John Y’s Musings from the Middle: What’s On Your Mind, Facebook?

Facebook needs to decide what they really want to know about us.

Ya know?

I mean, when I joined Facebook a few years ago, the empty status box always stared at me with the question, “What’s on your mind?” It was a respectful question that showed interest in my intellect and lured me in initially. Someone (rather “something”) wanted to know what little ole me was thinking. At that moment. And so I’d try to answer best I could. About what I was thinking at that moment. Even if I hadn’t been thinking of anything at all, I’d still come up with something because my intelligence was being respected and inquired about. And I didn’t want to let Facebook down. It was a wholesome and respectful relationship.

That lasted for awhile.

And then Facebook took an intimate, touchy-feely turn. The status box suddenly started asking, “What are you feeling?”

That’s a little too personal for me, to tell you the truth. It felt like being asked, “What color underwear are you wearing?” What happened to all that respect for my mind? It sounds contrived too…. like the kind of line you’d hear if the characters played by Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in Wedding Crashers took over Facebook. The red head in that movie should never have trusted Vince Vaughn’s character. And we shouldn’t trust the new “warm and fuzzy” Facebook solicitousness. I just don’t believe Facebook really genuinely wants to know about my feelings. And that there must be some self-serving motive behind it. And they may even make a funny  movie about this question one day starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson….and the laughs could be at our expense. No, thanks, Facebook. My feelings are strictly between me and my mood ring.

But now I see we have a Facebook inquiry 3.0. I guess we weren’t the only ones who were “on to them” about the faux feelings “status” line. So Facebook is now trying to put all that behind them and go “Hip.” That’s right, “hip!” As in the new status box inquiry, “What’s happening, John?”  Like they know me and are my new bro. It comes off over the top and feels like something akin to “Yo! Whassup John?!!”  It’s just too informal and inartfully hip. We all know what Mark Zuckerberg is like. He’s brilliant and tireless and one of the  great tech visionaries and innovators of our time. But hip? Nah.   As Seth Meyer and Amy Poehler would say without having to even think about this one, “Really, Facebook?”

jyb_musingsAnd I just checked to see if they had changed the question in the status box since I started writing this post 10 minutes ago. And they have. The newest iteration is the annoyingly invasive school marmish question, “What are you doing, John?” Geez!  “What are you doing, John?” I immediately felt like looking down and trying to find my Number 2 pencil. I can’t decide if the sentence is coming to me through the visage of SNL’s Church Lady or the machine, HAL, from 2001 A Space Odyssey. Either way, I don’t like the accusatory way the question is posed. It’s as if by staring into the Facebook status box I am presumed to not be taking life serious enough. Why else would I need to be stared down with the paternalistic question, “What are you doing, John?” That feels bleak…and disrespectful. A far cry from “What are you thinking?” I even feels a little like “Gotcha journalism.” There’s just no winning. How can you answer that query in a way that you feel good about yourself?

“What am I doing now? Oh, staring at the Facebook status bar and trying to respond to…..trying to respond to an important social issue or event…I mean, trying to say something that is really, really important about something important that is happening now or just happened recently.

I mean….I know not everything I post on Facebook has a socially redeeming value and I’m glad you are asking this tough question in a pointed way to force people like me to be less shallow on Facebook. And maybe a little ashamed if they aren’t doing something socially useful in their status updates.

Which is what I’m trying to do right now. And can’t. So, you know what? I just won’t write anything at all then!  You want to know what I’m doing? Not writing in my status box on Facebook.

That’s what. At least for now.


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