As the transition from analog to digital communications platforms nears completion, the heavy task of tutoring people on social media protocol begins. Most recently, online bullying and cyber-stalking have grabbed headlines for being a negative side-effect to the general ease and efficiency the internet has brought to all our lives. Not to make light of any of these unfortunate phenomena, but there's a different sort of irritable online occurrence that truly offends me -- the shameless and relentless public displays of affection by my so-called Facebook friends.
You know who I'm talking about because you all have friends like this: Couples who, despite the fact that they live with each other and share the same bed, feel the compulsion to constantly tell each other how much they love one another via uploaded photos of them kissing each other, or overemotional love proclamations as Facebook status updates for everyone to see.
In fact, "Barf" is what I want to leave as a comment under these updates, but I always stop myself, mostly out of my perverted craving to see what these bozos will do next. They always seem to outdo themselves. But what's even more perplexing are the innumerable comments from their (often and sadly mutual) friends, that are genuinely supportive of their tacky display.
I still remember when I first found out about Facebook and cautiously joined up. It seemed that everyone I had ever known in my life, including my grade five summer camp counsellor, was part of this global community. It fascinated me that the world could become this small in such a short time. For someone like me, away on the road touring for a lot of the year, Facebook became my instant antenna to my friends back home. It allowed us to catch up on lost years and keep up with each other's lives. I finally kicked that marginalized, disconnected feeling I'd had with them for over a decade. It didn't take me long, though, to do an immediate 180 and realized that it might've been better to remain cut off from these people.
Were you, like me, giving all your friends more credit than they deserved? Y'know, feeling proud of yourself because of the smart company you kept before Facebook arrived? Here I was holding my friends up in such high regard, considering them deep thinkers with profound philosophical and socio-political insight who'd have to dumb it down when their "friend in a band" came waltzing through the door. But now my newsfeed is constantly ticker-taped with photos of people's dogs and cats, memes they didn't write, pics of Niagara Falls, internet shortcuts like "lol" and "lmfao," and of course these redundant decrees of love for their partner.
Criticizing people's alleged outpouring of love will most surely get me branded an asshole. Fine. But it still begs the question, "Why do people feel the need to tell everyone they know how much they love each other on the world wide web?" I understand the advent of reality television has exponentially increased everyone's desire to over-share, but if two people know they're in love with each other does it need to be constantly chanted like a hypnotic mantra? Are they perhaps trying to convince themselves?
We've seen the indisputable revolutionary roles Facebook and Twitter have played in world events like the toppling of dictators -- Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia. But over in the first world it's nothing but a non-stop parade of dimwits participating in what I can only define as an adult version of "Show and Tell."
OK, I get it, you love your boyfriend. I figured it out when, on his birthday, we all saw you post a long-ass update addressed it only to him, about the night the two of you met. Even though he knew all about it already because well... he was there, too.
The lady doth propagate too much, me thinks.
Remember when you were having that <em>really bad</em> day and blasted Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" 23 times on Spotfiy? Yeah... well, we witnessed that low moment via your Facebook profile's ticker, the real-time mini feed located in the upper right hand corner of Facebook pages. If you don't want to share your (possibly embarrassing) musical preferences with your Facebook friends, make sure to turn off the "Share to Facebook" button (at the top right of your Spotify desktop app).
Some Facebook apps, like Socialcam, are designed to make you click on content by using sleazy, eye-catching headlines. "Socialcam's 'trending' videos read like a bunch of crossovers between the 'American Pie' franchise and 'Jackass,'" <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/socialcams-so-sleazy-its-insightful/2012/06/05/gJQAor3FGV_story.html" target="_hplink">The Washington Post wrote</a> in June. If you're a SocialCam user, remember that the spam-like titles of videos you view automatically pop up on your profile, so your friends all might know when you've watched "CraZy ThReeSom!" or "Two Wasted Chicks" last week.
Glancing at a juicy article on how Miley Cyrus <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/22/miley-cyrus-side-boob-actress-sex-scenes-losing-virginity_n_1536026.html" target="_hplink">flashed some sideboob</a>? While this wouldn't phase some Facebook users, others would prefer not to have anything with the word "sideboob" published on their profiles or in friends' News Feeds. Facebook's social reader apps track the articles you read, and with permission you grant when first downloading the app, then post the stories automatically to your wall. So be wary of those scandalous headlines promising half-naked pictures.
Some people love getting birthday wishes via Facebook. But putting your your full date of birth on any social networking site means strangers are privy to information that can be used to steal your identity. If you want to keep your birthday up online, consider taking the safe route and nix the year.
Friends or apps can now tag your location via Facebook. But maybe you don't want everyone to know you're visiting that neighborhood dive bar for the fourth night this week. "There isn't a specific setting to block people from tagging you in a post that includes a location," <a href="https://www.facebook.com/help/location/privacy" target="_hplink">Facebook's site reads</a>. This means if you don't want your whereabouts known, you'll have to change your Timeline setting to approve all tags before they're posted, or manually remove the tags once they've been published.
Photo-sharing app Instagram is relatively direct in telling you where your pictures are posted. But you might unknowingly be photo-spamming your friend's Facebook feeds by letting the app re-post every picture you "like" onto Facebook. And things could get a little dicey depending on <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/30/instagram-porn_n_1842761.html?utm_hp_ref=technology" target="_hplink">what types of images you view.</a> Luckily this feature is easy to change. Just go into the settings options on your Instagram app, click the "Share Settings" tab and turn off the setting that shares "Liked" photos to your Facebook timeline.
Tagging or naming younger children on Facebook can be a dangerous move. Similar to putting your full birthday on the interent, you could be offering up too much information and enabling a breach of privacy. "If your child isn't on Facebook and someone includes his or her name in a caption, ask that person to remove the name," <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2010/june/electronics-computers/social-insecurity/7-things-to-stop-doing-on-facebook/index.htm" target="_hplink">Consumer Reports advises</a>.
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