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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"I Me Mine" in the Land of Facebook Egotism

"I-me-me mine, I-me-me mine,
I-me-me mine, I-me-me mine.

"All I can hear I me mine, I me mine, I me mine,
Even those tears I me mine, I me mine, I me mine,
No-one's frightened of playing it,
Everyone's saying it,
Flowing more freely than wine,
All through the day I me mine."

From "I Me Mine" by the Beatles 

Egoism, or acting to the benefit of one's self, is a staple of social networking sites like Facebook. People pump a steady stream of posts and comments on Facebook to elicit sympathetic reactions from their friends. Many of these egotistical pleas are masked as general discontentment with society, the government, and the general state of the world. Others are specific notations aimed at finding online solace for personal problems, often trivial matters revealed when networkers feel the need for psychological bolstering.

It is easy to see how Facebook has become an empty bandwagon ready to roll with any egotistical campaign. Bolstering strength in numbers and agreement in mass empathy, egotists find their "balm" of responsive pity in the network. Then, they consider these "likes" and often brief, obsequious statements as validation for their feelings and opinions.

I believe all folks use social networking for some pompous and selfish gain. Human nature, pride, and the need to share good and bad news combine to elicit some self-seeking behaviors. I see this as natural and mainly positive -- we all need love. However, the comments I find most offensive are the pitiful, non-relenting pleas for self-importance about everything under old Sol. I find revelations of personal discomfort and woe with little substance very annoying. And, narcissism in excess can be downright ugly.

Here are some categories of my most irritating Facebook posts:

1. The "I'm a Man/Woman of Constant Sorrow" Posts

The Doug and Wendy Whiners of the world post every little "bump" in their lives to fish for sympathy. They don't post so much to inform friends about what is new, but rather they post to confirm "I've seen troubles all my days." Things never get much better for Whiners because their pessimistic views seek personal affirmation, and once they get it, the affirmation encourages them to keep whining. It seems even in posting trivial "feel better" copied quotes and postcard-like photos, they are just looking for a silver lining. I quickly tire of these "little gems."

2. The "Seductive Senior High School Photo" Posts

It used to be senior photos were meant to preserve a "dressed up" image for inclusion in a high school yearbook. These days senior photos are often a series of glamour shots and braggadocio frames with other ulterior intent. Many are simply beautifully seductive, sensual poses that expose physical assets, and gorgeous faces. I have noticed these (intended? unintended?) advertisements highlight muscle, curves, and even T&A. Females and males are featured in the airbrushed shoots.

Of course, many Facebook posts meant to titillate are not senior photos, but supposedly innocent "hot," provocative shots of fit bodies and ravishing faces. The poses do draw attention. Who wouldn't love to possess the physical attributes of these beautiful people in their swimsuits, underwear, and
sexy fashion? Yes, I am jealous of those who can "flaunt it" but I am amazed at the willingness of many to distribute their suggestive images.

3. The "Pray for My Hangnail" Posts

I believe in the power of prayer, and I like posts on Facebook requesting prayer for those in serious straits. I am not encouraging a prayer ban on social media. Still, I believe requesting prayer on Facebook for every little concern crosses the line into egotism. I think He expects us to handle some very normal situations with human intellect and actions.

I don't want to overuse my God. God may not have time to secure the win in the ballgame, help humans pass simple tests of everyday living, help them cook dinner, and insure them eight hours of sleep each night. I think quality should win out over quantity in requesting Facebook friends to pray. To me, this also lifts the purpose of a needed address to the Almighty. I hate to use a cliche, but, of course, I usually do: "Don't sweat the small stuff." I will continue to pray for your major needs.

4. The "Watch Every Step In the Development of My Child" Posts

We are so proud of our children and our grandchildren that we love to post photos of them for our Facebook friends. Sometimes, I shudder when I think about the potential for problems these posts may pose -- we truly never know who shares these photos with whom and why "whom" may want to view them. I read about abductions and other criminal acts springing from Facebook and similar sources. I understand how terrible things could easily happen because I believe "bad guys" have devious but often intelligent minds.

I love to see photos of my friends' precious children. I just question the wisdom of posting photos of kids revealing every little thing they do, every place they are, and everything they are planning to do. Our hometown paper does not even post maternity columns of newborns as it once did. And, sorry, gals, I don't relish seeing ultrasound, fetal development exposures. I believe some things are still very personal and better shared with closest family and friends.

5. The "Who Will Take Time to Read This Message and Share?" Posts

To me, posts that request re-posting personal affirmations of friendship that require a reply -- one word, where we met, why you friend me, etc. -- reflect sad needs for companionship or for ego validation. I always wonder why I should re-post instead of creating my own comments. It makes me wonder what the person who gives me the instructions truly wants. I never reply simply because I would rather not complete a designated, rote assignment. Maybe, I'm just too judgmental, but I think many people may be too lazy to personally message me and then receive a reply. I always respond to those.

I, me, mine -- I advocate Facebook as a medium for almost everything. It is a social network for close friends and a instantaneous, valuable network for information, news, and activism. As a retired writing teacher, how could I not promote Facebook. I have seen people use the network to do much good work.

I feel egotism occurs when Facebook becomes a crutch, not a tool. And, I say that understanding  functions of such a tool include tons of trivial matter -- providing smiles, being silly, and seeking some much-needed companionship. I love the interaction, wit, and camaraderie.

At the same time, I believe Facebook is not a substitute for human interaction. It may lead to positive interaction, but it does not suffice the needs of the human soul all by itself. To get to the nitty-gritty of friendship and companionship, people must leave the confines of online "I, me, mine" and physically contact others in the real world of "we, yours, ours."

P.S. -- Almost daily I am amazed at how easily egotists fool unsuspecting people with bogus photos and information on Facebook. And, opinions? Wow! Some are formed instantaneously and should never be committed to print. I always taught students that one of the major purposes of writing was to preserve thoughts and ideas, so it is imperative to think about the needs of your audience before you produce your final draft.

"Hello Facebook friends. I'm so shy, innocent, and hot."

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