“You go, girl!” Of the vacuous, facile remarks that fill Facebook comment pages, this must be one of the most common.
“You go, girl!” often seems to follow a bit of trolling by someone posting a fetching picture of themselves designed to elicit praise, which dutifully arrives in rapid succession, like so:
“My princess...such beauty...Is modeling your next career? Stunning!...Wow! Nice pic! Gorgeous . . . You go, girl!”
Etc, ad nauseum, usually followed by a responding phrase such as “You guys are too sweet!!’
It is this aspect of Facebook that leaves many of us cold as to its real significance, with businesses offering small bribes to get their “likes” up in the stratosphere, because its seems like a good idea to have lots of anything. As one shrewd local business owner observed recently, when some younger members of his team were pitching the idea of spending time and money to drive their “likes” into the stratosphere, “Can you eat Likes?”
Facebook birthday greetings seem to come fast and furious these days, “Have an awesome day, hotshot, you deserve it!”, sentiments which often would never have showed up if the actual purchase of a card (or any real effort) was required. Still, in our little corner of the world, one of the values of this aspartame-Birthday-love is letting you in-on who is up to something politically.
For those who are the most desirous of the premier’s chair, or re-election as a Member of Parliament, are often quite relentless in their hunting down of birthdays on Facebook. No doubt a staffer is taking care of that business for them, which can explain the one I received, “Happy Birthday, Colin! Hope it is a great one!”
It probably shouldn’t come as a total surprise, since often what Facebook’s empty conversations are serving is the dichotomy of conformity and individuality. It one of the tensions of human existence everywhere, the desire to fit-in and be loved, while also being a unique and perhaps vaguely superior person.
This ongoing mini-conflict within us all was brought home neatly during a conversation at a Charlottetown Christmas party last year. Travel was the subject and there was much agreement about how great it was to travel, how wonderful Europe is, and other friendly banalities. The chitter-chatter was an innocuous way for everybody to just get along, to conform, will stating their own “brand” and individuality while greeting each other amiably like dogs in a park sniffing each other’ bums. We were exchanging likes. You go, girl! To Europe!
And then it happened. The fragile conformity was gently challenged when one guest mentioned the Spanish city, Barcelona, pronouncing the “C” like an “S”. Immediately another guest interrupted, somewhat triumphantly declaring, “It’s NOT BarSelona, it’s BarTHelona,” Which is, of course, true, for in that part of the Spanish speaking world, C’s are pronounced like TH’s.
It’s not the first time someone has jumped out of their chair to use the pronunciation of Barcelona as proof of their worldliness and it won’t be the last. And for some reason every time it happens it seems to come off as mildly snotty, challenging the consensus and conformity of the group. “Look at me, I’m so worldly,” it seems to say.
No great harm is done, but it does demonstrate that we are constantly straddling the balance of getting along and getting ahead. One million likes and fatuous praise may be one way to do it, in Barthelona and elsewhere.
Campbell Webster is a writer and producer of entertainment events. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.