Yesterday, when I signed into Facebook, I came across yet another epistle full of maniac praise for some family member, which closed with the Share if You have A….
It, along with the screeds that feature a nice little paragraph of passive aggressive emotional manipulation along the lines of “I know most of you won’t read this, and only my true friends will, copy and paste to your wall, don’t share”. I don’t know who came up with this formulation but they should be stripped of access to social media. It is corrosive stuff. You often find it at the end of a hectoring lecture about knowing people who suffer from, usually, cancer. I hate it.
In many respects, Facebook is a great tool. It’s just, sometimes it gets monumentally abused by people who don’t seem to do much self examination. This week in particular, I got a lot of the two stylees above, but I also seemed to have a few friends sharing a lot of viral self help nonsense.
I’ve had years of people sharing this kind of stuff with me. What I have worked out is the following:
- You’re not allowed to be disappointed.
- You’re not allowed to complain.
- Everything wrong in your life is your fault anyway
- Whatever you’re doing, it’s wrong, so the fact that things continue to be wrong is still your fault anyway.
- Be positive. Otherwise everything is your fault.
- Avoid negative people. They only drag you down.
- If you don’t like what you’re doing, shut up and accept it and convince yourself you like it. You’ll be happier.
They dress it up in flowery language of course, so you don’t realise that you’re basically being told to shut up and stop annoying people. This isn’t really all that helpful, because sometimes, it’s good to talk, work things out. Three is probably a straight out lie, along with its brother four. There is some scientific evidence to suggest that 5 probably isn’t as helpful either – iirc Be realistic is likely to be more constructive than being positive.
Six is a sop to one and two. Sometimes you’ll need support even if you convince yourself you won’t because you’re dealing with stuff man. I find it’s good to provide support and do some listening to people who are having a rough time. This presumes that we’re not talking first world problems like the wifi being down.
Seven is an expression of privilege. Variants of it exist in the idea that people would be fully healthy if they only had the right mental attitude. The world doesn’t work like that and my experience is that people who are happy to dole out the kind of advice that amounts to “Lie to yourself” have never had to lie to themselves.
My personal summary of advice in rough times is this:
- Identify what is wrong
- Figure out how to change it.
- Talk out ideas if you have to.
In the meantime, anything vaguely viral in the advice and manipulation front on Facebook, I ignore it.