Monday, February 25, 2013

Rant: Stop Trying to Help, Facebook

Dear Facebook,

I know how loaded these words are, but ... we need to talk.

You and I have been together for a while now, and I’ll readily admit it was more out of laziness than genuine affection. I was lonely, you were available, it was the twenty-first century. These things happen.

I’ll also confess that I wasn’t as forthcoming with you as I could have been. You asked about my religious and political beliefs. I appreciated the curiosity while wondering how genuine it was. I decided to play it cool, keep it light. I summarized my spiritual values in one sentence – The designated hitter is a sin – and gave my political affiliation as National League, meaning baseball’s senior circuit. I’m such a card.

Truth be told, I have no interest in hearing about politics whenever we get together with our mutual friends, and that’s why I came over all coy. You manage to reduce politics – and pretty much every subject – to the level of NASCAR flash, a series of ostensibly clever images that repurpose statistics and pop culture iconography into visual white noise. During election season I stopped swinging by entirely.

If we’re being brutally honest here, I also hate the cute cat pictures. All the cute animal photos, actually. And I don’t think George Takei’s stuff is funny. There, I said it.

I still visited on a regular basis, but it became a one-way street. Things got ... distant. That’s on both of us.

Yesterday I dropped in. I checked out my page to see what you’d done to the place. And that’s when I realized that you hadn’t gotten one of my little jokes at all.

You see, you’d taken it upon yourself to link my page to the Wikipedia entry on the Irish National League, the home rule political party founded by Charles Stewart Parnell in 1882. Not, as I intended, to the aforementioned senior circuit in Major League Baseball.

I know you didn’t mean it. I know it wasn’t you, but some algorithm you went out and got, probably on an anniversary that I callously forgot, to make things nicer.

But the fact remains – you changed the depiction of my political beliefs without my knowledge or my permission. I suppose I should consider myself lucky that you at least got my heritage correct and didn’t link to one of the many other National Leagues, like the ones in India, Burma, or Poland. (But seriously, have you seen Parnell? Clark Gable as an Irish political leader? It’s terrible. I thought you knew me.)

I’m laying all the cards on the table here, Facebook. I am bitterly disappointed with you. Prospective employers have been known to check with you before making hiring decisions; crazy, I know, but such is the age we live in. And in your effort to be helpful, to paint what you erroneously believe to be the most thorough picture of me, you get me all wrong. You depict me as someone carrying a grudge about events that transpired generations ago.

And you did this without asking me.

Strangely, I don’t care if prospective employers go to my Facebook page and see the content I post there, the vast majority of which is about cocktail consumption. Because I chose to put that information there. Because that represents, for good or ill, an accurate depiction of my character.

You turned a joke into a political statement, one that I never intended to make. And you did it without my consent.

I’ll continue to come around, more out of habit that genuine interest. But I’ll be very careful about what I say from now on, and I certainly won’t be taking any of your suggestions about which businesses to patronize. If you keep acting all Skynet on me, I may not share anything with you anymore.

Ireland Forever and Let’s Go Mets,