Some days, I hate Facebook. There, I said it. On any given day, a quick scroll through my feed will show me a lot of cute pet photos, great recipes and updates on distant family and friends. Also though, I’ll see the negative stuff. Photos of people who offend us: A bad parking job. An ugly shirt. A weird license plate. Boots in the summer. We’re not talking humorous, we’re talking judgmental, critical commentary. Sometimes of family and friends, but more frequently OF STRANGERS.
Why do we care so much about what others are doing? Why are we so easily offended by those with differing opinions or lifestyles, and why does everything have to be okay with us? Last week, there was a huge uproar because some people felt a “beach body ready” ad was offensive. Seriously. Celebrities everywhere are thin and flaunting it in tight dresses up and down to there, but we still watch them. The Carl’s Jr. ad has a girl in a tiny bikini — are we boycotting Carl’s Jr.? Magazine covers and magazines themselves are devoted to thin people in bikinis or revealing clothing. Why the outrage over a company promoting a product to help people feel better in a bikini if that’s what they want? Should we not promote healthy food because not everyone wants to eat it? Or not talk publicly about a hamburger because I can’t eat beef???
A few days ago I read a post about someone who did a video to ‘help’ an overweight stranger she passed. Again, seriously. Merely passing someone in public doesn’t give anyone the real story about that person, and it made me wonder: do people really do this when we walk outside looking less than our best? (Maybe I do need to buy that beach body ready product so I can be socially acceptable to strangers, so I don’t find myself the subject of some righteous rant online.)
Those are two opposite sides of the coin, but I think that helps explain my feelings that much more: we are only accountable to ourselves and what we want, and we really need to all lighten up. Merely feeling a certain way doesn’t mean others need to, and you should feel strong enough that you aren’t unduly influenced unless you want to be, and people don’t have to live up to our expectations unless it hurts us directly…so your boots in summer don’t hurt me, you know?
Maybe we’re trying to be funny, but at whose expense? I think real life — our own real lives — provide enough humor, but maybe I just have a weird life.
Then there are my feelings on the photos of total strangers. I’m pretty sure that if you said, “Hey, Donna, you aren’t having a good hair day, are you? Do you mind if I take a photo, then put it on Facebook for all my friends and family to see, along with a caption about how maybe you should have just put it in a pony tail?” I would tell you no. So why do we do it without asking? Why does someone deserve to be publicly humiliated without permission, simply because you don’t like them or something they did/said/wore? And are we violating their right to privacy? (What happens if they’re running from an abusive ex and suddenly your photo of them comes across some public feed the ex sees? What happens if someone else sees that same car another time and calls them a name for parking weird? Or if maybe I’ve been ill for days and finally ventured out into public to pick up medicine and didn’t have the energy to fix my hair? We really don’t know what lives other people are leading, so who makes us judge and jury?)
I’m one of those people who parks wayyyy out in the parking lot, and sometimes <gasp> I even take up two spots. Before you start judging, consider that I dropped a mint on body work last year and a slimy loser hit my car and took off. Then look around and see if I’m really hurting you. Notice that I’m so far away from the location that maybe walking would have been easier and no one else — other than people like me, trying to avoid door dings — is going to park out here anyway. I also never do it in a lot with limited space. Never once have I come out and found that my two spots were the last available. Ever. So why do some people post pictures of people who do this? (And how long before I find my car on someone’s social media page with a rant about what a jerk I am?)
Last year, I unfriended someone on Facebook who posted frequent long posts chastising a noisy neighbor for having a backyard bbq at 8pm at night and a graduation party for a teen at, Heaven forbid, 10pm on a Saturday night. Someone parked at the school 30 minutes before school got out!! Call the weirdo police. Another person wore slippers to get gas! I’m sure there are fashion police for that, too. (And this was about 10 days after I’d posted my fashion faux pas of going to get gas and then looking down to see my Isotoner flats, aka slippers, on.) Was she talking about me? Probably not, I don’t think she was being intentionally mean to me but why does it matter what anyone wears to get gas? Unless those slippers are on fire and getting dangerously close to another car or the lady parking at school was driving a 53′ trailer and took up the whole lot.
I don’t get it. I’m not sure whether it’s an attempt to feel better about oneself, or we already do, so we feel we can legitimately critique others. To be clear, I’m not saying I don’t wonder why people wear pajamas in public, even though there’s no way I can find a downside to that which affects me, or why our school parking lot is full of moms/dads at 1:30, when school doesn’t get out until 2:30, but unless I can’t get to the office in an emergency, WHO CARES…not my style to bore everyone with my pettiness.
Being puzzled by some things is completely different from broadcasting our superior position, so what gives? I can’t be the only person out there who thinks there are far better uses of our time and of social media networks than to chastise others or talk about people negatively. I’m not saying I haven’t wondered about that whole boots with shorts looks — honestly, it’s just not me and I don’t think cowboy boots looks any better than Uggs but whatever. I know I was on the receiving end of the judgment when my older two (14 months and five days apart) were small and I used one of those leash backpack things. Whatever, safety first. I was also the recipient of many stares, comments and who knows what else when my youngest son’s autistic meltdowns were at an all-time high and he’d flip out over the humming of the lights in Target. It changed my perspective in a big way; I no longer look at a mom who looks tired, unkempt or unable to control her kid and be judgy. I can’t. It was me, and it wasn’t for anything other than I WAS tired. I had no time to sleep or to fix my hair, and I couldn’t control the meltdowns because, well, autism. I am going to bet there was at least once I wore sweats to the store, maybe even slippers, and I probably parked badly in a rush to get into the school because they’d lost my kid. Again. Always another side to the story, and even if not, I revert to WHO CARES.
Maybe it’s an age thing or maybe I’m just cranky, but I’ve really started lightening the load on my social media feeds. If someone is nasty about others repeatedly, I unfriend. Then they can talk about how their neighbor’s kid played outside for 32 minutes at noon and other important stuff, like me unfriending them or the horrible homeless situation and world violence on their wall and I won’t know. There are too many cats who stand on two legs and dogs playing Twister for me to want to read someone’s complaints about a stranger who wore white after Labor Day or the girl in an ill-fitting bathing suit. Zzzzzzzzzz. That’s just not the kind of person I’d want to be hanging around offline, or “real life,” anyway, so no need to feel hostage to it during my online experience.
Someone had to say it. Be kind online. And off. Stop judging. Trust me, for every person who thinks public cattiness is funny or clever, there are several more who are disappointed in the need to trash talk someone who can’t defend themselves and shouldn’t have to. Like why Princess Kate didn’t use Diana as her baby’s first name or why Selena Gomez’s weight fluctuates.
I’m going to go work on my bikini body now. If you see me and my arms still jiggle, I don’t need an intervention or pity, I already know how I look, but thanks!