If you're feeling dissed by your family, The New York Times knows just who to blame: Facebook!
Yes. That's right. As usual, the old Lady in Gray is acting as your go-to source for overdramatized reactions and unintentionally hilarious takes on our distressingly digital lifestyles. The headline that forced me into a fit of giggles today was this one, running at the top of The New York Times section on Technology: "In the Facebook Era, Reminders of Loss if Families Fracture" (click the link and you'll also see a dramatic photo of a person alone at her computer in the dark... woe!).
The article (if you want to call it that) goes on to talk about how people who don't speak with certain family members find it to be a big old bummer when they see stuff on Facebook about said-estranged relative, and/or when they find themselves stalking said-estranged relative's Facebook posts (not everyone's so good with privacy settings, alas).
Well. As always, my friends, I come to you feeling disillusioned by our world. I mean, The Times actually expended effort interviewing people to create a hard news story out of this silly topic. Here are some direct quotes:
"You're watching other people enjoying your daughter and the grandchild you're supposed to have, and you're left out in the cold," Mary said. "I have to watch pictures of my grandson -- that I didn't get -- on my daughter's sister-in-law's page."
When Mary's 21-year-old son took his sister's side and cut off contact for a few months, he not only removed her from his friend list but also disowned her on Facebook. "It was a blank little ghost where his face used to be on my profile," she said.
One possible solution is to simply close Facebook accounts to avoid the pain. But that is hard to do in practice. "It scares me to close it down," said Mary.
So, I feel for Mary and all, and I wish her the best -- but is this real life?
To be sure, I'm not the only one who finds this kind of news analysis ridiculous. In fact, there's a whole hilarious Twitter feed called "The Times Is On It," which serves simply to mock the NYT for its many obvious stories. As the feed Tweeted about today's article: "GUYS, you can stalk estranged family members and exes on Facebook, and The Times is ON IT." (For the record, yesterday it was: "GUYS, some people have so many apps, they don't know what to do, and The Times is ON IT.")
In addition to the fact that it seems The New York Times could put its resources to better use, the other issue at hand here is the tendency of Big Media publications to make massive issues out of anything and everything that goes on in the digital world and to blame the technology for issues humans bring upon themselves by being humans. We are a very flawed species, and while it's not Facebook's fault that people are jerks, it allows all of that jerkdom to be put on display.
Here are the facts: We are now living out loud (in addition to laughing out loud, LOL!). Things that used to occur in private happen on a public stage. People you hoped to never see or hear from again now live on the same Website as you and often have ready access to an inbox with your name on it.
But do each of these situations deserve their own investigative news report? Or can we just accept that life is more awkward than before and learn to adjust somehow? The one thing we can credit Facebook for is giving us nifty tools to "Hide" and "Block" people we never want to see or hear from again. In the interest of not dwelling on digital nonsense, I recommend clicking those buttons whenever the mood strikes and -- you know -- not becoming the subject of an obvious story masquerading as journalism.
Then again, as of press time, the comment number on The Times story had surpassed 220. Perhaps these are the big issues of the day. For that we can again blame Facebook.
— Nicole Ferraro, , Editor in Chief, Internet Evolution