We all complain about Facebook – from privacy issues to the lack of a “dislike” button to strange-acting news feeds. But there are a few other things I see all the time on Facebook that bother me even more.
Chain letters. You remember chain letters that came in the mail. You had to mail out a certain number of copies by a certain date or risk dire consequences. Or maybe you were supposed to send $1 to the next person on the list and eventually receive thousands in return. Some of them even required saying of a certain number of prayers in exchange for blessings from God (or more specific payoffs).
(God and angels are not fairy godmothers. They’re not in the business of granting wishes.)
I never liked these when they came in the mailbox and I like them even less online. In addition to those standard types are ones requiring the reader to cut and paste a paragraph into his or her own timeline and see how many people respond. (For some reason simple sharing is not allowed.)
I don’t see the point of these, especially when they say “I know who will pass this on and who will not.” If you already know, why bother posting the thing at all?
Ridiculous pass-alongs. Somehow the most annoying of these are the pass-alongs that say if you have a granddaughter/niece/dog /service member/victim of cancer in your family you love with all your heart, share this picture of a candle or a ribbon or a flag. Nearly everyone qualifies for one or more of those, but passing around the images is kind of pointless. An actual picture of said granddaughter/niece. etc. would make more sense. One or two. Not thousands.
Also pointless are the ones that say share if you hate cancer or pass this on if you disapprove of animal abuse. Who’s going to admit they like cancer or heartily approve of animal abuse?
If you look closely at some of these memes – as well as the humorous ones – you will find that they originate at radio stations. You can tell by the call letters. Why do radio stations care about cancer or animal abuse? They don’t. They are doing what is called “like-farming.”
Since online music streaming, iTunes and iPods, internet radio stations and podcasts, and services like SiriusXM, radio stations have fallen on hard times. In order to charge more to advertisers, the stations must prove that they have listeners – responsive listeners at that. By putting a meme online that everyone will want to like and share, they are proving that their station gets attention – not for its music, however.
Famous characters. Nowadays we see beloved icons of our childhood – primarily cartoon characters – being used to support assorted social and political causes, or just to deliver some lame-ass joke. The creators of Kermit the Frog, Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang, and Calvin and Hobbes certainly never intended their characters to be used as vehicles for assorted, sometimes controversial, opinions. (Charles Schulz would probably have been okay with the religious memes.)
If a company like MetLife wants to use Peanuts characters in its advertising, they have to – and do – pay large amounts of money. Not so for the people who create Facebook memes. And they largely get away with it. Internet memes are so anonymous that it can take forever to figure out whom to sue.
And while we’re on the subject, I am so bloody tired of the Minions. These repulsive blobs appear everywhere, commenting on everything, joking about any topic. They are this millennium’s Smurfs, only yellow. The jokes or sayings aren’t even that funny usually, but apparently someone thinks that having a Minion presenting it will improve the humor.
Click bait. Ever since Ye Olde days of newspapers and magazines, headlines have been meant to draw readers into an article. But at least they gave some idea what the article was going to be about. Not so anymore. Headlines of the variety “A person did this and you won’t believe what happened next” appear on news feeds with stunning regularity.
Again, as with like-farming, this is simply meant to raise the number of click-throughs and generate excess interest for a story that’s not really all that fascinating.
I particularly dislike headlines of the sort that say “You’ve been doing X wrong for years” (eating sushi, flossing) or “What’s the best time of day to x?” (drink water, take vitamins). Someone somewhere thinks they know better than we do. What’s the best time to drink water? How about when you’re thirsty?
But if you really don’t want me to read your article, your meme, your opinion, or your joke, there’s a really easy way to do that – make it unreadable. Professional graphic designers and typographers make mistakes that render their efforts futile. Imagine what can be done in the way of illegibility by someone with no training at all.
So I beg of you – if you want to put an inspirational saying atop a lovely nature picture, by all means do so. But check out the color of the picture and the color of the type you’re using. White type on a light blue or pink background is not suitable even for those whose eyes aren’t failing. Screen captures are also notoriously hard to read. I know you can blow them up but it’s a real pain and most of the time I don’t find it worth the effort. I scroll right by.
Sometimes I don’t know why I bother with Facebook at all. Probably for the videos of kittens and pandas.