According to the latest study, the average American spends 7 hours and 45 minutes a month on Facebook. That is the equivalent of a typical work day, a good night's sleep, or a trip to IKEA.*
*If you've ever made it out of IKEA in under 8 hours and $500, then you're clearly a witch..
Facebook, Twitter, "Hipster-Gram" and their ilk seem innocuous enough, but let's face it; they are just a socially acceptable form of stalking. And for someone like me who is so goddamned nosy I make Gladys Kravitz look like Boo Radley, well, let's just say that Facebook is my raison d'etre. But there are limits, y'all. Scrolling through someone's vacation photos? Fine. Commenting on their witty Grumpy Cat meme? Perfectly OK. But when you find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time trolling the Facebook page and Twitter feed of your significant other's ex, or downloading pictures of other people's children, then your life is probably about as empty as Charlie Sheen's wine cellar and it's time to step away from the keyboard and onto a therapist's couch.*
*It's lonely out there on the grassy knoll, yo.
I know a lot of people (a few of them QUITE well) who use Facebook as a free version of Match.com; flipping through the photos of their friends' friends, hoping to stumble across that one profile pic that has their nether regions quivering with joy. But Facebook can be deceiving, y'all. I have two words for you: Manti T'eo. Be ever vigilant to the fact that the 23 year old Victoria's Secret model with whom you are chatting could well be a 57 year old Best Buy employee with a beard and an overbite. Unless you want Nev and Max knocking on your door with their camcorder and faux empathy, then I suggest you keep your correspondence PG-13, Catfish.
But for all it's foibles and douchebaggery, for the most part, Facebook is what Zuckerberg intended: Social Media.
"Demented and sad. . .but social."
And as with any other social gathering, you will find that most people fall into very specific subtypes. For example. . .
THE ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVIST
God knows, I love animals, and I am the last one to wish ill will on any living being. . .*
*Except for snakes. Because. . .fuck snakes.
But when I'm sitting at my desk, about to take a bite of my pork belly sandwich and dirty fries from Lardo, the last thing I need to see is a color photo of Babe getting cornholed with a taser. Yes, I know there's cruelty and mistreatment of animals, and I understand that every time I take a bite of chicken or order a Denver omelet I am just one more cog in the Orwellian industrial machine, but in my defense animals can be real assholes. Have you ever seen an episode of 'Animal Face-Off'? Trust me, after you've watched a gorilla go all Wes Craven on a tiger you won't be so quick to start signing with him over banana daquiris. Do I think animals should be protected? Absolutely. Do I think they should have rights? Not so much. When we live in a world where women are still not allowed to vote or own property, where people die of curable conditions simply because they lack access to medical care, and where children are abused and neglected because there is no one to advocate for them, then the fact that L'Oreal is testing Frost-n-Tip on bunnies just isn't on my freaking radar. I choose my battles wisely, y'all. And if it's a choice between a possible cure for a child's cancer and liberating some lab rodent, then Ratatouille can go pound sand.
THE 'WINE AND YOGA PANTS' MOMMY
I know that these cartoons and sites like "Mommy Needs a Cocktail" and "I'm Going to Flip the Susan Smith Switch If I Don't Start Doing Jager Bombs" are meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but when I see you post nine times in a six-hour time frame about your desperation to start binge-drinking at soccer practice then I'm gonna throw down more 12 Steps than a contestant on 'So, You Think You Can Dance'.*
*And, on a side note, enough with the goddamned yoga pants in public. If you have time to go on Facebook and post about how you don't have time to put on real pants, then YOU HAVE TIME TO PUT ON REAL PANTS! Don't make me go all Tim Gunn on your Lycra-clad ass.
If the internet is to be believed, all mothers are so consumed by sturm and drang that the only possible relief comes from ingesting enough alcohol to anesthetize a yeti, lest we go upside our children's heads like Bobby Brown on Whitney.*
*R.I.P. Ms. Houston.
Personally, I find this sentiment to be offensive. Are my short people annoying? Sometimes. Are there times where I think I'll lose my shit if I play one more game of 'Go Fish'? You betcha. But 90% of the time (well, maybe closer to 80%), I genuinely like hanging out with my kids; they are smart, and funny, and self-sufficient, and usually they smell pretty good.*
*Except when they smell like ass and cheese.
Trust me, I understand the urge to drink. I made a solid ten year commitment to bitch-slapping my liver, but my children were not what made me drink, my children were what made me sober. So, if you're REALLY that driven to beer-bong that bottle of Turning Leaf Chardonney at 3:00pm, you might want to do a little self-actualization. But before I start spouting out random nuggets of lifestyle advice and Big Book adages like some autistic Dr. Phil, let me simply state that it is a slippery slope from posting eCards about vodka and minivans to being the hot mess on the bench in stained yoga pants screaming "Peyton, NO! That's Mommy's 'special' juice!"
THE 'LOOK WHAT I MADE FOR DINNER!' POSTER
Stop. Seriously. Just. . .stop.
"FACE"BOOK SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN LITERALLY
Attention. Approval. Adulation. It is a substance so addictive it makes crystal meth look like Splenda, and whether or not we choose to admit it, the majority of us spend a greater part of our life in pursuit of that one moment when someone beams down and assures us that "we is kiiiiiind, we is gooooooood, we is important". The quest for attention has led people to such spectadular act of douchebaggery as auditioning for "The Real World", marrying a Menendez brother, or starting a blog.*
*Please like me.
And nowhere is self-aggrandization more fully embraced than on one's Facebook timeline. We all have that one "friend". The one who posts Instagrammed iPad close-ups of their face every. Damned. Day. You scroll through their timeline photos and it becomes like some circa-1950's Disney flipbook as picture after picture of their beaming visage stares back at you, regardless of the accompanying post.
"Lunch with the girls at Cafe Blase. Yummers!"
"Jake and Chloe just made junior varsity soccer! SO proud of my kiddos."
"After nine grueling surgeries, Grandpa finally died after bleeding out on the operating table. His last words were that he wished he could have made amends with his children. Today we are all reeling at the fragility of life."
I'm not saying you shouldn't feel free to post the occasional picture showing off your sassy new haircut or proving to the men in your life that those nasty cold sores have cleared up, but when you're more over-exposed than an albino at Club Med then it's time to stop and smell the neuroses, my friend. Remember, there's no 'I' in 'Facebook', but there are three in 'narcissistic'.
As aforementioned, I love Facebook like Rihanna loves Chris Brown: blindly, passionately, but with a healthy dose of fear and trepidation. For me, Facebook has been a means of connecting with old college friends, keeping in touch with my grad school homies as we start our careers in many and sundry ends of the earth, and reminding myself (whilst reading late-night posts so incoherent they make Courtney Love sound like Margaret Thatcher) exactly why I no longer drink. But every now and then I have to step back and reassess exactly what I'm putting out there in the world.*
*Hence the reason people are no longer able to post directly to my wall without approval. Suffice to say, some "friends" in the past have abused the privilege and I'm just not sure I want my family clicking on my page to see a cartoon of some dude getting his salad tossed by a Japanese schoolgirl.
Urban Dictionary-dot-com: TOSSED SALAD. My apologies in advance)
So, every now and then, stop to reassess. . .clean house, if you will, and look at your Facebook page as though you were your grandmother, or a potential employer. And remember the cardinal rule: If you don't want anyone to know about it, DON'T PUT IT ON FACEBOOK.*
*Or. . .you know. . .just don't freaking do it in the first place, Dipshit.
And every few months or so, stop to look at who your "friends" really are. If you're like most of us, 30-40% of them genuinely care about your life and your well-being. The rest are just curious.