Friday, October 17, 2014

In Defense of Facebook

It’s very fashionable to be seen as loathing Facebook, even if Facebook is where one goes to express his loathing, and I think even the least rancorous of us would probably describe ourselves as ambivalent at best. 

I, who can usually be relied upon to hate everything and everybody, find myself feeling quite positive about it at the moment. It feels sometimes like a lifeline. I can post just about anything — one of my sparklingly witty observations about life in these United States, or a tongue-in-cheek expression of enthusiasm for the rampantly ludicrous Gov. Palin, or a photograph of myself at four — with confidence that at least a few people will LIKE it. When someone’s amused by or interested in something I’ve said, or just pays attention to me, it causes my brain to release (produce? (I’m no neurologist, but only play one on television)) dopamine, which makes me elated at best and a little less close to a panic attack at worst. At such moments, I have Facebook to thank.

I’ve met only one of my most dependable LIKErs face to face, but have come to think of all of them with great fondness. We share in each other’s small victories, and try to comfort each other when life, in that way it has, suddenly decides it might enjoy a bit of capricious brutality. We have broken no bread together, but have shared laughter and tears. Let no one try to talk me out of cherishing their friendship.

On the other hand, Facebook sometimes makes me feel as though back in my sophomore year of my high school, and hugely unpopular. (No, that’s not accurate.  To have been unpopular, I’d have had to have been noticed by others, who then decided that there was something distasteful about me, and nobody noticed.) I’ll think of something pithy or hilarious to say, and will polish my utterance to a high gloss, and on a good day, it’ll be liked by perhaps 12 people. Elsewhere, someone will post photos of his wife’s large breast implants and 128 people will drool all over it. (Yes, yes. I know. In Today’s America in general and on the Internet in particular tits trump sparkling wit (and everything else!)) 

Nor is it just big tits. Until my envy inspired me to unfriend him, I had as a non-cherished Facebook friend a comedian who would say something like, “I’m almost out of bagels,” and get 61 likes. What was I doing wrong?

Still, even though horrifying numbers of its users want the rest of us to know that they regard Gov. Palin as America’s most inspiring and prescient political leader, or that they're grateful for George W. Bush for "really caring about us," Facebook generally restores my faith in humanity. On my birthday, countless dozens of people congratulate me. Dopamine! Whenever I change my profile photo, a few dozen people express their approval.  When someone posts about some awful misfortune she’s suffered, a great many invariably seem to offer reassurance. And my own most popular post by far has been that in which I spoke of the incomparable beauty of a pair of elderly people dancing behind a salsa band in Farmers Market.

Facebookfolk: the sweetest people on earth!

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