I will admit to being vain enough that I have “friended” people on Facebook just to see my number of friends go up. I won’t send out requests, myself, but I have accepted friend requests from people I don’t really care about.
For the most part, it hasn’t been a problem. Most people don’t spend an inordinate amount of time or effort on their Facebook profiles, and it’s easy enough to hide updates on Mafia Wars or other applications that I find inane.
But there are a few friends I have – one in particular, who shall remain nameless – who don’t fit into that “most people” category, and whose updates I am seriously considering hiding on my friend feed. This one friend is someone I haven’t seen in the better part of nine years, someone who I was only acquainted with in high school. And yet I know more about her personal life than I do about clipper cuts, and I’m a licensed hairstylist.
This person – let’s call her “Jane” – is under the mistaken impression that everyone she has friended on Facebook is on tenterhooks for more intimate details of her stunningly unremarkable life. You know that video, “The Trouble with Twitters,” where people Tweet things like “Watching TV with my cat” and “I forgot how much I like pickles?” Well, Jane is like that on Facebook. Nothing is too unimportant for a status update, including household chores and her husband’s bowel movements.
For instance, Jane recently baked a fruit-filled cake. How do I know this? Because she had no less than three status updates about said cake, and a photo album of the cake and the people who ate it. We see Jane in the kitchen. Jane mixing the cake batter. Jane pouring the batter into a cake pan. Jane adding the fruit filling. Jane putting the cake into the oven. The cake coming out of the oven. The cake on a cooling rack on the counter. The cake being iced. The cake being decorated. The decorated cake. Several women standing around the cake, smiling. Jane next to the cake she baked. Someone slicing the cake. Someone holding a slice of cake. Someone putting a forkful of cake into her mouth. And several more random shots of … you guessed it. The cake. I exaggerate a bit, but there were nearly twenty pictures in the album and I got a little teary-eyed at the thought that some poor bandwidth somewhere died to put those pictures on the internet.
And the status updates? “Just baked a yummy cake!” “Everyone loved the cake!” “Fruit filling is so yummy!” I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the idea. To hear Jane tell the story, it all started in a Betty Crocker mix factory in Des Moines.
You know what, Jane? It’s a bloody cake. And no one cares.
The cake is only the most recent of her over sharing. Every single picture she has ever taken is on an album on her profile. Yes, your baby may be cute (in an awkward, let’s-hope-he-grows-into-his-looks sort of way), but do I really need to see ten nearly identical photographs of him making funny faces? Here he is in a diaper, smiling. Here he is in a diaper, smiling again. And here he is, this time smiling, in a diaper. I don’t mean to sound cruel, here. But I don’t even know the kid. If I had more than three similar-looking photos of my own nephew, I’d get a little bored. And this woman has more than thirty photo albums on her profile, each more superfluous than the last.
And I have noticed that the people who clog up my friend feed the most (Jane and those like her) seem to have the worst grammar and spelling. I’m reasonably certain these people have graduated from high school, but I’d never guess that if I were to judge on their ability to put more than three words together. These are the people who randomly ad Os to the word “so” in an effort to convey emotion. “I am sooooooooo excited!!!!!!!!!!!” They might say. Because they also enjoy overusing punctuation marks. After all, they think, if one exclamation mark means I’m excited, then twenty of them must mean I’m super (or sometimes suuuperrrrrr) excited. Exclamation mark! My recent rant about grammar and spelling was a direct result of too many illegible status updates by two specific people.
I don’t mean to pick on oversharers like Jane, though. There are plenty of other annoying friend habits that make me want to log off for good (although I’ll concede that some of it has to do with how Facebook is set up). There’s the obsessive quiz-taking that several friends practice. I have hidden many of them from my feed, but, like a particularly virulent strain of the Hantavirus, for every one quiz I stamp out three more seem to emerge in its place. No offense, Facebook friends, but I don’t give a crap what color your aura is, what supernatural creature you are, who your Twilight soulmate is, or what your Native American/Redneck/French/Scottish name is. You’re a fan of not being shot in the face? Of not catching on fire? Congratulations. You’ve acquired common sense. Now, how about becoming a fan of shutting the heck up?
I’m not saying I’m perfect and none of my updates are ever annoying. I’ll admit to being guilty of some of this, myself. I had to find out what Golden Girl I am (Dorothy). But I do those for me. Half the time I don’t post my results on my wall, and I figure when I do it annoys people so I limit myself to one, maybe two a week. And I post other things. I’ve found that I’m most annoyed by repeated quiz-taking when it’s done by people who never do anything else on Facebook. I have friends I know nothing useful about, but I could tell you what their Barbie name is, and that annoys me.
So take heed, potential Facebook friends. I will accept your friend request, yes. But I can only hold back my snarky commentary for so long, and if it’s only a matter of time before you post one too many cake pictures, beware. I will comment. And I will not hold back the snark.