We’ve all seen the dreaded posts on our Facebook timelines:
“Like this photo or get ten years of bad luck!”
“Share this post and pass on a hug – I bet most of you won’t!”
“If you don’t comment and share this picture, all the evil of Pandora’s Box will fall on your head!”
Not to date myself, but… gag me with a spoon.
I thought with the death of sending letters through snail mail, the extinction of chain letters would also come about – wrong! Oh, so very wrong! It feels like the age-old tradition of chain mail has mutated into chain posts, chain comments, and chain messages – and it’s quickly spiraling out of control.
Recently, the trend has been to “test” your friends with these asinine posts. “Look at those who take the time to read to the very end and comment,” they all say. “Those are your true friends!”
Are they? Are they really your true friends? Is this how you judge the quality of your friendship?
What if you’re stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire? Are you going to turn to the people who commented on your Facebook post, and nobody else? What about bail money? Are they going to send you bail money? Or better yet, be right there in the cell with you after a weekend of debauchery.
What about this scenario: you need someone to talk to because you’re having a hard day. Your friend can see that you’re struggling, so they approach you and ask what’s wrong. Before you say a word, you hold up your finger and open the Facebook app. You check your post and see that this person never commented on it. “Sorry,” you say. “You’re not a true friend that I can confide in. You never commented on my “if you’re a true friend” post from this morning.”
None of us (at least, I hope none of us) would screen our friends like that in real life. So why subject our friends to that screening process on the internet?
Attention – that’s why. People love to get the likes, shares, comments, and conversations around their posts. They feel good when people notice them, and it’s completely fine to want to feel noticed. Until it’s taken it to this unhealthy level.
I recently came across this post on my Facebook timeline:
Too. Far. It used to be an annoying fad, but now it’s crossed the line.
To be clear, the person who made this post was not recently (or ever, as far as I’m aware) diagnosed with cancer. Why on earth would they want to worry their friends in this way? Someone very near and dear to me died from cancer. I mourn his loss still… it’s fresh in my heart, like it was yesterday. I have loved ones who have lost their battle. I have more who still struggle against cancer daily. I’m sure we all know someone. Cancer is an insidious disease that touches just about everyone in some way or another. Just because it’s common doesn’t make it fair game for ludicrous social media posts.
Do you know what a real friend would do if they read this post on your timeline? They would stop reading after the very first sentence. Their heart would leap into their throat, their stomach would twist into knots, and adrenaline would start rushing through their veins. They wouldn’t comment; they would be too busy picking up the phone to call you and ask if you were okay or if there was anything they could do to support you. That’s what a real friend does in a time of crisis – they reach out in real life.
If they made it through the whole post, heart in their throat, only to realize it’s a “trick,” a true friend might still reach out… if for no other reason than to slap you silly for posting such a ridiculous thing.
I understand that we love our social media. I understand that many jokes and pranks will be circulated with a few hundred thousand clicks. But please, for the love of all things good and pure, think before you post. Don’t mislead your friends and family with attention-seeking fodder, just to give yourself a nanosecond of happiness when someone comments on your post. And do not ever joke about cancer.
Try posting something worth sharing instead. You really want to raise awareness and honor those who have battled cancer in the past? Go to the Fuck Cancer organization – post their message on your Facebook timeline, and make a real difference with the content you share with your “true” friends.