“That Got Me To Thinkin’…?” “The Group Page” Chapter 65
By Bruce Williams
I belong to several group pages on Facebook—most of them local sports teams-inspired, or with a science, news, comedic or political focus. Two of them, though, represent factions of ruthless groups of people in places that you might least expect them—the Neighborhood Watch page and the “Friends of…(my current employer)” site that both regularly eviscerate anyone who dares trod upon their feeds with a wayward opinion.
The Neighborhood Watch page usually begins somewhat benignly with a post about flagrant pot-smoking on the trail, unsightly littering or ill-behaved teens, but just travel eight comments down the string and someone is announcing their thankfulness that they always “carry” while someone else has devolved into accusations of Karenism. These usually polite keyboard warriors, many of whom I recognize from our days of waiting at the flagpole for our kids to emerge from grade school or witnessing them meandering amongst the produce aisles at the local grocery, find themselves here—tearing each other new ones over the most mundane of announcements and observations. It usually doesn’t take too long for the MYOFB to emerge, or for the poster (let’s face it—usually female) to get her hackles up and huffily announce that yes, they did call the police’s non-emergency line and, yes they will be talking to those kids’ parents directly once they’re identified from the pictures they’ve been told they had no right to take in the first place. In the sometimes occurrence that the submission comes from a neighborhood man, the debate ensues about the male version of the name Karen…usually they settle on Kevin, but I’ve always thought that Darren makes more sense (after all, it rhymes). Anyhow—Lazy Susan is probably glad that it’s Karen that is now getting her 15 minutes of shame.
There’s a special place in Hell for employees that go back and complain about the service at their former places of employment, but that seems to be exactly the driving force behind the “Friends of…” page (the irony) I was added two years ago by a former co-worker. The ongoing theme appears to be: ”It’s just not what it used to be…” you know, because they’re not there anymore, and any place that no longer includes their complaining and misplaced indignation is by definition much “worse”. “I agree” states another, formerly horrible employee. “Once I left, the whole place went down the shitter.” On and on, unbearably awful effetists spew their trivialities until a current employee takes umbrage and dresses them down a bit before the bleating and carping continues with a remarkable lack of self-awareness or empathy. Eventually the exchanges get nasty or somehow wander into the political, and the page administrator has to shut it down. At one point, the whole shebang got terminated over the Black Lives Matter issue. I never thought that would be the site’s poison pill, but there you have it.
What is it about the internet that makes people think that they can just rip into others with reckless abandon? I would never dream of posting on either of these two sites because even if you just declared that it was a beautiful day outside, someone would bitterly question several contributions down, “What’s so good about it, you know-nothing Nancy?” I always check out the personal pages of the most egregious commentators, just to see what’s lurking behind those lace curtains and fluffy sconces. “I recognize her…who knew she had that in her?” Usually the most foul-mouthed of the lot will quote a Bible verse three or four entries down their home feed, or have several inspirational recitations about either kindness or not-ever-knowing-what-
So I’m a member of these groups, but a silent member—a voyeur really. The longer I remain in them the less likely it’s become that I will ever say anything at all because I have no desire to defend someone’s misinterpretation of my intentions—their clumsy finger waving and needle-nosed foot stomping. I have no inclination to have the wrong words put into my mouth or to be chastised by someone with a Dutchboy haircut and a sexless marriage—or by a fired former peer that’s misremembering their entire experience with dealing with the public. And after all, that’s what it is…the capital “Public” that’s just ghastly enough that it makes you even more grateful for your own home and family as you mutter, “…I should just go ahead and quit these pages…” as you keep on scrolling on…