Dear ... um, “Friends,”
I'm thinking about quitting Facebook. This is probably upsetting to you because I think I write pretty decent posts. The good news? You have control over whether I stay or go. Yes, the criteria below is highly subjective. But we’re not talking about what other people who aren’t threatening to quit Facebook want, we're talking about me.
Here's what I’d like to see more of:
1. Admissions of bad behavior. You used the breakdown lane to cut to an exit. You stole someone else’s coffee because you were in a hurry. You told a guy on the subway to fuck off. (I eat a date out of the bulk bin at the health food store every time I go. I know that’s lame, but it’s just to get you started.) We need to share more of what makes us truly human.
2. Pictures of your animal. Put as many photos of your pet up there as you want to. Post ten a day, if you like. To the friend who has a English bull terrier who does this thing where it tries to jump on the couch and realizes it needs to get more of a running start and turns around and goes back: I could watch that all day. I also like to see animals that need to be adopted. These are good for the animal — and they're good for me too.
3. Helpful tips. Like “Read this book,” “See this movie,” “There’s a place at the Denver airport that makes a salad that actually resembles a salad.” I also appreciate a negative heads-up: Like, “Elysium is really bad.” I would have appreciated it. (Anyone who saw this movie before I did owes me $11 for not posting that.)
4. Funny things that strangers said. Like, you’re on an airplane and the girl next to you says to a woman who tells her to shut up, “This is not your plane, and this is not your planet, so you shut up.” Or you tell the toll worker at the Benicia-Martinez Bridge to have a nice day and he says, “As long as I keep listening to Creedence, I will.”
5. Requests for help about things where you can actually be helped: “I need a font that’s basic but not boring — ideas?” Or, “My dog just got sprayed by a skunk and the store is closed, so tomato juice is out. Help.” Or, “Has anyone got a good dentist in the [insert area code here]?”
And, conversely, less of this:
1. Admissions of good behavior. You ran this many miles, you made and ate this healthy thing, you said this nice thing to this person and it made you feel good. I am not saying never post about this stuff. But it’s just that we have a deficiency of “I was so bad” and an abundance of “I was so good.” And I don't know about you, but I feel like I’m going to hear enough of that stuff when I go to heaven.
2. Random pictures of animals that you are not associated with and who don’t need homes. I realize there are tons of cute YouTube videos involving cats and dogs. And if I want to go look at them, I will. As it is, when you post them, I am forced to acknowledge that people I know sit around watching random videos of cats and dogs, and this makes me sad.
3. Quotes from Rumi. I realize living in Northern California — where Rumi was recently elected governor — makes this an almost impossible request. But next time you want to tell me, “Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life” or “Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you,” remember this: Rumi is never going to be your Facebook friend. I — for the time being — still am.
4. Funny things your kid says. We get it. He’s learning to speak English. We don’t need to see it in real time. That’s your job. This goes for kids of all ages.
5. Requests for help with deep personal trauma. “What do you do when someone you’ve loved and lived with for five years won’t stop drinking?” Well, for starters, you use Facebook’s handy private message option.
Of course, there are exceptions to all of this. The cat with the gas mask, for example: a classic. Actually, I’m pretty sure the cat with the gas mask is the only exception.
So post wisely. My fate is in your hands.