Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Polyanna-Facebook Complex

Many disgruntled users of the most successful social network in the world are now rapidly
maturing along with Facebook, and getting less out of the experience. The 'friend connection'
frenzy to find long-lost lovers, friends and classmates has given way to fewer friendly 'Likes'
and lesser polite 'Comments'. Facebookers with over 300 friends have nothing to say to even
a tenth of them in their spare time. Why ? Is it because they are running out of the Polyanna
mindset Facebook expects of them as users ? In the face of ongoing upgrades and tweaks,
it seems people are not getting that initial rush of using 'friends' to try out the latest Game/App
with. A combination of information overload and a sense of inadequacy to deal with all the '
tweaks and upgrades' contribute to frustration and borderline melancholia. The thrill is gone,
it would seem, if it weren't for the increasing numbers who await their next 'Friend Request'
from persons who can barely speak in their language.

Did Slate's Libby Copeland hit the nail on the head when she said. "Blandness will not do,
and with some exceptions, sad stuff doesn't make the cut, either." Or did she miss the nail
altogether ? I think she did. Here's my friend Sean's observation about the Slate article :

" Hmmm...I'd like your opinion of that. Perhaps it's just me and the 'friends' I've accumulated, 
but my experience is opposite this. Every day I get messages of bad things and see little but 
support and love towards those suffering even minor depressions or problems. "

And here's my interaction with Claudia, another friend :

  • Fred M. Miller I am halfway through responding to a Slate.com article via my blog. 
    Slate asks if fb is making us all miserable with the whole experience.....I have to 
    squeeze this thread somewhere.
    February 1 at 11:01pm · ·
  • Claudia 
    I think FB has brought us together.. interconnectivity. It's great. I adore many of the 
    people that I've met here, and I don't want to lose them. I love the connections that 
    can happen even in a small way day to day. That said.. that is the... ONLY feature 
    that FB has not destroyed. Given the new Feed 'features' I really can't SEE that
    many of my 'friends', and it's actually harder to keep up / keep connected.

    What we need [I'm using we as I can think of a list of at least 100 people off hand]...
    what we need is a place with the commenting options of FB, user controlled 'feeds', 
    and user modded pages. Then we need to migrate this lovely bunch of people 
    OVER THERE. And then.. live happily ever after. ;]See More
    February 1 at 11:18pm · · 2 people

Maybe my single friends do have a nice set of friends who try to uplift their spirits whenever
they sense that they are feeling down. I know that I myself have often unconsciously tried the
very same Pollyanna approach I mentioned in regard to Facebook. Some say I pass over
everything that others find disturbing with my ongoing philosophical, zany quips. I owe it
all to my childhood growing up with my foster aunts and to my first teen idol, Hayley Mills,
star of Disney's 'Polyanna' and 'The Parent Trap'.....I always found moments of gladness
to overcome the many moments of sadness whenever I escaped to that place where the
mindsets of Hayley, Pollyanna and myself merged into one.



'Everybody's searching for a hero, we all need someone to look up to'
Dorothy Hamill and Muhammad Ali, film stars like Paul Newman and Audrey Hepburn,
musicians like Ravi Shankar and John Lennon all have an ongoing impact on people's lives.
These 'heroes' often provide the impetus to many desperate souls looking to interact and
positively reinforce their lives. And Facebook helps them by providing a world of fine-tuned
interaction.

Many a Facebook friendship is based on a user's Likes and Comments, and that is what
makes the Facebook experience different. The heroic interactions between a passionate 
social worker in an Orphanage in Nepal and her network of friends from the Philippines,
Pakistan, the UK and the USA are shining examples of what is possible in a global social
environment. As are all the immediate responses to cries for help from owners of Animal
Shelters, and shows of worldwide solidarity with victims living under oppressive rule in
places like Iran and Egypt. The possibility to see good is there if we but open our eyes.

And so, Claudia...and Sean in Seattle......you are both right. There are many uplifting
instances occurring around the clock, whether they be in the form of a favorite Rumi quote
or the sharing of an artistic masterpiece, a humorous quip, a simple virtual nod in the
form of a 'Like' and of course those hearts and XXXs and OOOs. All reinforce a sense of
well-being, even if for a fleeting moment. Facebookers are involuntarily playing the 
'Glad Game' Polyanna played that changed her new hometown into one big happy place.


Oh, and Libby at Slate.com, thanks for raising the question for us to ponder.....
we'll be fine updating our Profile pics and pages and posting and 'Liking' and 'Commenting'
....at least until the next Update, or the finalization of the impending sale of Facebook.

Pollyanna (Vault Disney Collection)
Pollyanna (Vault Disney Collection)

The Parent Trap (1961) and The Parent Trap II (1986): 2-Movie Collection (2-Disc Set)
The Parent Trap (1961) and The Parent Trap II (1986):
2-Movie Collection (2-Disc Set)





2 comments:

  1. You raise great points about adult Facebook users.

    FB is just plain confusing to me---I don’t get what exactly you are SUPPOSED to be using it for….It’s a cumbersome method to use to stay in touch with people…you have to sort thru so much information that is usually not relevant to you before you find the updates that people post that may be relevant to you.

    Once you collect a few hundred friends, how can you be sure that you WON’T miss that occasional post by a friend or family member that is relevant to you? Isn’t it a much more efficient use of your time and energy to just have the person contact you directly with the information that they want you to know?

    And while I can understand wanting to use Facebook to seek support from your “friends” at times, I would caution people to be care there….especially if you are posting things about your personal life and you have co-workers or professional contacts as “friends”…

    In reality and in using Facebook in a best-case-scenario sort of way, we’ve reduced our personal interactions to some generic place online to post generic “G Rated” status updates that we deem important to our hundreds of “friends”!

    And your Facebook friends can get you in trouble…..Check out my blog post to see why at:

    http://cherisundra.blogspot.com/2011/02/privacy-is-new-celebrity-would-you-give.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Cheri......your comment is truly appreciated, and they suggest that a simple thing like Facebook is not all that simple after all....it's confusing, not secure and sometimes dangerous. And yet there are an amazing amount of folks including families and friends who are totally hooked......they are obviously getting something out of it.

    ReplyDelete