutes is a lifetime addiction.

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