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Why Facebook Status “Games” Sadden Me

The newest Facebook “game” is making the rounds of the profiles of many people with whom I am friended and I find myself increasingly irritated and saddened as each new one appears.

Don’t often do this but….It occurs to me that for each and every one of you on my friends list, I catch myself looking at your pictures, sharing jokes and news, as well as support during good and bad times. I am also happy to have you among my friends. We will see who will take the time to read this message until the end. If you appreciate your friends from all over the world, go ahead and copy this into your status too, even if it’s just for a minute. I’m going to be watching to see who takes care of the friendship, just like me. Thank you all for being a part of my life. Copy and paste please, don’t share.

If no one reads my wall, this should be a short experiment. This is a Facebook game to see who reads and who just scrolls. So, if you read this, leave one word on how we met. Only one word, then copy this to your wall so I can leave a word for you. Please don’t add your word and forget or neglect to copy!

1.  Despite the generic assurances that the poster really does enjoy his/her friends, there is a caveat.  This “game” is a litmus test to see who actually takes the time to invest in equal measure in the relationship as proved by following the game rules.   The poster declares he/she makes that investment in you but are you going to reciprocate by a) reading all the way through the post, b) copy and paste into your status, too, and c) reply with one word to describe how you met?

The manipulative quality of this particular game is in the statements that the poster has been a “support in good times and bad times” so taking time out to comply with the game rules is an “experiment” to see who is as good a friend as the poster alleges him/herself to be.   I am saddened that proof of friendship is so trivialized with an “experiment”.  If I were to play this game, how does this edify my relationship with that person?  Is it really in their best interests to have manipulation condoned and facilitated?

2.  It’s egocentric.  Fundamentally this is a plea that people stroke the poster’s ego in a manner that requires they invest thought processes and time thinking of the poster and then writing a reply that makes the poster the main subject of the comments.  Invariably the comments do include expressions of affection or love which, in my circle of acquaintances, is undoubtedly expected.  If you have to provide the spark of initiative to get people to praise you, declare their affections in public places and jump through arbitrary hoops to demonstrate their steadfastness of friendship, what does that really say about you and the quality of your relationships?   Does it edify my relationships to facilitate self-centeredness in a public forum?   I don’t think so.  I see these “games” as a sad commentary that I and others are guilty of not taking the time to privately affirm the relationships thus compelling the poster to go fishing for that affirmation in public places.

3. It’s a popularity contest.  This breaks my heart.   Within my circle of mutual friends I see various people posting the same game to the same circle of people.   It quickly becomes very evident who exactly are the popular people and who are not.  The number and quality of comments is often vastly different.   Facebook has recently been cited by researchers as a cause of depression, feelings of isolation and loneliness for as many as 1 in 3 people due to their comparing themselves and lives to others.  Facebook has become “an unprecedented platform for social comparison”.    Study author Hanna Krasnova from the Institute of Information Systems at Berlin’s Humboldt University wrote, “The most common cause of Facebook frustration came from users comparing themselves socially to their peers, while the second most common source of dissatisfaction was ‘lack of attention’ from having fewer comments, likes and general feedback compared to friends.”   If you loved your friends, why would you engage in a game that has the distinct potential of causing others to stumble into sadness, depression and feelings of loneliness as they compare themselves to you and find that you appear to be more loved than others?

I confess to be tempted to play the “game” on the wall of less “popular” acquaintances (those with fewer replies)  to “even the score” in comparison to others.   But I feel manipulated and compelled to be drawn into a trivial public display on a social media site.   So my only remedy is to find the most edifying quote I can and post it to my status in the hopes that what I write on Facebook gives no opportunity for offense but rather uplifts people.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Marozia August 24, 2013, 4:07 am

    I finally did it, people! I deactivated my Facebook account today.
    Yes, it can be difficult. But I’ve done without it before and I can live without it now.

  • Angel August 24, 2013, 9:27 pm

    I use FB but I have deleted, blocked and hidden from my newsfeed anyone who I don’t enjoy reading their posts. Example, a dear friend of mine from high school I had to hide his posts from my news feed because I just couldn’t take all the profanity and sexual content of his posts. It had gotten ridiculous! I would never unfriend him but I just couldn’t take the sexual posts anymore. Several months later I ran into him at the store. We chatted and caught up (hadn’t seen each other in person in a few years) and he happened to mention that he had just posted some pics of his kids, camping or some other innocuous thing. I tried to make it seem as though I had seen the pics but clearly I hadn’t (I had blocked his posts from my newsfeed remember) and he looked a little hurt that I had not seen the pics. So in blocking his posts I also blocked the good stuff. Fortunately my friend has a sense of humor and he told me, scroll down to this album and cover your eyes as you are scrolling lol. My point is, people use FB for very different reasons and they are not always the best. I try not to get too easily offended. But while we are on the subject of stuff that is annoying about FB, how about the check in feature? Really could I feel any worse about my own social life lol? I never go anywhere. But so and so is here, there, and everywhere. A little annoying but hardly a reason to unfriend someone.

    I would say one of the best features about FB is the block feature. I wish you could do this in real life!!

  • Jenn50 August 24, 2013, 9:34 pm

    For what it’s worth, there’s nothing wrong with having friends on Facebook whom you don’t know in “real life”. It can be a great way to connect with people who are going through something you are, but nobody you know in your day to day life is. Very few of my offline friends can sympathize with things I go through with my daughter’s autism, but there is a wonderful community of support on Facebook. People who know resources and techniques I never would have found otherwise, and sometimes it’s the only place to find people who “get it.”

  • Eugenie August 24, 2013, 11:30 pm

    I’ve never had an account of my own but I’m familiar enough. Novel at first but at some point this daily ritual has to become mentally exhausting. It’s a great idea in theory but when you’ve got 200+ “friends”, what’s the point? Definitely popularity contests going on. Plus, you can’t “friend” one cousin without friending every other cousin, aunt, uncle, and grandparent no matter how little you care for them. There are people I don’t EVER need to talk to again but denying a friend request would just cause problems.
    I used to think birthday cards via email were tacky. Social network pages have eliminated any and all effort involved in sharing true appreciation for those we love by reducing their personal value to a 30 second generic wish-well on a virtual post-it note.

  • Mrs. Stay Puft August 25, 2013, 11:03 pm

    So, people actually CARE and put thought into these things?

    Every time I saw then (when I had a FB account), I found them trivial. I just have a hard time fathoming how people could even care about such a silly game.

  • Xtina August 26, 2013, 10:36 am

    “Games” of this sort are nothing more than chain letters in another form. Why do people insist on reviving and re-inventing chain letters every few years–what exactly is their appeal?? As far as I knew, everyone and their brother hates chain letters.

  • grumpy_otter August 28, 2013, 7:50 am

    One thing fans of facebook should know is that many of those “games” are created by companies trying to gain likes and popularity because that boosts the value of their pages. Or those ones that say “type this word and see what happens in the picture!” Same thing. Before I share anything or comment on any post, I make sure it’s not redirected from someone I don’t know–I only like or share my friends’ actual posts.

    (And if you have some of those friends who constantly share things like this, you can hide them from your feed without unfriending them. If they tag you, you’ll get a notification, but you don’t have to see their constant chatter)

    This was the most popular thing I ever posted:

    “A funny thing happened while I was out–I saw a man who was a dead ringer for George Lucas, and he saw me do a double take and then smile. I looked again to see if it was him and he said to me “You’re about to ask me why I ruined Star Wars, aren’t you?””

  • Aitch August 29, 2013, 3:16 pm

    I remember the cake, its called “Herman” (or Friendship cake) – and I recently got given a batch! But mine died (well it over fermented), I first had some in around 1980!

    I have friends younger than me (in their 30’s) who have had breast cancer. The first time I got copied into one of those games, I immediately posted a link to the Breast Cancer Care website and to my Race for Life just giving page (sponsorship for a 5k run for the same cause).
    The following year I got another inclusion, di the same and also to my firends blog where she was discussing how to check breasts and so forth.
    The third year I actually had enough confidence to post “I have been included in yet another pointless “awareness” game. Please don’t include me in these “games” – I choose to raise awareness by fundraising and spreading the message about checking breasts. Thanks”.
    I got more likes on that post than I had in ages.
    I love Facebook, its marvellous. However, like anything it can be misused. Not using it doesn’t make you a better person.(Funnily enough everyone I know claims to use it to keep up with friends…..but there are an awful lot of candy game requests coming from somewhere 🙂

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