The Horror of Facebook

horror of facebook


I have been spending more and more time on Facebook, and learning how it substitutes for actually living your life.

People who hang out there are losers, like me, or else they’d be doing something out in the world. They wouldn’t need to share every thought or meal or wisecrack with a bunch of imaginary friends.

I noticed this a few weeks ago when I spent hours chatting with a complete stranger, based on a shared taste in art and books. I tried to ignore his increasing references to asses. He liked big asses. Which was fine with me, up to a point. After a while, apropos of something, I told him about Max.

He expressed dismay and then excitedly started a list of other people with dead children. He had an impressive fluency here, even throwing in Paul Newman.

I said goodbye and blocked him. But it was my own fault for buying into the imaginary friend illusion propagated by Facebook and all “social media” I guess.

Still, I enjoyed looking at the pictures people posted and I often laughed out loud at conversations with my new imaginary friends. One of them even sent me a package of vintage gloves! She is really smart and miserable: a good description of many of my real life friends, too.

I also enjoy jumping into debates, usually without much consequence.

Tonight, I was upset when one Facebook person I really like expressed his despair over a friend’s death. Lots of people commented on his ‘status’, some offering words of condolence. Others wanted to point out that they had experienced things just as bad or worse. I could see it turning into a competition. I struggled to keep my opinions to myself, even when someone posted a depressing Leonard Cohen song in this thread, as if Leonard Cohen is a good antidote to despair.

Then, someone posted a video of the song “People Who Died” by Jim Carroll. If you don’t know it, it’s a litany of the writer’s dead friends.

I stupidly commented, “I don’t think this is useful, with all due respect.”

This was greeted with righteous fury that devolved into a whole back and forth where I politely apologized but the woman got madder and madder. Her friends jumped in to call me names. One of them said “People are fucking unbelievable!” and a million people liked his comment…including the original “friend” I was defending.

Ooooooooooh, right? When a gang of imaginary people go off  on you, it’s a singular experience like no other. You can smell the feeding frenzy, which takes on a life of its own. It has nothing to do with anything you actually said or did. It’s just people feeling exhilarated by getting to gang up on someone.

I have already payed my dues with malicious strangers. But thank god something happened to steer me away from the tragic black hole that is Facebook.

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24 Responses to The Horror of Facebook

  1. sharnek says:

    I deleted my FB account, it was like coming of a drug. I’d read my husbands FB timeline to get my fix, I’ve stopped this too.

  2. annemarie says:

    Jesus, this is awful. I am sorry. I don’t have a facebook account precisely because I am, as a wise woman once told me, “reactive,” and therefore nearly always suffer remorse/mortification after I post comments. I do it less and less, because it’s such a waste of my limited time, and it brings out the worst in me– I find myself checking to see if the person whose blog it is thinks what I said is funny or interesting or smart. Why do I need a person who I don’t know and doesn’t know me to validate me (even though it’s just some rubbish comment I wrote and not actually me)? I’ve had days ruined when I’ve inadvertently upset a blogger, and I’ve had days made when a blogger has reached out and expressed appreciation.

    Some people are just too sensitive, paranoid and insecure to be “good at” this new way of communication. Btw, you were the one who scolded me for being too reactive, and I thank you for that. Lesson learned.

  3. Erica says:

    I have a love hate relationship with FB. I have friends who live in different countries who are truly my friends. Through FB I can see pictures of their growing families and travels, and in that way still feel connected to them until I can see them in person. Same with my family, with everyone scattered I can see what my cousins are up to.

    Its scary, I don’t think a lot of people understand that FB is not real life. What you say here clearly illustrates that. I have a friend who always falls in to the trap of comparing her life to what appears to be the “perfect lives of her FB friends.” And every time I have to explain to her FB is just pretty pictures, it does not show you what is really going on, and for you to think everything is picture perfect in their lives shows you aren’t to “Friendly” with them in the first place.


  4. andrea says:

    I am your age, and I do not understand why people need to overshare everything. I think people don’t need to know every little thing about everybody. The only reason I joined facebook was to spy on my daughter, but she unfriended me. After that, I used it to post long lost family pictures for my cousins who I haven’t seen in awhile. But my profile is private and that’s how I will keep it. I hardly ever look at it. It’s also a huge time waster. Don’t people have better things to do? (not meant as an indictment of you : ) )

  5. Kellie says:

    so much latent aggression people have these days. Just waiting for an opportunity to go off on someone they perceive as “wrong”. I think they wait for things like this to happen, and then have joy at the argument.
    And I do feel like it is people who have no real life.
    I have days of lots of FB posting and reading, and then days of nothing.
    Then I wonder if I am missing something.
    And realize if it was really something, and really my friend, they would have texted or emailed or CALLED me to let me know.
    My deep thought of today was that it is dark so early now, and I am unhappy about it.
    Someone helpfully told me it was fall, and what do I expect???
    Fuck you-I am unhappy about dark. That’s the whole thought. Not logic, not seasonal unawareness.
    Then I realized who I was dealing with.

  6. Brittany says:

    I had to delete my Facebook page once and for all about two years ago. I was comparing my life to those of other people and I would feel less and less inadequate. Facebook is like phony conversation you have with someone you haven’t seen in awhile: it’s edited and only shows half truth. Or, at the other end of the spectrum, it’s overshare and just word vomit. Also, I would regularly check an ex-boyfriend’s page, which made it more difficult for me to move on.
    I figure that like when the tree falls when no one is around to hear it; if something happens, but it isn’t posted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., then it didn’t happen. I prefer not to happen and to just live a quiet life.

    This is funny: “The only reason I joined facebook was to spy on my daughter, but she unfriended me.” -andrea

    This is also funny, and true: “I don’t think this is useful, with all due respect.”

  7. Sister Wolf says:

    Erica – I have never envied the life of any Facebook person. THey just seem like people who enjoy eating and have nice pets. But I did misconstrue Facebook people as ‘harmless.’

    annemarie – You of all people, smarter and prettier than almost anyone, you have no business feeling so needy and insecure, damn you!

    andrea – I wish I could spy on your daughter for you.

    Kellie – I hear you. Fall and Idiots, I’m not happy about either of them. x0

    Brittany – YES! I’ve been thinking the same thing lately, That all experience must be documented and broadcast in order to have value. The next generation will be unable to experience their own lives unless it is mediated by twitter, facebook or instagram.

  8. alittlelux says:

    i only have a facebook so i can stalk your every move.

    just kidding.


  9. David Duff says:

    Well, let that be a lesson to you! Just stick to your blog where all your ‘real’ friends are, er, I am real, aren’t I?

    Oh, no, I’m a figment of your imagination?

    Say it ain’t so!

  10. Suspended says:

    I’ve never had a Facebook account and I can’t see a time when I will.

    It was bad enough when one of my friends joined Friends Reunited and had a slew of idiot women asking if he still knew me. I understand the positives of these sites, finding old friends you genuinely miss or old family members etc. but I have no desire to linger in the past or in others fake futures. It’s too unhealthy. I strive not to grow my fishwife bone.

    I’d rather spend my time watching an episode of Rita, loving this show (I’ve just read that it’s being remade for America with Anna Gunn playing Rita…noooooooo!)

  11. Dj says:

    I have a Facebook page I hardly update or look at, I know the people on there, so it’s not a bunch of strangers sending pictures of greasy cheeseburgers or their vacation with the family at Disneyland. Some of it is fun, but the rest of it seems so “look at me (us) we’re having FUN! I hate living in the past, relationship baggage, memories, I allow only very specific sentimentality into my ,life. I think Americans have been so infantasized that EVERY little thing is “special” and needs to be “shared”. I am one of those people who won’t even share what I’m eating with the rest of a group ( a disgusting ritual) much less the minutiae of my life. I like being private, half the time I look at these dispatches I don’t know anyone mentioned and couldn’t care less, being older and grouchier helps. A tramadol now and then does too…fb is for children

  12. Bessie the Cow says:

    Facebook sucks mostly. The only good things are some very limited connections with first, second, and third cousins who probably all think I’m a kook anywho, and some art, architecture, non-mass media news, ceramic, sculpture, animal rights, vegan, little house, spiral staircase, fractal, Brian Cox and Neil deGrasse Tyson sites. Other than that it’s a waste of time, it changes your brain for the worse, and may cause addiction. I don’t know though, did facebook have anything to do with coordinating any revolutions, riots, overthrows of despots and dictators? Like what’s the point if you can’t overthrow a despot? Shit gotta go, I need to see how likes my reposting of someone else’s reposting of some copyrighted artwork…

  13. I agree with DJ, Facebook is for children, although they are the demographic group to suffer more harm from it than anyone else.
    I’m 41 and most of my contemporaries are on Facebook – way too much. When they find out I don’t have an account they look at me strangely, like they’re wondering if I really exist or not? It’s strange, it’s unnatural, I don’t like it one little bit.

  14. Jaimi says:

    Ugh, I had an experience like that with an online community I was part of for a few years. It involved some ridiculous thing with a member’s full name being leaked, and because I was facebook friends with her outside of the community and hadn’t been posting as much because my real life got busy, people assumed it was me! Absolute dogpile clusterfuck of weird hate and threats… I haven’t put myself out like that online again.

    I still have facebook friends who I only know online from my blogging days (10 years ago!) but I no longer accept requests from people I don’t know in person.

    Also I have to say that I utterly loathe how many websites require a facebook account to comment.

  15. D.R. says:

    Risk and rewards to being on FB….risks far greater. The greatest risk is being obliged to “friend” certain relatives (think In-laws)…..major eye-roll here.

  16. D.R. says:

    BTW, major reward is being able to access staff in my girls’ group homes. Since young people don’t usually use privacy features on FB, I’m able to find out anything objectionable on their FB sites and keep an eye on them if there is. I’m a fierce advocate for my girls.

  17. deb* says:

    Sister Wolf – how I love your blog! I ditched FB last year after a brief romance with it. It was way too stressful for me. All this liking and disliking and then people liking and disliking your liking and disliking -aaaaargh. And then there are people from the past who should have stayed in the past. All to awful.

    I didn’t understand the protocol of friending/not friending. I live in a small town and found I had people fronting me at the local shop asking why I hadn’t friended them. Surely not friending meant they weren’t actually friends???? I found myself lying to save face – Awkward to say the least.

    I am facebook free and loving it and it looks as tho there are more and more enjoying that status.

  18. rose says:

    This reminded me of a Ben Elton book “Blind Faith” about a future where every part of life has to be shared. Sometimes is rather too close to reality.
    I haven’t done face book as I seem to be able to waste enough time looking at blogs and Pinterest. Do those people really know what they are getting angry about, or are they just jumping on the angry, negative band wagon? people can be a bit odd can’t they?

  19. Jill says:

    Facebook isn’t all that bad. I joined a Facebook group of young moms and we talked every day and got to know each other really well. One woman got a very rare form of cancer and died about about after her diagnosis. Four of us flew across the country to meet at another friend’s house in the same state as our friend who died. We planted a willow tree in her memory and we her children, dad and sister.

  20. Jill says:

    *about a month after her diagnosis

  21. Haydee says:

    This is just one of the many reasons I don’t like Facebook. It brings out the worse in people or the side of people we don’t see when we’re face to face with them.

    Most people mindlessly post things and mindlessly like things posted. They mindlessly defend posts and jump into conclusion without knowing the whole story. Just because. Most only really like and share things that they know will be good for their online profile – for this persona they like to be known for online.

    There are also those so-called friends who add you for the sake of connection. And when you send them a message, Facebook now tells you the message was ‘seen’ but it was obviously ignored. It can’t be because they’re busy because they’re checking in places and posting photos and ‘owning’ quotes (made/written by others).

    I’m still on Facebook because unfortunately, it is the only way I can stay connected with relatives and old friends nowadays.

  22. Odile Lee says:

    I met my lifelong love of all time best friend who taught me how to beat self pity on FB.
    My mum also stalks me there. And guilt trips me.
    To me, its just a place to message people.
    People online find me just as odd, and ADHD weirded out, as real people I found. Sometimes I found that it was fun, other times I thought- wh the fuck are these people?But I was isolated, and lonely.
    So I went back to books. And making clothes for my imaginary lives.
    I like that better.
    Its kinda become a RULE, FB, which shows me that its time to say…whatever. x

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