Whether an acquaintance brightens your newsfeed with their gobsmacking idiocy or you actively cruise the message boards and blogs devoted to the worst social networking decisions ever made, no one is impervious to the recreational schadenfreude that Facebook culture encourages—nay, demands. We’d all like to feel better about ourselves, yes? Meaning someone else has to take the fall. It’s simple Darwinism, as long as you misunderstand Darwinism.
But there’s a spectrum in play here. You can’t just go around cackling at misfortune and dogged ignorance willy-nilly. Here are some ground rules for Rubbernecking 2.0.
1. Person writes at length about their doings, tastes and opinions, with the flagrant subtext “life is so hard”: standard fare, move right along.
2. Person boasts of heroic drug/alcohol intake: send link to unemployment registration web page.
3. Person delivers misinformed, typo-ridden screed about their perceived enemies and/or haters: hilarious, forward it around to friends and colleagues.
4. Person posts picture of their new and atrocious tattoo: snicker privately, then ask someone else what they think of it—but almost with a straight face.
5. Person complains that they are pregnant (again) or have been arrested (again): release a quiet chuckle, then immediately feel guilty about it.
6. Person posts picture of themselves with fiancée/spouse, and one or more parties are hideously ugly: smirk and know you will pay for it in the afterlife.
7. Person announces their terminal disease or death: “like” the status and reply “LOL” in case it’s an elaborate joke.
As always, do not engage in political debates on Facebook, no matter the content. You won’t convince your opponents, and even worse, you may remind them that they have to get off their computers to vote.
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