Enemy-up: Facebook backlash is up and running
Not surprisingly, there are some anti-Facebook initiatives materializing here and there. The Boston Globe had a recent article by Jenn Abelson that talked about a couple of them.
As pure parody, what's not to like about a send-up on Facebook's let's all be friends mentality. I even read somewhere recently that one school - I think it was NYU - has an orientation course for freshman coaching them on how to make real friends (or not) with all the people they so giddily fell into instant-BFFO friendships with on Facebook over the summer.
Enemybook is the brainchild of MIT PhD student Kevin Matulef, who:
...got the idea from undergraduates at the dorm where he tutors, after hearing one student talk about how someone was a "Facebook friend," but not a "real friend"...
"People are yearning to express the ridiculousness of some of the features of Facebook -- having all these friends that aren't genuine," Matulef said. "For some people, Enemybook is about expressing their distaste for political figures or celebrities. And for other people, it actually is about spreading hatred for their despised co-workers and exes."
Snubster is a variation on a theme:
With Snubster, you can put people "On Notice," give them an opportunity to redeem themselves, set a deadline, and if they fail to clean up their act, list them as "Dead to Me."
Well, one thing to vent about "political figures or celebrities." Quite another to go about "spreading hatred for their despised co-workers and exes." And "Dead to Me" sounds okay if it's done tongue in cheek. But seriously?
Don't people get that it's a lot easier to forgive and forget what someone said about or did to you if it's out there in public for all the world to see? Altruistically: why would anyone want to cause someone else hurt, embarrassment, and pain? Practically: doesn't anyone who's out there enemybooking and snubbing get that this could backfire on them?
Someone could sue, which some Snubster snubbee is reportedly doing to someone who trash talked him.
And even if it stays out of the courts, who wants to be known as someone who is in perpetual 'don't get mad, get even' mode. And where do you draw the line in this all very subjective sand.
Sure, you can get on and rant about your ex, but are you just feeling put out, put down, and snubbed? Or is the person formerly known as Mr. Right really a treacherous, duplicitous, rotten, no good a-hole? Or is he just an ordinary, human being who done you a bit of wrong (which you'll - almost guaranteed - get over). Hey, sometimes things just don't work out.
And that boss you've just gotten such satisfaction about of excoriating online? Is she really a malevolent bitch-queen who sucks up all the glory, deflects all the blame (onto you), and is (no doubt) lying on her expense reports? Or is she just someone you a) resent because she has the job you want; b) just plain don't get along with.
Don't people get that yesterday's sworn enemy can, in fact, be tomorrow's true friend? Don't people get that the person you're locked in a political battle with at work could end up tomorrow's ally? Sometimes it's just not personal.
And even if that's not going to happen, what, precisely, do you gain by online going public with your feelings?
Obviously, in this blog - and in my book - I write about real people in real situations. Not all of the things I write are exactly flattering to the people I'm talking about (including, of course, myself). I write all the time about imbecilic, asinine, demeaning, and downright mean things that I've experienced (including, of course, things I've done myself). But that'll be the day that I use anyone's real name when I'm writing about someone I worked with (as opposed to occasionally calling out public figures who are in the news for things they've said and done that are imbecilic, asinine, etc.) With the possible exception of Dr. Wang, for whom I worked in the 30,000 person company sense, I haven't exactly worked with public figures. When I'm writing about an "incident" I try to make sure that enough is disguised that someone has plausible deniability. (That ain't me...) And I know that my interpretation on something that happened is just that: my interpretation.
It seems to me that even snubbing and enemy-booking a public figure could backfire on you in terms of employability.
But it's probably safe to say that if you've put Anne Coulter on your "most hated" list, you probably don't want to work for someone who's president of her fanclub.
The Globe article quotes Patrice Oppliger, who teaches at Boston University:
"The entertainment of being mean is almost elevated to a new level."
I can be caustic and snide with the best of them, but do I really want to spend a lot of time in a world where people think it's cute and entertaining to come up with lists of people who are "Dead to Me"? In which the message is "Tell Friends to "Enemy" Someone, and Spread the Hate! "
Sorry, there are some things that should just stay in your off-line circle of friends.