If you spend time on social media – especially Facebook, where old people like myself hang out now that the kids have all moved on to other, trendier, less obvious places where they can be kids and not have to worry about being monitored by all the old people (vide supra) – you know that things come in cycles.
For a while everyone was posting videos of people lip-syncing to popular songs. There was a phase where every third post was a petition. And way back in the Jurassic age of social media (2009) there were these things called Notes that people would post, answering questions and asking those who were tagged or interested to answer the same ones – little ice-breaker exercises for a digital medium.
I kind of miss the Notes. They were a product of a more innocent time.
This tells you how fast the eons flicker in and out on social media.
The Notes have never come back and since Facebook has become the faceless behemoth that it is these days I don’t expect that they ever will. Nobody has seen or heard from Carly Rae Jepsen in years. Someone should call her, maybe. You still see petitions, but they’re pretty easy to ignore since mostly they serve to announce to the world how fine the petitioner’s moral weave is. Once you have said to yourself, “That person who put this on their social media account is a moral example to this poor benighted world and I hope there are more people like that out there, because there certainly isn’t one sitting in my seat,” you have accomplished the poster’s mission and you’re pretty much done. Signing is entirely optional.
I don’t mind the fundraising things, oddly enough – the posts that say, “We’re doing a strange and taxing physical thing in order to raise money for this worthwhile cause!” and the like. There are a lot of good causes out there. Good luck with them. Sometimes I even contribute.
And, in general, I like memes. They're interesting. They're funny. Facebook is where the jokes went once email became a chore.
But not all memes are created equal. Some of them are really irritating.
One of the more pernicious things that went out for a while but is unfortunately now making a comeback is the “Repost This Or You’re An Asshole” meme, and frankly I’m a little sick of it.
Yes, I have a hard-working dad.
Yes, I love my kids. And my wife. And my extended family all the way out to cousins (which is as far as my family goes, though Italian families do tend to define "cousin" rather broadly). And my pets, most days.
Yes, I am happy with my personal religious views. I regard them as my own business, however, and as the other (more entertaining) meme goes, I find religion rather analogous to a penis in that it is perfectly fine to have and it is lovely for you if you are proud of yours but waving it about in public is annoying, attempting to shove it down my throat will get you forcibly removed from my presence, and you are advised not to point it at my children if you want to see the sun go down.
Yes, I think your occupation is a worthwhile one, unless you’re a telemarketer, in which case you should probably find a new field.
Yes, I have very good friends who I don’t get to see or talk to nearly enough. We’re still very good friends even so.
Yes, this. Yes that. Yes the other.
No, I will not repost your meme.
It's nothing personal. Don't infer anything from it.
Even more exasperating is the current tsunami of Facebook status updates that talk about how the poster really needs to start culling people from their friends list and would I please put one word – just one word! – about how we met in the comments and then repost this whole mess as my status update so they can respond, because otherwise …
Well, I’m not really sure otherwise.
Presumably I will be unfriended, a clumsy but somehow needed verb these days.
Or perhaps my eternal soul will be cast into the pit of hell, there to spend its time with all the rest of the sinners who have ignored the petitions and other such things that come down the pike. I’ll be in good company, at least. The sinners are much more fun.
No, I’m not going to do that either.
If you’re on my friends list at all, it’s because I like you. It’s because I value spending time with you, either in person or online or both. It’s because I find you interesting and worthwhile. I find my world to be a better place with you in it. I know very well how I met you – I am a historian, after all, and remembering things is what I do for a living – and I expect you do too. And if I skip that little bit of nonsense on your wall, well, again, nothing personal.
My status updates are my own, and if not responding to these memes leads you to set me adrift then I suppose I didn’t mean all that much to you in the first place and I should apologize for my earlier misconceptions about you.
I am probably making too much of this. But then it is my blog, and that’s what blogs are for, really.
Maybe I should find a good song to lip-sync to.