I have been spending more and more time on Facebook, and learning how it substitutes for actually living your life.
People who hang out there are losers, like me, or else they’d be doing something out in the world. They wouldn’t need to share every thought or meal or wisecrack with a bunch of imaginary friends.
I noticed this a few weeks ago when I spent hours chatting with a complete stranger, based on a shared taste in art and books. I tried to ignore his increasing references to asses. He liked big asses. Which was fine with me, up to a point. After a while, apropos of something, I told him about Max.
He expressed dismay and then excitedly started a list of other people with dead children. He had an impressive fluency here, even throwing in Paul Newman.
I said goodbye and blocked him. But it was my own fault for buying into the imaginary friend illusion propagated by Facebook and all “social media” I guess.
Still, I enjoyed looking at the pictures people posted and I often laughed out loud at conversations with my new imaginary friends. One of them even sent me a package of vintage gloves! She is really smart and miserable: a good description of many of my real life friends, too.
I also enjoy jumping into debates, usually without much consequence.
Tonight, I was upset when one Facebook person I really like expressed his despair over a friend’s death. Lots of people commented on his ‘status’, some offering words of condolence. Others wanted to point out that they had experienced things just as bad or worse. I could see it turning into a competition. I struggled to keep my opinions to myself, even when someone posted a depressing Leonard Cohen song in this thread, as if Leonard Cohen is a good antidote to despair.
Then, someone posted a video of the song “People Who Died” by Jim Carroll. If you don’t know it, it’s a litany of the writer’s dead friends.
I stupidly commented, “I don’t think this is useful, with all due respect.”
This was greeted with righteous fury that devolved into a whole back and forth where I politely apologized but the woman got madder and madder. Her friends jumped in to call me names. One of them said “People are fucking unbelievable!” and a million people liked his comment…including the original “friend” I was defending.
Ooooooooooh, right? When a gang of imaginary people go off on you, it’s a singular experience like no other. You can smell the feeding frenzy, which takes on a life of its own. It has nothing to do with anything you actually said or did. It’s just people feeling exhilarated by getting to gang up on someone.
I have already payed my dues with malicious strangers. But thank god something happened to steer me away from the tragic black hole that is Facebook.