If Facebook has done anything, it’s satiated two of the most common traits that human beings desire — attention and sympathy.
During any second of the day, we have the ability to garner attention for ourselves now that Facebook exists. It doesn’t matter what we have to say, either. Just by posting anything, anything at all, the Facebook status will show up on hundreds of people’s News Feeds, and be read by a good number of those people.
And just like how It’s impossible to infallibly prove that every good deed is completely selfless, it’s equally as difficult to prove that every single Facebook status, check-in or comment isn’t for attention.
Humans are programmed to relish attention, and to feed off sympathy. So if they experience something that actually warrants both of those things, then, in this day and age, you damn well know they are going to flaunt it.
A very disturbing trend that I have noticed recently that applies to this is people who “check in” on Facebook from hospitals.
Of course, by checking in from any location, the purpose is to let people know not only where you are, but to post some type of witty comment that tells others that what you are doing is probably better than what they are doing.
But a hospital check-in does exactly the opposite. Anything that necessitates a hospital visit to begin with is obviously unfortunate, so there’s nothing to brag about there. But, everybody and their mother knows that if you tell somebody you are in the hospital, they are going to react in a sympathetic way.
When is the last time somebody told you that they spent the night in a hospital, and your response was, “Oh, okay. So what do you want to do this weekend?” And if that was your response, it probably means you are a sociopath, and that you will likely murder another person before your life is over.
The automatic responses to hearing about somebody’s hospital stay are pretty typical:
“Are you okay??”
All of them are nurturing and comforting responses, and as Oedipus tells us, are exactly what we’ve craved ever since we were babies.
Facebook gives people the opportunity to not only inform people en masse about a hospital visit, but to actually let people know while it is happening.
My favorite is when people do it ambiguously. They check-in from the hospital, and they’ll say something like, “Well, this sucks…” with a sad face included. Obviously, that’s the most attention-seeking way to go about it. By not saying what the matter is, you’re letting people think the worst, and only heightening any concern they may have for you.
But I just think that this is a heinous, deplorable, bottom-feeding tactic. First of all, if you’re in the hospital, there are plenty of things that should be on your to-do list before picking up your phone and checking in. Things like texting your close friends to inform them everything is okay, or talking to nurses and doctors to learn more about your prognosis, or just, you know, spending time with your visiting family.
And it’s even worse when the reason they’re in the hospital is for a routine thing, like to have their tonsils removed. Meanwhile, people in that very hospital with debilitating illnesses don’t even have the strength to pick up their phone and log onto Facebook.
It’s not terribly different from people who post a photo of their car minutes after they’ve just been in an accident. At the end of the day, it’s all manifesting out of the same two human desires — attention … and sympathy.
But they’re not getting it from me. No siree
Unless they die shortly after they check in. Then I’ll feel pretty bad. Especially after I just said all of this.