The way we comport ourselves online – the act of curation and calibration that goes along with every linkshare and retweet, every photo post and reblog across multiple platforms – creates a composite of our online selves. Learning how to manage those different personae has become a prerequisite for success online. This almost by necessity means that our authentic humanity is shielded behind the content we generate.
Facebook, in many ways, has become the home for a particularly interesting act of content curation. Between the posts that seemingly describe our friends at their best – always looking great, doing really fun stuff, probably having more money than you – and the eye-rolling reactionary politics posts, there’s a subset of posts that focuses on people talking about feelings.
This is a very strange experience, because talking about feelings is uncomfortable for a lot of people. When people decide to post about how they feel, they have an opportunity to share something meaningful – or something else entirely.
Vaguebooking is – quite possibly – the worst
Not everyone seems to be adept at managing this. Everyone has a friend who either shares their most intimate details online (true story – I had a friend in university who just casually dropped a complaint about her genital herpes into a Facebook post about student loan debt) or fills your feed with one-sentence updates about something on TV (get on Twitter, you donkey). None of these acts compare to the true horror of history’s greatest crime – vaguebooking.
I think vaguebooking is the most transparently disgusting behavior that we, as a culture, have allowed to flourish online. The compulsive cultivation of identity gives people anxiety, and because they crave affirmation, they talk in generalities to coerce people into commenting so they don’t feel alone.
No one cares, Sandra
It is the equivalent of the girl in everyone’s history class who pretended to get upset by the section on World War 2 as if it came as a surprise to her that people died, war is senseless and not everyone could be saved like Matt Damon. We get it, Sandra, the gas chambers were terrible, but you didn’t freak out during the Cambodia unit when we talked about Pol Pot.
Why do we tolerate this? If we had friends who engaged in such blatant emotional vampirism in real life, would we willfully accept their behavior? Think about running into Sandra at a party (by the way, all of the following Sandra dialogue is pulled directly from Facebook posts I found on my feed from people not named Sandra, edited for spelling and grammar because it was painful enough to read the first time):
You: Hey, Sandra, how are you?
Sandra: Wondering if it’s all worth it…
You: Wow, sorry! What’s wrong?
Sandra: Life is overwhelming, heavy is the head that lies the crown. I love to be the one to disappoint you when I don’t fall down.
You: Sandra, I’m a bit confused. What are talking about here?
Sandra: It sucks when friends betray you.
You: What are you implying? Did I betray you somehow?
Sandra: Sometimes it feels like no one cares.
You: Honestly, what the fuck? I started this goddamn conversation by asking you how you were doing!
You: Go fuck yourself, Sandra.
I understand that people want to be private to a degree – but you can’t have it both ways. All that vaguebooking does is waste everyone’s time and illustrate that you are an individual who doesn’t care or respect others enough to actually articulate yourself while nakedly craving attention. This is the equivalent of the toddler crying for no reason.
When we allow this, we submit to a lack of authenticity, a lack of reason and we subsume what Facebook is for – sharing videos of cats with your aunts, crying about the latest Star Wars trailer and trying to remember not to swear because your mom reads all of your posts and she does not like that kind of language, young man.
So here’s my new rule for vaguebooking – though this applies across the board to all of your fave Twitters and Instagrams and Google+hahaIcan’tkeepgoingnooneisonGoogle+s – when you see a vaguebooking in progress, tell a friend. Then tell that friend all the mean, insensitive things you want to write underneath that post. Laugh, then hide that person.
We can’t let these bloodsuckers win.