It’s not my place to tell people how to behave on social media. Lord knows someone should, but I’m quite sure that person isn’t me.
Still, there is one form of behavior I’ve become quite familiar with, and it’s reaching the point where it drives me absolutely batty. What once was an annoyance is rapidly becoming pet peeve.
On my social media pages, particularly Facebook, I like to post the things I’m reading or listening to. Frequently, there will be quite a few things pictured. From time to time, they will show multiple releases from the same author or artist.
I’m not trying to brag or boast or flaunt things material. I’m just trying to show what I’m into at that particular moment. Generally speaking, the feedback is good. People offer up thoughts about the books or records, and a nice dialogue is achieved.
But more and more these days, things go in a different direction.
People seem more and more anxious to tell me what I don’t have, as opposed to discussing what’s present. They can’t discuss what’s there. They can only tell me what’s missing. They have abandoned the moment at hand to embrace some kind of micro-aggressive self indulgence.
At first, it didn’t really bother me. But that has begun to change. As much as I enjoy engaging with people, I want our conversations to be on point and relative to what I posted about. Yet people find that harder and harder to do.
And it’s starting to piss me off.
The other day, I posted a picture of the records I was listening to by Brand X. I was excited by them because I was hearing the music for the first time since I upgraded my sound system. My mind was geared toward those particular records and what they sounded like.
A follower chimed in and said not a word about what he saw. Instead, he couldn’t wait to tell me what else should have been in that stack. Don’t forget about Records A, B, and C, he told me.
Something in me snapped. What the hell did that have to do with what I was talking about?
He didn’t mean any harm. He’s a nice enough guy, and I enjoy our chats. But this felt … different. It was the last straw in a pile of straws I didn’t even know existed. I think it stemmed from the number of times I’ve muttered why can’t people stick to the subject? Why is that so difficult? The irritation was a slow burn that smoldered for a long time. Finally, the fire ignited.
I let the anger completely pass before I gently scolded him, asking him to focus on what was there. The records in the photo were the subject, I said. I was suddenly reminded of my late mother, who would have told me to appreciate what I have rather than discussing what I didn’t have. After all, I was fortunate to have that much.
My friend apologized (which probably wasn’t even necessary) and we moved on. But when I think on it, I wasn’t even talking to him specifically. I was talking to everybody! Stay on point!
If we were seated at a table together and I showed you two books, then asked you which you think I should read next, would you pick from those two or mention something that had nothing to do with what I was showing you? On social media, it seems much easier to do the latter.
I posted a photo of two books: George Orwell’s Animal Farm and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I asked which one I should read next. I got 20 or so replies. Three of them — three — answered the question. I got suggestions for every book but the ones pictured, and it made me furious. I pulled the post because it wasn’t serving any purpose.
In the end, I opted for Ray Bradbury, which was actually one of the irrelevant choices. That’s funny, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying.
I post a pile of King Crimson CDs I’m playing that day, and people can’t wait to tell me what I’m missing. Well, maybe I’m not missing them at all! Chances are, either
- I have the unseen album, but I don’t feel like playing it;
- I don’t have the unseen album because I haven’t gotten around to buying it, or
- I don’t have the unseen album because I have no interest in it.
I realize I’m coming off as a bit of a dick here, and I’m sorry. I’m also not sorry, because I knew what I wanted to talk about when I started the conversation, and people decide to hijack the chat. (And don’t get me started on that particular phenomenon. My blood pressure just went up 10 points.)
I guess that’s just the world we live in. People are gonna talk about what they want, when they want, wherever they want. A conversation about Mozart will eventually become an endless debate about the best way to grow your great-aunt’s prized petunias. Sigh …
This has gone on too long. All I ask is this: let’s stick to the topic at hand. If I put something on display, that is what I want to talk about.
When I’m ready to talk about that other album or book (you know, the one that isn’t pictured), I promise you’ll be the first to know.
You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (cirdecsongs) My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers. I’m currently working on my next book, The Wizard of WOO: The Life and Music of Bernie Worrell
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