Friday, February 3, 2012

A rant against FPDAs (Facebook public displays of affection)


Of all the social media indulgences (and I'm guilty of many) FPDAs - Facebook public displays of affection - have to be the worst; the main offender. Just ahead of unneccessarily creating acronyms.

You know, public display of affection - couples attached at the hip and lip in a social setting - but words on Facebook. Bringing anti-social behaviour to social media is a serious crime.

I may be a jaded cynic whose last proper relationship sank just before everyone jumped on board Facebook, but I'm as familiar with infatuation as I am with the sweet gratification of online attention. The addiction of connection and interaction is a great distraction from real life with its seemingly endless potential for instant gratification. It's also relatively empty most of the time. I hope once they go public they start charging to use certain elements - rather than making a dollar out of the entrenched, it will make it easier to step away.

Facebook is mostly, and probably at best, a performance stage. Its worst is the passive cries for attention and assurance. You eventually reach a point where you're so sick reading self-indulgent vague, melancholic, reassurance or concern seeking posts that you resolve to shift them to Twitter. I now try to keep my Facebook posts light-hearted, funny or sensibly activist. If a post that doesn't get at least a couple of likes and/or comments I'll regret saying it. I'm an anxiety-ridden amatuer writer, of course I still seek validation.

Everything posted on Facebook is doesn't for a wide audience - it's a one-to-many medium. Even personal messages on a friend's wall are simultaneously a broadcast to everyone else who passes by. Would you say these things to one person at a party with a microphone? If not, probably don't post it on Facebook. If you really want to shout or whisper it into a crowded street where few will care, tweet it. Otherwise have a personal conversation. And/or get a journal.

So then there are the couples. I always thought people in relationships generally used Facebook less, at least less than they would if they were single, and have some good evidence to that end. Myself included. But now it seems couples are more and more bringing their personal, intimate relationships into the public electronic domain. Sorry, that's a misuse of the word 'intimate'

It isn't a one-on-one medium unless you direct message. If there's relevance to others or its funny or ridiculing one party, completely fine. But I do not want messages about how much they love or miss each other or how many days until their wedding filling up my feed and getting in the way of things I might actually be interested in - music videos, interesting discussions and drunken photos.

FPDAs are like an infatuated couple at school passing notes in a classroom and having everyone it passes by open it (and maybe like or comment). It's just not as (eek) romantic. Aside from the personal touch (oh for a letter in the mail!) text messages or phone calls are far more effective. Cost money though right? Well use email or private message. The more you dilute a personal conversation in the ocean of the crowd the less meaningful it is to the other person.

If I read a single Valentine's Day to that effect I will defriend the perpetrators immediately. There is a certain romance about shouting your love from the rooftop; and people may applaud and celebrate with you initially, but if you don't get back down to earth soon enough they'll turn and start to throw shit at you.

I just don't think Facebook is designed, or works best as a medium for, personal communication - whether with a partner or friend (other than private messaging). Because, I'm sorry - people just don't care. And having people care is half the fun (read 'point') right?

Public statements through art are different because of their (sometimes) beauty, subtlety and personal reading.

I'm not a wowser. After being single for most of the past five years I miss the affection like Schapelle Corby misses cuddles, and you better believe when the right girl comes along I'll want my friends to share my happiness. But I won't put it in their face, in public or online.

I'm not opposed at all to displays of affection in public, but rather displays of public affection - those where the mind is focused beyond the person you're engaging. Unless, of course, they are directed at me

Affection for a crowd is an act, it just seems phoney. There is substance in subtlety, moreso in intimacy. Inctimacy being that close, personal, deep connection between two people - where outside attention is irrelevant because everyone else disappears.

Of course, it's not just couples. Some people have just lost the art of personal communication. For fuck's sake, I'm sure we've all been at a table of friends where a number of those present are online on their iPhone, or whatever one's cool now, giving in to the addiction of wider but less meaningful discourse.

The Facebook birthday wall is a farce. I've given up posting on people's walls on their birthday. If they're a friend we'll catch up or I'll send a personal message. If we're close enough for that we probably shouldn't be Facebook friends anyway. The only exceptions are where it includes a dedicated YouTube music video, which I may wish to see, or if it is my birthday. I like others to see how many people care about me.

And plenty do, don't you worry. Which is why it hurts so much when no one 'likes' my witty posts.

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