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Facebook and the effects of Social Faux Pas


Entry 01/28/2013 08:17:24 AM – Mentat 679

Associate with well-mannered persons and your manners will improve. Run around with decent folk and your own decent instincts will be strengthened.” – Stanley Walker

There’s a lot to be said about the random quote that I picked up today. One that involves a story as to why this one was in fact chosen and not simply handed to me in an arbitrary manner from The Quotation Page. Earlier last week, I had seen an acquaintance post a status message on Facebook something along the lines of this:

If a deaf person hurts themselves, do they scream or sign in pain?

It had with it the usual tags that the acquaintance was with two friends when she asked the denizens of Facebook.

I had stared at the question a good thirty seconds, finding myself surprised at it even making it up as a status message. I am thinking that for three twenty-somethings posing this, this was one of the most juvenile questions I had seen in a long time. It’s the sort of thing I would expect from a teenager (at best), and found that even in humor this was done in poor taste. Not because I have friends and family that are deaf, but instead because of the setting it was asked on.

I asked for clarification as to whether or not they were serious..

They were… After all, they wouldn’t have asked it if they weren’t (serious).

I pointed out that the question came off as juvenile, that I’m not one to jump onto the PC (Politically Correct Bandwagon), inferred there is a time and a place to ask such questions and went on to answer based on my experience.

At this point I had finished lunch and was heading to work, and forgot to put my phone back to vibrate. It had buzzed with a response as I was down on my hands and knees painting a floor.

The acquaintance responded that she was insulted by my accusation. She said something to the extent that she had studied ASL and BSL and that she’s never encountered anyone deaf in her life until last week.

I responded that she knew what her options were if she felt that (insulted) and went on to say that this medium (Facebook) lacks the ability to physically convey the honesty of her question and that it should be asked face-to-face.

She went on to say something about not wanting to be treated like a country bumpkin (or along those lines).

I admit, I stopped listening registering what she was saying at this point. She was acting childish, feigning insult and injury about a question that really didn’t belong in a social setting and should have been asked of someone vis-à-vis… I was only keying into specific words knowing full well the end results were leading down the familiar path that could only end in some sort of flame war…

I remember I looked at her response and instead of going on the offensive and having to deal with a dwindling battery supply not to mention creating an incendiary situation, simply responded ibid.

After all, there was nothing more that could be said on the subject and that leaving her the last word of being insulted would only make a bad situation worse. I had to point back to what I said, without having to copy & paste the entire section about asking it elsewhere only to have her parrot more hurt.

That’s when the acquaintance’s two friends went on the offensive. Both of them tried to prove their mental superiority with one saying that they knew Latin and what it meant, the other saying they’re a linguist and the two of them making personal attacks about age, intelligence and a couple of other barbs that I had made a point of ignoring and forgetting. Because between the three of them acting like petulant children, I had more than enough proof for what I was going to say; and I did.

I responded to the effect that this was more than enough proof of why one shouldn’t ask such questions online, and gave them the free pass to take their last swings. After all, in any online battle, getting the last word means you won the argument, whether you’re right, wrong, or egregiously ignorant. I un-friended the acquaintance immediately after posting that message, and when I got home from a full day’s work went on to block her from getting in contact with me anymore.

I’ll admit that I was both more than a little surprised and just a touch hurt by this. Sitting here now, I think the hurt was more because of the disappointment of misreading what I had learned about her in the 6 or so months that I’ve known her and not because of the hurtful comments her friends made. Hell, at my age (both physical and internet age), there’s very little that can burn me so thoroughly as to being hurt emotionally or even intellectually. Having survived my fair share of flame wars, I’ve learned how to keep my emotional state calm in spite of the grandstanding I might do when posting a vicious or incendiary retort.

Looking back through the months I had known her, since her break up with her boyfriend (an acquaintance I talk with less frequently), if one were to take a look at her timeline, she’s become… More childish. And scrubby… Like slapper, scrubby. At first, I thought it was just that she was sowing oats sort of thing. She’s an adult now, well toward finishing university/college and going to be a social worker. Clearly going through what I used to call “Freshman Burnout” (that time when a college freshman, living away from home, enjoys the pleasures of being one’s own boss, parties hard — really hard — and either fails out or practically fails out by first semester).

But then I thought of something along the lines of my quote for today… If being around good people helps foster good manners, then the same can be said about hanging around bad influences as well.

I thought about contacting the ex-boyfriend about whether it was just me or whether the changes were noticeable, but then decided against it. I got the impression the way things went when they broke up, coupled with the fact that she’s no longer on his friend page, that it had ended poorly. After all, there’s no need to be dredging up old pains and old wounds, right?

So here I am, Monday morning… Finally getting over having a mixture of chills and hot flashes (yes I’m running a fever from some virus) through the whole of the weekend and now with the wrong sort of muscle aches; I’m thinking rather sardonically on a quote and my experience with this chain of events… The quote from Heathers (1988) where Veronica’s mom said:

When teenagers complain that they want to be treated like human beings, it’s usually because they are being treated like human beings.

The thing is, it makes me wonder whether this generation of 20-somethings is actually going to learn what my generation (and the generations before me) taught generation after generation. When asking something inopportune, inappropriate, and even indelicate, ignorantly or rudely… being embarrassed, chided, reprimanded in public or even in a social setting was a natural response from peers (adults). From that denigration/embarrassment/whatever you want to call it — one learned through the experience in that situation that some things are either best left unasked (that is to say blurted out without second thought) or better still asked in a more intimate environment, one on one or in a small group privately.

The thing is though, with this generation being online since adolescence, I have learned from experience that they don’t seem to have a concept between what’s private and what’s public, thinking that a social environment (like FaceBook for example) is a perfectly acceptable place for asking anything without consequence. And better still, when they’re faced with consequence (even and especially in public as I’ve witnessed), instead of reacting as they should if embarrassed for their indiscrete questions or comments — if it’s more than just them in the setting — will gang up on the person trying to teach them better manners and telling the person or persons trying to educate them that they’re not part of the conversation or that it’s none of their business and “butt out”.

The optimist in me thinks that perhaps that they’ll learn, however the realist that sees and witnesses such activity thinks that it’s going to take driving anyone worthwhile out of their lives before they start asking the questions, “is it me?” In any event… Heh, I should pull my pants up to where my nipples are, put on a pair of suspenders, shake my cane and complain about youth, eh?

That’s it for the time being. Off to prep for a rather difficult (and long) day at work. Until the next time.

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