I read something the other day that stated that, before Facebook, the world had no outlet for expressing the trivial and insignificant bullshit that just pops into our frame of reference. You know, like your video of the duck being chased by a rabbit around the Christmas tree, or your random thought “Why do so many words have silent L’s? Is it a conspiracy?” , or that great memory of Captain Gorton’s fish sticks, complete with photograph.
I only disagree slightly. Our heads have always been full of insignificant bullshit and there have always been ways to express it. The telephone comes to mind. But today’s social media has spawned a brand new industry: ready made, pre-packaged bullshit that allows one to constantly post to Facebook without having a single original thought. They’re called postagrams and there’s one for every emotion you want to express. You’re exhausted because you just drove all night from Saskatoon? Why bother to express your thoughts when you can just post a cute picture on your timeline?
Animals are featured heavily on Facebook. Some people actually take the time to photograph their own pets, sometimes doing cute things, but most often just curled up comfortably somewhere, rheumy eyes staring dolefully at the camera. Almost all cat photos are downloaded from the internet. Cats don’t do cute things for your amusement and when they do, they don’t usually pose long enough to get a good shot. But, I shit you not, there is now a social media site devoted exclusively to cute cat pix.
Another popular time-suck Facebook trend is posting a portrait of a very famous man, like Socrates or Thomas Jefferson, containing a quote that all but a dimwit could see was bogus. Socrates did not ever say “I may be dumb, but I’m not stupid!” and Jefferson never said “If your parents never had children, chances are you won’t either.”
Albert Einstein’s the go-to guy for bogus quotes on Facebook. Did he really say “if you are sitting on a red hot cylinder, one second seems like an hour but if you are dating a hot girl, one hour seems like a second, that’s relativity”? My hunch is no. In fact, I believe half the shit people attributed to Socrates, Jefferson, or Einstein really came out of the mouths of Donald Trump or Bette Midler.
Does all this insta-content spell the ultimate demise of Facebook as a place for sharing ideas and personal history? Not anytime soon, in my opinion. Aunt Myrtle will still post a photo of her butterball as it comes out of the oven on Thanksgiving, and your daughter’s best friend will still post the selfie of her newest piercing (depending of course on where the piercing is located), and Facebook remains a great bulletin board for social and political causes.
Facebook is really just cyber graffiti. I would only hope that if you’re going to grab the spray paint can, use your imagination and leave the stencil behind.