Thursday, March 19, 2015

Confessions of a serial liker

Hello, my name is Shawn and I "Like" facebook®™©. A lot, apparently.

More than I realized, anyway.


* … 

Sorry. I've been working to get that under control. 

Do I click "Like" too much? Well, how much is too much? Who can say, really? I didn't even know my "Liking" facebook©™ was possibly profligate until some people recently made note.

People from three different continents.

My proclivities are internationally recognized.

People have been nice in telling me. I think.

I choose to think they were just poking fun.

Here's the thing. I'm not a media socialite. I'm practically a hermit with a computer.

My phone flips open, Star Trek®™ style. The TV show prop probably worked better.

I text my family, and I text people I swim with. And check the time. There ends my relationship with a mobile phone.

I use email on my office computer. Email is the world's finest communication technology, the apex, the zenith, humankind's crowning achievement. Humankind should have stopped there.

But humankind kept going.

I followed humankind as far as facebook™®, and stopped. I even checked out facebook™® for Dummies from the library before using facebook™®. Truly I did.

(Oh, I did open a LinkedIn®™ account once but I don't use it because, as far as I can tell, LinkedIn™® is a site where you practice entering your name and information because nothing happens after that. Except learning someone has been reached another anniversary in his/her job and you should congratulate him/her.)

I don't use Twitter©™ (who'd want to see me yammer in 140-character couplets, and who would I want to follow?), or Pinterest®™ or Instagram™® or Snapchat®©™ or Tumblr®™© or Reddit™ because, although I can name them, I don't understand their use, and don't want to. Most of the vast social media landscape remains unknown and unnamed to me.

facebook™® is what I'm left with, so maybe I "Like" it to death, you know, to compensate for my inadequacies.

But for all my facebook®™ book learnin', I'm still not sure how someone would even know I've embarked on yet another "Liking" spree. Maybe I use facebook®™ differently from others.

Which is thus:
  1. Arising early before chores and work, I scroll the main part of facebook™®, the News Feed®©, I guess it's called, and see what folks have posted since the day before.

    Sometimes I click on the Trending®™ stories just to the right of the News Feed™®, and almost always regret it. I'm weaning myself away from it.
  2. I click on the "Did You Swim Today?" group page to the left of the News Feed™© when I post about my swims, but I "Like" others' swims from the News Feed™®.

    Occasionally I follow the thread of comments, but my "Liking" pattern here is hit and miss.
  3. When I write a blog, I post a link to it on the News Feed™® and to my "Shawn C Turner Artist" page; I'm not entirely sure why I have a Shawn C Turner Artist page, when I already have a "Shawn C Turner" page, which I don't visit, but I do.
  4. I click on the icons at the top when I get a friend request, or a message, or a new post.
  5. I "Like" posts throughout the day, but with less frequency.
That's it. Which means I ignore:
  • All the other stuff on the left, the roster of groups and friends, etc.
  • All the ads, including "Suggested Posts"®™ that run in my News Feed™©
  • The running list along the right side, of actions facebook®™ users have taken, "Liking" and commenting on posts, and befriending people
  • The roster on the lower right side, of users who are on facebook®™at the moment, and what media they're using to be there, whether by mobile phone or computer.
Maybe it's one of those places where users can parse my "Liking" tendencies. Maybe that's where I would also notice others' patterns of "Likes," because I don't see them. Occasionally I see the little boxes on the lower left appear and dissolve, announcing when someone has acted on a post I have also acted on, but that's not the same thing.

I use facebook®™ as a way to share in others' extraordinary accomplishments, mostly about swimming, and thoughtful causes and amazing phenomena.

And I don't "Like" everything, you should know. Despite apparent appearances, I'm discriminating. Over time I've developed a personal facebook®™ code about what I read and "Like," and what I don't. You have a code too, I'm sure. Maybe you haven't written yours down, but you have one.

Quoting the bard Barbossa, him of The Black Pearl: "The code is more what you call guidelines than actual rules." Meaning, I manage to muck up my own code now and again, as you'll see.

I "Like"
  • Posts about swimming, of almost any kind, sometimes even surfing, but not fishing, which I get a lot of, for some reason.

    I even "Like" the same post multiple times if it appears on pages "Did You Swim Today?" — the only page on which I participate — and "Train Hard. Swim Fast. Have Fun," "WeSwimBecauseWeCan," "I Attack at Dawn," and the German "Bist deu Hoit Guschwimmen?" which are swim-related pages I don't contribute to but which people have added me to without asking.

    I even "Like" posts with accompanying selfies that look like the selfie attached to the swimmer's post the day before that, and the one before that.

    I even "Like" posts that seek advice and I don't have any.

    That's how much I like swimming posts.
  • I even "Like" posts from the German version of "Did You Swim Today?" even though they no longer come with automatic translation and I have to copy and paste the posts into another translator to figure out whether to like them.
  • Posts from swimmers who are also visual artists, and display their works in progress.
  • Posts from swimmers who tell witty episodic stories about their terrestrial lives.
  • Posts from a small selection of bloggers whom I follow.
  • Posts from a friend I knew in high school with a penchant for aggregating interesting Internet items about design, visual arts and science. I often set these aside for nighttime viewing.
  • Posts from a selection of people I knew in high school. But it's complicated. See Appendix, "Where I'm wildly inconsistent."
  • The rare post one or the other of my children has made. facebook®™ is not their thing; if I see any of their posts, they originated from some other social medium.
  • Posts by those whom I want to cheer on in their various endeavors and walks of life.
  • Posts from people I know who share a viewpoint I hadn't considered. Sometimes.
  • Posts about political viewpoints I agree with and feel that somehow, some way, I can do something about.
  • Posts showing others' creativity, though I'm not very consistent.
  • Posts about ocean life.
  • Posts someone frequently puts up about national parks, for which I'm a sentimental sucker. The poster is a swimmer, but doesn't post a lot about swimming.

I don't "Like"
  • Swim posts that smack of advertising and promotion. They get a lot of my "Likes" before I realize they're more about money than the shared like of swimming.
  • Pictures of food, unless the post has something to do with swimming, and even then it takes me two or three reads to make sure swimming is mentioned, and that the food is related to swimming, such as reference to post swim brekkie, as Brits sometimes say.

    I'm not a fan of looking at food or drink people are going to consume, or the empty plate where a meal had been. I don't understand this compulsion.
  • Pictures of people's children. It makes me uneasy. I generally don't think kids should be on facebook®™, and if grownups are sharing them, I wish they'd fine-tune their filters to be shown to a select few.

    I am very glad facebook®™ didn't exist when our kids were young.

    Again though, see the "Where I'm wildly inconsistent" appendix.

  • Profile pictures, unless they're really, really swim related. Same goes for cover photos.
  • Pictures of someone's fabulous vacation, unless swimming is involved, and then not always.
  • So-called "vaguebook" posts that require a chain of commenting to glean what the original post is about.
  • Most illustrated aphorisms and memes, unless they're about something I'm feeling right at the moment.
  • Pictures and videos of dogs and cats.
  • Suggestions I listen to a song. Music is so subjective and I rarely align with the suggestions.
  • Political viewpoints I don't agree with, natch. Though usually I don't comment. I'm not going to change minds and vice versa.
  • Almost all "Throwback Thursday" posts.
  • "Click bait," up to and including quizzes of any sort, the myriad and endless "what country/Harry Potter character/vegetable/god/color/diva/internal organ would you be?" or any of the "You'll never believe what she found inside this buried doghouse!" variations.

    It's taken some time and will, but I don't go to these places anymore.
Appendix: Where I'm wildly inconsistent:
  • I "Like" some childhood acquaintances' posts but not others. facebook®™ is powerful for bringing people together, and sometimes we'll reacquaint. It's interesting to gather tangentially what this or that person has grown up to become — though it feels weird knowing this — and I gather they infer likewise, and sometimes that's good enough.
  • I "Like" some relatives' posts but not others, and it has a lot to do with the nature of the posts or my relative relationship. I can't imagine I'm unique this way.

    I "Like" some relatives' pictures of their children, but not others, which is my wildest inconsistency. I should probably stop "Liking" all kids' photos.
On the whole, I like facebook®™ as a forum to celebrate the life's vast variations outside my little office, even the variations in swimmers' lives worldwide, which you might mistakenly perceive as lacking variation.

I like its power to buoy and encourage, and to share a laugh or a thought.

I like its human kind. Click "Like" if you agree.