You’ve probably come across those articles like, “The 11 Kinds of People You Meet on Social Media”. This isn’t one of those, exactly, but it is me making a few observations.
I’ve spent more time on social media (by which I mostly mean Facebook with a little Twitter and Instagram thrown in) since COVID began than I ever have before, and I’m realizing more and more that different people want different things out of it. That’s become apparent with both my friends’ list and the people I’ve interacted with on various pages and in various groups over the last few months. Some of it was apparent before, even long before, but some of it has come to the front in a big way.
It’s like that old joke about doing cocaine. “It intensifies your personality.” Sure, but what if you’re an asshole?
Trolls and irritants and bad actors I can deal with. These are different. Less directly harmful, but not generally helping my overall enjoyment of my social media experience.
- “Look at me, look at me, look at me.” Selfies, memories, pictures of themselves and very little else. Can go up to dozens of posts per day.
- “Listen to me, listen to me, listen to me.” Long-winded opinions every day. Things that belong on a blog instead of a quick post, but that never come with a TL:DR version. Which is fine, because they’re just looking for approval, not to engage.
- “I don’t want to talk about it, I just want you to agree with me.” Posts stupid stuff regularly. Gets upset when you disagree. If you post something that makes it incredibly obvious that they’re wrong, the post disappears.
- “I’m grumpy AF and ready to go out of my way for you to know it.” Posts things that are designed to call out half of the people reading it but doesn’t actually want to have a discussion with anyone directly.
- “I’m right, nothing you can say will change my mind, and I’ve come to this place where my obviously correct opinion is different than everyone else’s so that I can tell you that you’re all wrong.” Disagrees at a fundamental level with the page they’re posting on and needs everyone on that page to know it.
- “Most of my posts are designed to make you ask me what they mean or if I’m okay. I need the attention but want you to start things.” Also known as the Queen/King/Regent of Vague-book.
- “Here are all the things I think you should know.” Don’t expect them to respond to any of your comments. You’re just supposed to read the articles, news stories, and opinion pieces they post and then Like them.
- “See how funny I am?” So many jokes. So many of them not funny. Some of them may be… problematic.
- “The pot must be stirred.” Posts things to provoke a reaction, usually a negative or indignant one. Not quite a troll, but steps up to the line frequently.
I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones that have stood out to me in the last little while. I feel like most people share some combination of things they like, find funny, feel are politically or socially relevant. They react to other people’s posts, sometimes comment, and aren’t afraid to comment back and forth when the subject seems to warrant it.
But not everyone. Some of these can eventually be so annoying that you need to snooze or unfollow them. Occasionally, I’ve unfriended someone, though that’s usually an extreme situation and has almost always been due to fundamental differences in worldview rather than politics or simple differences of opinion. See the attached meme for the types of things that qualify.
Enjoy your sojourns on social media and keep an eye out for the folks who want to make that harder. A few of them just need the right kind word. The rest, you probably can’t change their behaviour, so you need to decide whether they’re contributing in a positive way to your feed.
Stay safe and be well, everyone.by