Why I Don't Want A Dislike Button on Facebook

See the little girl in my profile picture, timidly swinging, surrounded by endless acres of green? She appears anxious and awkward, gripping the chains with tiny fists, white saddle-shoes drawn together at the toes and though I can assure you I was nervous that day, left to swing alone without a protective figure behind me as Mom had to step away to snap the image, I was also the happiest little girl in the world. Because I lived in The Middle of Nowhere - Waukesha, Wisconsin - and the only people I interacted with on a daily basis were my parents, my Big Brover, Freddie, and my best friend, Flopsy - our dachshund.

I was such a happy child - until we moved to Florida, the suburbs, Flopsy sent to live with my grandparents in Texas because "the alligators'll get her!" and just after recovering from that loss, I entered the public school system and suddenly, I faced...people. So. Many. People. And I wanted to make all of them my friends.

But a lot of those people were not happy and were disinclined to make friends with such a naïve, smiley, goofy girl. I didn't understand then that not everyone lived the supremely lucky life I did at the time: a mother and a father under one roof, a doting big brother, a beautiful home and an upper-class income upheld by two working-class minded parents who knew to spoil us with what they never had, but never to the rotten point.

I didn’t know there was a thing in this world for me to dislike - other than the fact that my dog now lived in Texas.

I was blessed. Until life computed two fatal errors and my system crashed. And those fatal errors are, to this day, the only two things I simply cannot tolerate in this world. I may alter the terms somewhat in discussion, but, as My Daddy always said: “Math never changes.” The sums, sadly, always add up the same:

1) Willful ignorance
2) Meanness...for the sake of meanness

The latter I often call by "provocation just for the sake of provoking" - meaning, "Picking on people just to be a fucking asshole and to make yourself feel like a tough guy/chick." And when I see meanness for the sake of meanness, I always want to ask the inflictor of the mean: "Did it work? Do you feel AWESOME now? Are you a BIG PERSON now?!"

And in real life, I have actually done so. But on a social networking site, it's not as easy. We'll come back to that. For now, the catalyst of this mess - and when I say “mess” I mean it - this is not writing. This isn’t even blogging. This is blarghing - I am purging a mess of emotions and blargh and so now, to the gag:

Why do you people feel so compelled to share your negativity with the world?

Don't like it? Great! Then don't like it - and just “move along...move along…” Why in the name of roller-skating Olivia Newton-John must you have the means by which you can actually go to someone's status update or music video or news article or blarghedee-blargh and CLICK A BUTTON that actually shows --

::THUMBS-DOWN!:: "I *DISLIKE* THIS! RAAAARRRRGGHHH!"

Why you gotta shit all over their Xanadu?

I know what you are thinking. Yes, I do. I SAID...yes...I do. Annie, the hyper-sensitive. Annie, quick to anger. Annie, the Mick with the temper to show for it. All true. You're also thinking, "This is fucking Facebook, you jackass. Who gives a shit?"

Why, Annie, the bleeding-heart, of course.

You hear it all the time: everybody is on Facebook. Indeed, almost everyone I know is. And I care about and love just...everyone. So, given that we're talking about everyone and meanness being inflicted just, oh, everywhere on Facebook and the potentiality for more... Just call me Mick and let it bleed.

Since the following is imminent anyway, let us use it as an example, shall we? We shall.

"Annie McDermott's faithful gay companion of 13 years, Buster Bowden, has passed on."

Yeah, I don't like it either. It hurts my heart to even portend it but it will happen so let's use the example and get on with it. See what I said? I DON'T LIKE IT. To phrase it somewhat differently, I DISlike it. But do I want to post that update, step away from the computer so I might go bury my dog, have a service, weep and sob for X-amount of hours/days, then after appropriate mourning time (as mandated by either "The Official Dog Mourning Handbook" or by my Facebook addiction that compels me to check my notifications like a crack addict must check the status of a pipe-stem with their mouth), look at my profile page and see 37:

::THUMBS-DOWNS!:: DISLIKE! DISLIKE, DISLIKE, DIS-LIIIIKE!!!

No! No I do NOT! Please! It’s bad enough my dog is dead - can we not further the misery? I was pretty sure you all would disapprove - really, I don’t need this button to serve as some kind of enzyme for your bête-noir enthusiasm! Cripes, take it down a notch and say I updated about stubbing my toe - and dammit, it hurts. May have even broke the sumbitch. I'd so much rather return to my Facebook to find a slew of ::Thumbs-UPS!:: and, "Nicely done, Grace. Were you trying to walk and breathe simultaneously again? Thought we talked about that." To which I would respond, "I thought we talked about your FACE - *BETH!*" Because, see, I'll take loving-sarcasm over meanness - or, negativity - every time.

I see posts I dislike all of the time, be they political opinions that take a severe right turn from my own, or religious views that...exist…or music videos that make my ears - literally - bleed rivulets of just, oh, the tiniest tears. But do I feel compelled to cyber-stroll on up to said person's post and say, "THE GRATEFUL DEAD *SUCK.* AND SO DOES CHERRY GARCIA ICE-CREAM!!!" Nope. I just scrollllll on past. I keep my dislike to myself. Because there's enough meanness in this world already. Do I need to add to it? No. As my Daddy used to say to the Krishnas in the airport: "I thought I just gave to you guys! Well, they looked exactly like YOU!" Really, I contributed enough anger and vitriol to humanity from ages 7 through...31. I'd been hurt - many times over - by the callous, indifferent hands of the willfully ignorant and those who are mean...just for the sake of meanness. In my experience, the two, unfortunately, coexist. I felt righteous in doling it back out - to YOU. Even if YOU were not in any way deserving of my wrath - you just happened to be in the path of this F-5 tornado. It backfired, of course; sure, I hit my marks and hurt, just as I intended - but as a wise green Whill once said, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to…suffering.” You hurt others, they hurt, they get angry, they want to hate right back - at YOU. You suffer in return.

Damn, that puppet knew his shit.

I’m waxing too deep for you, ain’t I? Dislike it? Stop reading, because I’m not done waxing, Daniel-san.

Recently, I deleted over 40 friends. Meanness? No. That was an act of kindness - for them and myself. Many kept me around out of some Facebook formality: we went to school together in the 80s, 90s so we should be friends now so how are yo--oh. Recovering addict? Some...some issues with manic-depression? Huh. Well, it's good that you're doing wel-- Wait - did you just say you're an atheist? A liberal? Oh, you are a big freaky-freak you crazy-ass, God-hating, gay-loving, pill-popping, socialist-supporting WRITER!!!

And comments from them... "Nevermore," quoth the cuckoo... "Nevermore."

That, however, was fine by me - until those people racked up in numbers too many and I realized I had a case of Friends Filler and deletion was the cure. No, what really stuck in this cuckoo's craw were the "friends" who rarely commented but, when they did, decided the only thing to say was...something unkind.

WHY?!

I mean...just...

WHY?!?!

And here is where I light the flame of the flash-point of this Hindenburg catastrophe of, oh, the humanity - and it blows both ways:

People...you never, ever, EVER know what is going on in another person's life. Never. Status updates do not an every minute life-catalog make. Nor do posts of Oprah’s retirement, excitement over “Twilight’s” release, or a favorite Mötley Crüe video. And here’s where I come back to that earlier point: it isn’t quite as easy, on a social networking site, to confront a bully and say, “Hey - dummy? Don’t be such a jackass and potshot my post - or her post or theirs or what-have-you.” Because - and here’s the rub, Bill Shakespeare - this is a fucking social networking site. It’s - heh-HYUCK! - fer fuuuuun! I shouldn’t have to explain to you, “Dude. I posted this video of a weight-challenged young woman taking a tumble off a table in an effort to distract myself from the fact that I just came from the lawyer’s office where I officially filed for bankruptcy. And I’m playing it off like it’s a joyous thing but…really? Ya think so? So can we...can it with the mocking of me for my 'uncoolness' for posting said video?” Or, “Hey, ‘friend’ - can you maybe not say something nasty-sarcastic in response to one of the few updates I post that reflects my recent sadness? I had a bad day. I updated on it. And you say, ‘Yawn.’ Really? ‘Cause, honestly, I don’t want to tell everyone anymore that my dad just keeps on keepin’ on with the strokes and that I have - and I ain’t bein’ hyperbolic here - lost. count. It’s five or six now. I. Don’t. Know. What I do know is, I just spent a week in Hell, watching him suffer in delirium and you say, ‘Yawn.’ And, being that this is the internet and not real life…I simply don’t have the means to say what I really, really want to - need to - say to you.”

When you go out to dinner, walk through a mall, sit on an airplane - any of the people you encounter in those situations - just as it is on here. Friend. Acquaintance. Ex-lover, ex-teacher (maybe a lil' of both) - I DON'T CARE. You never fucking know what is going on in somebody's life, head, heart be they soul mate or stranger. They may be posting Marky Mark videos or FAIL Blog images in the hopes of making you smile, laugh - anything to make you think things are - yes - wonderful over here - anything to make you like life more - because that is her way. Because she doesn’t want to waste anymore of your time with the sadness from her life when she knows…you have plenty of your own.

You do not know what any one person is really going through. Do not presume to. Christ - people live entire lifetimes with each other and never know what the hell is going on inside the minds, souls of the other - generally, because they are too chickenshit to ask. Or leave.

Right now, millions of you are smiling in an effort to mask hurt beneath. I do it all of the time. We encounter each other in the briefest of moments and never know the difference. Some of us actually smile back. And then - for me, anyway - my smile becomes that much more genuine.

I will never understand how anyone can see something given freely and with a loving heart and shape it into something…sharp, cutting…unkind - be it a smile…or a status update.

Words. There are quite a lot of them here, if you‘ve made it this far. Don't they speak loudly enough? Doesn't somebody commenting with "Dislike" or "This sucks" say enough? Especially when - fuck all, man - that was NOT the response you were looking for? When you just wanted to put out a message of hope in a form you find...beautiful?

Yeah - I'm getting personal. Because, dammit, I'm sick of people taking my “cellar door” moments and making them unkind, unhappy - taking something I loved and morphing it into a memory I most certainly "dislike."

Why do you feel compelled to share dislike? Why should I awake to such a thing when what I really wanted was...comfort?

This is a segue. I have no other way to segue.

I am happy to play The Clown. I mean that sincerely. Live it, love the role. But I'm also human. My Daddy is dying a slow, tortuous death and every day, a little bit of his mind falls away; we kids lose a piece of him. Even if the strokes suddenly stop, he will never again be the Daddy we once knew - not with all the rehab in the world. He will not enjoy a grandchild provided by me. He’s barely had the time to enjoy the lone grandchild he has. She will likely not know his big, bountiful heart, always, always giving - to his own detriment; she will certainly not know his wit - his hybrid humor of Homer Simpson and Oscar Wilde - as his mind simply cannot make a return to that focus - not for great lengths of time, anyway. She will not know his brilliance - my god, his intellect, how smart…and here, I fail. I weep. Just as I have every day since this nightmare began…what? A month ago? Longer? I don’t know anymore. My father’s been in such poor health for so long now… But I learned from him how to play The Clown; any wit I may have - that’s My Daddy, through and through. He’s the one who taught us kids how to find laughter in even the darkest of hours - to remember the happiness, the good and nestle into it, make a home there, and cry…smiling.

I dislike the fact that my father, who gave so much love to this world - so much of himself to so many people - is dying an old man’s death at far too young an age. I dislike that he’s lived in such acute, chronic agony for the latter half of his life. I dislike that I was such a terrible mess of a daughter 7 of the last 8 years, and he’s only seen me well for just over 18 months and I’ve had such little time to show him how sorry I am, how desperately I want to make him proud of me, how much I love him…

I don’t need a fucking button to show that.

Words.

Actions may speak louder in the real world, but in cyberspace…

“Social networking.” I thought I was supposed to be talking to you people.

A post from a friend - an article on a terrible injustice, tragedy, catastrophe and, like your friend, you feel a strong sense of dislike for this. Here’s a suggestion: say something. For fuck’s sake - if a dislike button manifests, I’m going to one day head back into the classroom and have 30 students turn in essays for “Argument & Analysis” consisting of this thoughtful contention:



A music video, status update, policy, deity or thought you dis-like, posted by a friend who, clearly, likes it? Try this:

Say…nothing.

Leave the meanness and ignorance to those who have it outlined in their daily job descriptions: politicians, obnoxious morning DJ’s, people in the tobacco industry (yeah, yeah - shaddup), the guy who works at the Quik-Stop down the road who just…isn’t very nice to me…so I’m hoping it’s in his job description ‘cause otherwise…I dunno…

Or post your own opinion on said disliked…thing but why this compunction to sneeze your disgust on another person’s page like so much Swine Flu? Why can’t you just let them be…happy? Let them be Republican, hippie, pro-marijuana, anti-abortion, yay-werewolf dude, boo-vampire guy, I bet I can find 100,000 people who hate the Gators! without spitting your spite all over it? Yeah, the last one’s personal. All she had to do was join “I bet I can find 100,000 people who hate the Seminoles!” and - tah-dah! - revenge was hers! Instead, the only thing my “friend” said to me over the course of about 6 months was a venting of anger over my joining of aforementioned group - venting punctuated by smiley faces. So when the friends list deletion came nigh…buh-bye. There’s playful banter and then there’s…mean. Flourish your fury with all the winking emoticons you want to - snarky is snarky and your :) does not in any way make nice your nasty, eat-shit-and-die comment…that is now…ON. MY. PAGE! KEEP YOUR YUCK TO *YOURSELF!* I have more than enough shit sandwich on my plate, here, in the real world. Honestly - do I have to deal with such ugliness on a fricking website meant to help me connect and share with the people in my life? And if so…get outta’ my LIFE!

I’m exhausted now. This is good. I think it means I’ve purged and blaaaarrrgghed up a good deal of shit sandwich. I’m sure many of you will put up your dukes, protest with arguments of, “Yeah, but remember when you yelled at me for reading ‘Twilight’?!” and yes, yes I do. I never post my opinion on an update or some-such that doesn’t ask for it outright, or exhibit some sort of question, shock, “Can you believe this?”, etc. - unless I’m being sarcastic-nice. Yeah, it’s possible. My three closest girlfriendships are rooted in loving sarcasm. I don’t know how we’d communicate were it not for the language of the wry and sardonic. But some people don’t speak sarcasm and I now understand that so I tend not to say too much to them. (If I could flip a switch in my head and turn it on and off at will…well, I probably wouldn’t.) I have even been guilty of, I believe thrice, commenting with, “Dislike.” Which bothered me intensely at the time - still does. The blame lies with torpidity. For reasons of exhaustion or simply coming up overdrawn at the word bank, at that moment, the writer could not better express herself - but at least she used a word. "Dislike" or even the illustration of ::THUMBS-DOWN!:: is far preferable to a button clicked. I rarely use LMAO! or LOL! these days - I favor "HA HA HA!" Why? Because I'm a goddamn English professor and when last I taught, 3 years ago, I spent two entire class sessions explaining to my students that "LOL" is NOT A WORD. Not to mention...are we really so damn lazy anymore?

Don't answer that.

And let me state it clear: I was a member of a “make a dislike button” group at one point. Ohyes. So how dare I write this? Because, Confused Reader, your writer…is a stupid one. What I was actually seeking was an “unlike” button. As in, “Somebody liked a status update I posted about my dog dying. They LIKE that my DOG is DEAD. I would like to have the ability to unlike their liking of this.” Once I realized this was not the case, I…dismembered myself? (Really, people, read the update and follow-up comments thoroughly before "liking" - because it makes me wonder, sometimes, who the real crazy is in this dyad.)

But should you wish to interrogate me further, stand me up at the firing line, you will have to wait - for answers, that is. I have responses for all of those types of questions, should they be asked - should anyone even bother to read this…talk about presumption…but don’t expect for me to answer today. I am weary. I am sad. The phone continues to ring with the clamor of bad news.

Do I expect all of you who are members of various “Make a DISLIKE Button” groups to run to the Facebook hills and leave said groups? Hell, no! Do I expect all kinds of sarcastic feedback - specifically, blasé comments of “Dislike” or the more verbose, “Where‘s the dislike button for this?”- at the end of this rambling blaaaaarrrrgh? Of course I do. I may be soft, but I ain’t stupid. I am also Queen Sarcastic - know that, mentally, I’ve preemptively beaten you to the condescending punch.

Will such comments or - worse still! - ignorance of this blaaaarrrrggghhh leave me feeling my bleeding-heart efforts futile?

Nah. Remember - I’m a liberal. I’m used to it.

******


I dedicate this to you, Daddy. Because I know that, despite your conservative, Catholic, Archie Bunker-esque ways…you’d have read this, then asked me to make “a billlllionty copies on that…doo-flicky thing”…so you could show it off to everyone on your friends list.

5 comments:

  1. I haven't read this yet because it looks like it might take four days. But how did I not know about this blog???

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  2. Because it just came into being today. Facebook's Note function wouldn't allow for the insertion of a picture and the formatting was a pain-in-the-ass. So...here we go. Oy.

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  3. Very well said.

    That is all.

    xo
    h

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  4. Imagine making people utilize their vocabulary to describe how they are reacting to something. Imagine regular folks being able to summon up the courage to be real even on FB.
    I love you Annie, keep up the good thought.

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  5. Annie, Thanks for sharing this, again. Helps me to remember you are one of my favoritist persons evermore. Now go ahead click the "Like" button. You know you want to.

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