The Cryptic Facebook Cliffhanger

2 minute read

I think some people treat Facebook like it’s a prayer chain. Maybe Facebook is the modern day incarnation of a prayer chain but some people seem to have the Facebook prayer chain on speed dial. If I worked on a prayer chain and the same 4 people called every other day, I’d begin to think maybe they were just being selfish. It must be a big enough problem because someone wrote an entire blog post about the 7 ways to be insufferable on Facebook (as if there were only 7). I think the cryptic cliffhanger is the most annoying but I could be convinced otherwise without much effort. Of course, if we stopped being insufferable on Facebook, our news feed would be lonely like Tombstone right before the OK Corral. The trouble is most of us are only really interested in ourselves. Oh we read our Facebook feed but all we really want to see there are pictures of kittens and George Takei updates. We aren’t interested in the brag, humble or otherwise, of someone we haven’t talked to in 23 years but whose friend request we accepted blindly one night when we had had 4 glasses of scotch too many.

And this is the core problem of Facebook as a “social” media. It’s a dirty little secret but Facebook isn’t that social. If it were, our friend list would be much shorter, just like it is in real life. If someone did nothing but tell us how awesome their life was without ever actually asking us how we were doing, we’d unfriend them by throat punching them. Ok, maybe that’s a little harsh but the idea is sound. If someone said to me IRL “Tomorrow is going to be big, pray for me”, I’d think they were attention whores. And unfriend them by removing their number from my phone.

The first sign that Facebook isn’t actually about friendship is the number of people we have as “friends”. The anthropologist Robin Dunbar proposed an idea “that humans can only comfortably maintain 150 stable relationships.” We just can’t keep up with many more than that. Yet we have Facebook friends that number in the thousands. Wha? People with more than 250 friends are either young (the original Facebook target market), running a business, using Facebook as a version of Linked In but with pictures of kittens or are very lonely. That’s just a personal theory.

Tomorrow is going to be big though. Keep me in your prayers.