Throughout history, American society has become progressively tackier. The Victorian era is long gone. Clothes are now skimpy. Cars and soda cups are huge and gaudy. Even porn has managed to get tackier. In the 17th century, men jacked off to paintings of naked Greek goddesses and angels (I heard about this in an Art History class). Nowadays, porn features distasteful things like horses, fat men, extreme genital close-ups and poop.
But, in this tacky era, it’s still possible for a person to be too tacky, especially when that person is updating his/her Facebook status.
In particular, I’ve been seeing a lot of death in Facebook statuses lately. If you know someone who has died, it is nice to send the family some food and a condolences note. But you should not, under any circumstance, update your Facebook status like so: “Amy is PRAYING FOR THE JOHNSON FAMILY. R.I.P JERRY, ENJOY HEAVEN.” I have seen two statuses like this hypothetical one in the past week alone. Exploiting someone’s death so that you appear sensitive is a strange and horrible thing to do. Do you really think that the Johnson family will feel better when they see how cheap Jerry’s memory is, with his public condolences note in your Newsfeed under the photos from your Secretary Hoes party?
A more crass example is the Qassam Counts used by supporters of Israel — “Amy is Qassam Count: one or more rockets have hit Israeli civilians today” — or alternately, the “Support Gaza” status-updating application used by the supporters of Palestine — “Amy reports: in 13 days 1000 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis. Donate your status at…” When you are angry over social injustices, it’s natural to want to call attention to the issue. You might want to post a link to an informative news article, or organize a protest through a Facebook event. But those death count statuses are eerily similar to the statuses that boys post as they watch a sports match (“John is UCLA in the lead with twenty points!”). People who compete over how many civilians on their side were killed don’t actually care about the deceased. Much like sports fans, these Israel and/or Palestine fans just chose sides a long time ago, mindlessly and obsessively rooted against the cross-town rivals, and celebrated when their side gained more attention. They now abuse their Facebook statuses to prove that their side is the bigger victim, and therefore the winner.
Many people use their statuses to write something witty. Others use it for self-promotion. But the misguided or not-so-bright Facebook users instead choose to write Facebook statuses that are deeply personal and often humiliating. Things get especially awkward when you announce your personal problems in the second person (“Amy is thinking of you and how you broke her heart”). This is bound to create confusion. It will also generate more ridicule than sympathy. In general, Facebook is a very fun and trashy Web site. When you use it to discuss serious issues, the issues, in turn, become slightly trashy as well.