A year into the experiment, I've developed a certain appreciation for Facebook. There is something nice about being in touch, however tenuously, with so many people. Yet there's one feature that irks me to no end: the status update.
What's on your mind?
Asked of the wrong person, that simple question can be as risky as handing a microphone to a politician. A few of my friends are as witty on Facebook as they are in real life, and others are consistently interesting. By and large, though, the rest are a stultifying parade of inanity.
There's enough saccharine on Facebook to supply a Pepsi plant for a year. Some days it's like reading a rack of Hallmark cards or a Family Circus collection. After half an hour, I stagger away sweaty and jittery, my temples throbbing.
It's strange how often people post about food: what they just ate, what they're about to eat, what they wish they were eating. One friend, during a period of unemployment, passed his time making elaborate dinners and posting descriptions thereof. I thought his updates would gain interest when he found a job; alas, he turned into a human calendar: "Another week begins..."; "looking forward to a productive and quick Tuesday"; "Productive Thursday at work. Hope Friday's as good."
And then there are the ones who change their status several times a day, as if subconsciously determined to prove their lives duller than everyone else's. This is what I imagine Twitter to be like. And Hell.
Recently, as I lovingly stroked the remaining shreds of my sanity, I made a life-changing discovery: You can make a personal blacklist, secretly blocking offenders' posts from your home page. Salvation!
When I was little, my mother advised: "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all." I didn't take it to heart, obviously, but that won't stop me from suggesting a paraphrased version for Facebook: If you don't have something interesting to say, sit on your hands until the urge to share has passed.