By: Bisma Tirmizi
Do we have to take every status update seriously when our Facebook page is just an audience of friends?
Writers, journalists, thinkers, authors, poets, the blessed few in the seven billion and counting, are blasé about their by-lines and aware that they have had a global audience even before the internet, Twitter and, the grandfather of all social media, Facebook. They have commented on society, its underbelly and the universe that surrounds it. They have been persecuted for it, killed for it, awarded for it, famed for it — thus been there, done that! However, what about our fledgling masses, our Facebook celebrities who are learning to handle their ‘by-line’ and fame while still learning the ropes?
The social media network has become serious business; that is to say, most take it very seriously. The seasoned ones out there understand that every status update is not meant to target a friend, and I use the term friend very broadly. It is not a judgement call; it is not a humiliating tactic; but simply a status update. One of my recent benign status updates, “No great philosopher or Sufi, just me, my son, a lingering peck, beautiful morning light, my kitchen, great music, a little bit of swing, cooking — homespun happiness! Yeah!” created tension amongst a few. Here is the critique: ‘it implies condescension, she is calling herself, her house and spouse (note, I wrote son) better than ours, she thinks she knows dance, music and cooking better than us, and the icing — she is telling us she does not have to spend money to be happy’. I derive great pleasure in the fact that people (friends) can be twisted and self involved. Sure, my every status update and comment is about you.
My observation as a professional writer is that most people do not update or like statuses due to the fear of being judged by their friends. My question: where is their sense of humour? When did the doctor start prescribing uptight instead of chill pill? Or is it simply that we can’t handle our celebrity image, up close and personal? I think our fledgling Facebook celebrities have misconstrued the social network for online or print newspaper where the audience is the world. A reminder: your Facebook page is apparently an audience of friends, and not the world at large.
On the flip side, we have amongst us Facebook celebrities who think their friends are their fans, and in some cases, paparazzi. They update their airbrushed photographs ever so often, get their looks altered to look prettier than the rest and then wait with bated breath to read comments like ‘beautiful couple’, ‘gorgeous’, ‘awwww… you look so awesome’, ‘wow… the best ever’, etc.
Why can’t we just zip it? Every picture should not evoke a nauseatingly positive response. These celebrities have status updates every few hours and not some nugget of wisdom, achievement or some random thought provoking statement, but stuff like ‘I went to the bathroom’, ‘I am eating’ and ‘I am sweating’. You, my dear, are not Angelina Jolie.
One of my pet peeves, the preachy one, updated: ‘My beauty is for my husband’, followed by ten reasons why women need to be modest, all the while posting a seductive profile picture of the self sans the husband. Most of us have couples as friends, married or otherwise. They may be living together, may have the convenience of private texting, cell phones, private Facebook message, email and a bedroom at home, but the undying love has to be declared in a public message on Facebook.
Pointedly most are under the impression that Facebook should operate without etiquette; why so? Because, as I was told recently, it is an opinion forum; but then again, so is the world. Does that mean we run amuck with our opinions, appearance and affections unfriending friends and lovers as we grudgingly trudge along, or maybe wait for the Facebook frenzy to work itself out until the arrival of the next big thing?
Ironically ‘mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all’, once considered the downfall of Snow White’s stepmother, is the call of the time. If the Face on the book is not the prettiest, thinnest, richest, then it’s not a Face at all. Remember, it will always remain a pleasant face if it’s the real one, sans complexes and conflicts. Take it easy, Facebook is supposed to be fun; don’t be a celebrity, be yourself.