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Facebook newsfeed etiquette. Or why I don’t want to see your stitches.

Alright let’s face it people, Facebook is pretty awesome. It’s a way to connect, mobilize, advertise and entertain. But the problem with every good invention is the people who use it. Here are some newsfeed items that drive me up the wall.*

1. Pictures of your wounds
I like to peruse my Facebook newsfeed as much as the next person. I enjoy scrolling and seeing interesting article, cool song, hilarious unlikely animal friendship picture and then <record screech> your gaping, infected wound.

When did it become ok to show people your wounds? You don’t go on the train in the morning and say, “hey guys, you want to see my infected stitches?” Because it’s gross right? So why is it ok to show to me?

I wonder if soldiers injured during WWII thought, “man, this gunshot wound is horrible. I hope it heals. But not before I show it to 500 of my closest friends”.

Simply put, posting your marathon time? Awesome. Posting pictures of your bruised and broken toenail from marathon training? Thumbs down!

2. Pictures of your naked kid
Remember the days when parents would embarrass their son or daughter by showing their new partner some naked baby pictures of them?

In 20 years, the conversation might go more like this.

Mom: Johnny was so cute when he was little. Want to see some pictures of him when he was being toilet trained?
New girlfriend: That’s ok, I already saw them. On the internet.

That’s right parents. Let’s play a little more hard to get.

3. Ultrasound pictures
Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with ultrasound pictures. They’re pretty medically important. I don’t even mind seeing them on your fridge. You know, because we’re actually friends,  I’m in your house opening your fridge after all.

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But when I haven’t seen you in ages and we are just acquaintances, it’s not ok for me to see the inside of your uterus. I know you’re excited and you want to announce to all your “friends” that a human being is growing inside of you. But remember, you are showing us your medical information (located on the top band of the photos). Oh yeah, and you’re also showing us INSIDE YOUR BODY. Is nothing sacred?

4. Your multiple photoshoots
I am so happy that you got married. I might even have been at your wedding, blowing those ridiculous bubbles for you when you walked down the aisle. I even like seeing a few photos from your big day. But do you have to inundate us with the multiple photoshoots?

There was your engagement photoshoot, your wedding photos, your “trash the dress” photoshoot (don’t even get me started on that), your maternity photoshoot, the newborn photoshoot and the newly fashionable “cake smash photoshoot”.

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Yes, I just heard of this one the other day. You hire a professional photographer to take pictures of your baby smashing in a cake on their first birthday. You know we are first world gluttons when we pay someone to take pictures of our kid destroying food. I can only imagine what my relatives overseas would think of this. If they find puppy obedience school insane, I’m sure the cake smash won’t go over very well with them.

I have to wonder, if there was no Facebook would we so obsessively document our milestones? If there was no audience, would we have the desire to share so much?

Let’s narrate this to show what’s really going on.

“I really don’t want my wedding dress to go to waste, so instead of donating it to charity or saving it for my own daughter, I’m going to wreck it by laying in some mud and water. I totally think 100s of people are going to want to see this”.

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“I am 8 months pregnant, I feel like I am the first person who has ever done this before, maybe I’ll even be the last. I just HAVE to have pictures of my husband’s hands on my belly in the forest. After all, if a woman is pregnant in the forest and 100s of people don’t see it, is she even really pregnant?”

I could totally go on but I still want friends after I publish this post.

5. Too many selfies.
It seems that the easier it is to take pictures of ourselves, the more often we do it. Imagine during the 80s, if someone constantly took Polaroid photos of themselves in their bathroom, then carried them around to show people. I think the occasional self portrait is fine, I just don’t want to see you age in real time.

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The moral of the story: just because it’s easier to do now, doesn’t mean it’s less weird.

I’m not sure if these pet peeves of mine will ever change, nor do I think people will ever really stop doing them. Maybe I’ll just petition to Facebook to have 2 separate newsfeeds. Or at least an extra optional ones for the wounds.

* this doesn’t mean I don’t want to be friends with you anymore, it just means that some days you make me throw up a little bit in my mouth.

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Posted by on April 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Just Plane Picky

Will selecting our seatmates enhance our flying experience?

It was 1986 and I was riding on a bus to Regina with my mom. The girl across from us, Penny, was in her late teens. She gave me a penny to remember her name and let me listen to her walkman. The song blaring through the headphones was “Walking on Sunshine” and I still remember that bus ride whenever I hear that song.

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It was that chance meeting with Penny that began my fascination with meeting strangers on planes, busses or trains. With serendipity at work, you never know who you’ll meet, what information you will gain from or pass along to them, what memory you’ll be left with decades later.

Making skies friendlier?

After reading Nicola Clark’s New York Times’ article, “Selecting a Seatmate to Make Skies Friendlier”, I started to think about how social media could potentially affect our plane rides. With KLM Airline’s “Meet & Seat”, you can find out who will be on your flight prior to boarding by viewing other passengers’ Facebook or LinkedIn profile details. You can then choose your seat accordingly. Planely, another similar platform, states that it’s launching a “social flying revolution” where you can plan a “social flying experience”. While airlines allow you to pick a seat, they do not allow you to pick a seatmate. Planely aims to solve this issue. After entering your flight details you can use Planely to see others with overlapping itineraries, look for neighbors with the same general interests and contact those who are staying at the same hotel as you, so you can arrange to share a cab (or maybe find a stalker).

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More than checkboxes

Judging from the number of times I’ve sat across from friends trying to figure out why their relationships weren’t working even though “he’s so good on paper”, I can tell that human interactions are not just about what boxes we check off. While it all seems very convenient to construct our interactions this way, it does not always work. I have been on planes around the world and sat with people I should have had lots in common with but the conversation fizzled quickly. Conversely on recent flights, I’ve met a bank auditor, a professional poker player and a retired couple who were heading away for the winter. Given the choice, I probably wouldn’t have opted to sit with them but was glad that I did.

Unfortunately, not every seatmate has been a pleasant surprise. There are the seat kickers, the tiny bladders, the snorers, the drinkers. A woman in front of me reclined her chair back so far that her hair dangled over my food. However experiences like that can teach us patience, or even better, allow us to engage in some conflict resolution.

Experiences aside, will Planely and Meet and Seat affect our social skills? With everything so conveniently laid out for us, will we stop using our social cues to see if someone is interested in talking to us or would rather be left alone? After all, “they did check in saying they’d like to chat…”

The “I can’t read clues” blues

Platforms like this may undermine our ability to read non-verbal cues. Of course it requires generalizing but I can use lots of clues to see if we have anything common. The Lonely Planet Guide to wherever you’re highlighting, the baby socks you are knitting, the fact that you’re wearing a Packers Jersey and watching, “When Harry Met Sally” on a portable DVD player. All these things give me reasons to talk or not to talk to someone near me. His/her reception to me helps me know whether I should keep talking or stop.

I am not quite sure when life became about avoiding every inconvenience or awkward situation. For every time I’ve had my seat kicked repeatedly or sat beside someone who asked for “one more glass of wine”; I have also met someone with a list of books I should read, or had a baby peek between the seats and giggle.

Or had someone play me a song like “Walking on Sunshine” for the very first time.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on January 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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