Facebook is one the best social networking sites available, and a testimony to its popularity is that in a couple of years from now the number of users will reach one billion, one-seventh of the world’s population. It is a wonderful medium on which family and friends can stay connected and share information and photos; it has been credited with facilitating the revolutions in the Arab world.
However, there may be a downside. Adults who update their status on Facebook are free to post whatever they like – there are few rules – and we frequently read postings about travel plans, meals being cooked, housecleaning being done, the weather, and rural lifestyle, just to name a few.
A lot of this is pretty trivial information. Does anyone care that you’ve done your second load of laundry for the morning? Who wants to know that you’re getting ready to go to the dance? To many Facebook users this type of information is totally mundane, and it is common to hear others who are “friends” of some of those we will call Trivia Writers make belittling remarks about what is written. However, the Trivia Writer has a right to post it.
So what invites ridicule? The reasons aren’t as numerous as the types of status updates, but several come to mind. First of all, the Trivia Writer has put thoughts into writing and sent them out into a public domain, but some “friends” find the writer an easy target because the writer is not present. “Did you see what so-and-so had in their status update? He/she must think they’re some important if they feel we need to know that kind of nonsense.” We’ve all heard something like this.
Another reason is that people make themselves easy targets for ridicule. They post items about what they are cooking for supper and that invites unheard comments on dietary habits and weight. Others post that they are out of town for the day or longer which prompts the response about notifying others that your house is empty for a while – and that is never a wise thing to do. And this one – “Going to bed” – which makes your “friends” comment, “Next thing that person will be telling us what he/she does in bed”.
A third type of status updater rants about the disadvantages of living in a rural setting. “It’s so boring here!” “I have to escape for a day”, or the famous “You know what people are like here!” Well, many may have similar thoughts, but when the words are printed on Facebook, the words become an affront to many who live in the rural villages. People find the comments offensive (even though they may have said the same thing on some occasion) and then the ridicule begins.
One person was overheard to say, “I must check Facebook now to see what laughs I can get to start my day.”
So updaters post what you like – well, just about – but be aware that your innocent comment, however trivial, may have unintended consequences: you and/and your updates may be the subject of a bit of discussion and derision.
Wesley Harris/Coaster Correspondent