So here’s what I hate about Facebook. I use Facebook to talk to my friends–people I actually interact with regularly, for the most part, most of whom I’ve known for years. When I leave a comment there, I am leaving it for my friend, whom I know, who knows me, and who acknowledges as I do that between us there is an existing relationship wherein we understand each other on multiple levels, including knowing what we can and should say to each other, and what we probably can’t get away with. Every utterance between us carries with it an invisible (to people not the two of us) backstory that deems that utterance, with few exceptions, highly likely to be acceptable to the recipient, or at least understood for the chain-yanking it is, and written off as friendly bullshitting between friends at worst.
I do not leave a comment for my friend’s 127 other friends who don’t know me from Eve, whom I do not know, and probably don’t care to. I do not leave a comment to invite their comments to me directly. If I wanted to comment to them directly, I would do so on their wall, because I’m their friend. And yet, I’m not, as I may have mentioned.
Evidently, other folks do not share these same boundaries, because on far too many occasions, (enough, now, that it’s finally and truly pissed me off enough to warrant a blog rant), random strangers who know nothing about me, my personal knowledge base, my ability to perceive and evaluate the world around me, or my relationship history with the person I actually left the comment for, see fit to attack my comments that had absolutely nothing to do with them.
That may well be hard for them to believe, as they are, as I mentioned before, entirely without boundaries, and it must be inconceivable to them that I was not, in fact, considering their feelings and points of view when I made MY personal comment to MY friend alone. I was not considering their existence at all, and only had the awareness thereof rudely (and I mean rudely) thrust upon me.
The most recent incident happened this week. A friend posted about Dick Cheney’s heart transplant. I made a single-sentence throwaway joke about it to a friend I knew would be amused, and she was. That was the sum total expectation I had for the communication, and my expectation was achieved. All done, right? Outta nowhere comes some tool who calls me out, personally, proceeds to mansplain me to death about the great charitable giving of one Richard Cheney and his missus, and how all of us on the left don’t have any facts about anything, and ad hominem attacks are all we have.
And I’m all, “Wha? What the hell was that?” This was a private conversation, as far as I was concerned. Yes, it was being held on a Facebook wall, but like any other conversation in a public place, one does not just insert oneself argumentatively into a conversation without invitation. I feel the same way when I’m standing in line at the grocery store or some such, talking to Scott about something, and some stranger butts in when neither of us has made so much as eye contact with said stranger to indicate that all are welcome in this little confab. People who do this out themselves as eavesdroppers, and therefore are doubly rude. Would they like me to interject my thoughts into the overly loud cellphone conversation they’re having in the cereal aisle? I think not. The rules of polite conversation still apply, even when you’re typing. Sure, you can interact with other people if you like their ideas, and want to say so, but it’s generally not cool to go from zero to rabid with someone you’ve not even been introduced to; this is not the way of polite discourse, or even civil debate.
I responded briefly and politely that he could rest assured that I had had plenty of time to form my opinion of the former veep, thank you very much, and I was perfectly confident and content with my evaluation. Which, in normal person land, should’ve indicated to all and sundry that I wasn’t interested in discussing it further, but of course, in bizarre internet troll land, only served to escalate things, because what a rude interrupting random-argument-with-strangers-generator hates most of all is someone who doesn’t want to pick up the gauntlet. Fortunately (for him), extremely recent precedent had shown that he required no provocation to continue the attacks, going after not only me but my friend as well. And because he was a professional-grade tool, he concluded (for the moment—he wasn’t anywhere near done) his argument by calling us “ladies” “so cute.” Which, as any student of logic and rhetoric understands, wins every debate. Because, sheesh, ladies don’t know anything, ever. We must obviously surrender in defeat by virtue of our ovaries. Better yet, we shouldn’t even open our mouths because, duh—LADIES.
Sadly, he must’ve been absent the day they discussed the concept of irony. But I suppose that would’ve only been considered an ad hominem attack had we been men.
In any event, I did what I usually do in such cases, which is withdraw, because I don’t have the sanity watchers points to deal with people who have made it abundantly clear they can’t hear me, as they clearly didn’t hear my silence to begin with before they started laying about with the asshattery. (I never wrestle with a pig, because I’ll only end up dirty, and the pig likes it.) But I remain surprised it even gets that far…how a person, a stranger no less, can take an opposing position to one I never assumed in the first place, rebutting points I never argued to begin with, with increasing unpleasantness, when NO ONE WAS TALKING TO THEM, DAMMIT!
Have you experienced this? What IS that???