If the Trump era taught us anything about social media, it’s that people feel free to say whatever they damn well please so long as they can say it with their fingers from behind the protection of a screen. For a while, Facebook felt like an ongoing skirmish at the Mason-Dixon Line. Family members and old friends jabbed at each other across the line before retreating back to their sides unscathed. Shame the same can’t be said about the relationship, though. The space seems to have mellowed a bit (or maybe I’ve just unfriended and unfollowed enough people that I now have a curated page with little political chicanery). Unfortunately, this does not filter out ignorant, annoying, self-righteous commenters responding to benign posts and memes.
There’s always a person who responds to celebrity posts, whether positive or negative, with “who?” As if a person can survive in the present-day First World with social media and screens flooding our eyeballs everywhere we go, and not know who these people are. They act like they’ve never heard of Michelle Obama or Sandra Bullock, Oprah Winfrey or George Clooney. As if we’re going to believe them. Of course they KNOW who they are. They just want to appear nonchalant and uncaring because they think it somehow belittles the celebrity and adds an attractive aloofness to their personality. The reality is that it makes them look like an ass. No offense to donkeys. I like donkeys.
Then there are the grammar police. Policing other people’s grammar is classist and ableist, and just plain rude. I hate the grammar police. But they do offer up humor once in a while. Using “I would of” instead of “I would have” when correcting someone else’s grammar is one of the more ridiculous examples of someone not quite grasping the irony of their behavior.
What about the people who respond solely with emojis? Modern day hieroglyphics. I haven’t quite decided how I feel about them yet. The advantage is that one leaves out the possibility of a grammar infraction by answering with an image. Perhaps that is the motivation.
I’ve seen them less these days, but there are still occasionally the “pompous agitators.” These are the people who respond to political or social justice posts with long lists of random statistics and references to their training and experiences (whether credentialed or imaginary is anyone’s guess) as facts for their viewpoint. These people may sometimes get the last word. Still, it’s typically not because they’ve used logic to claim the victory. It’s usually just a lack of interest from the others involved or exhaustion from trying to refute absurdity.
Of all the social media commenters, I relish most the distant family members and old friends who comment like you all share heart-to-hearts every week and go on vacations together every year. In reality, you may not have seen or spoken to this person in the last twenty years. The weaving of devotion and depth of intimacy into their comments may be fake or an exaggeration of an old connection, but in this day in age, when there is so much meanness on the internet, a little phony love is better than real hate, I guess.