Friday, October 18, 2013

The Facebook Thing (part 2)

Now that we have uncovered your deep-seeded need to be liked (or loved), let's now turn to your other need - to passive/aggressively face people on the Internet.  Oh - now.
The ease at which we confront each other on these posts and comments is of great sociological interest to me.  The distance and anonymity of the interaction leads to all sorts of interesting (and, dare I say, honest) commentary over what is proposed.  Here, one can be CrazyGuy99 and post a comment about what a jackass the poster is, and live to tell about it.  Chances are, the poster isn't aware of who CrazyGuy99 is, and even if he did know, the probability of retribution is minimized by the proximity of the commenter.  It's simple social math.
On the Facebook, however, the commenter is generally one of your (so-called) friends, and as such, their identity is known.  Even if your profile photo is that of a flower or a cat, your name is attached to the comment, so the poster knows whom they are offending.
Nevertheless, the distance of the Internet connection leads the commenter to all sorts of strange (and sometimes true) comments about what the poster said.  Political commentary, religious viewpoints and other sorts of personal viewpoints become fair game for commenter, via the distance of the Internet and its relative safety.
All of which leads to the passive/aggressive behavior of the offended party.  Their options are few:  (1) ignore the commenter [rare] (2) respond in kind, inciting some sort of Internet confrontation or (c) unfriend the commenter, thereby leaving him in the lurch as to their response.  Dead in the water, as it were.  This is the passive/aggressive response, and, I'm sad to say, the most popular response among the Facebook faithful.
Unfriending someone is a classic retort.  In chess, it would have a name like "The Zuckerberg Defense."  The Zuckerberg Defense is a move that has no response.  Once one is unfriended on Facebook, the responses are limited to the verbal, "Oh yeah, well, fuck you, too!" which goes largely unheralded, since the unfriender is no longer in Facebook reply-land.
One step further than the Zuckerberg Defense is the block.  That is a "dead to me" response, and has no possible response, verbal or otherwise.  The "dead to me" victim is virtually left in the woods to fend for themselves.  Their only possible retort is to (1) form a blockade among their other Facebook Friends or (b) Withdraw from Facebook altogether.
The Facebook Withdrawal is the ultimate retreat, from which there is no response.  Facebook Withdrawal has no response or retort.  You have proclaimed yourself dead to you, and as such, dead to the Facebook Community - or Family - as it were.
The Facebook Withdrawal leaves the withdrawler with two options (1) stay withdrawn, and therefore withdrawn from the "Facebook Community" in perpetuity - until something better comes along [see the MySpace Response] or (b) Come crawling back to Facebook in some mysterious manner by re-activating your Facebook page and thereby acknowledging to the "Facebook Community" that you have confessed your sins and are ready to be welcomed back into the "family."
Option b requires an admission of guilt so that the person who withdrew admits that they were somehow at fault and is asking their Facebook Family for tacit approval of their anger and subsequent remission.  Please let us back into your little world.
The problem with that is that the admission comes with it a certain sort of crawling back behavior that does not equate with the passive/aggressive behavior of the people who shunned him to begin with.
What we are left with is the idea that the world existed and friends were made prior to the invention of Facebook, and in that world, confrontations were handled face-to-face.  In our new texting, impersonal world of cellular communications and virtual friendships, the more viable option is to exclude people from your life who either make you think or react.
That, my virtual friends, is the harsh reality of virtual friendships.