“Don’t yuck someone else’s yum.”
That’s what they say in my daughter’s 1st grade class when it comes to wrinkling your nose and making gagging sounds about what your friends brought for lunch.
And that’s what I’ve made my New Year’s resolution. Though it has nothing to do with 1st graders or food.
Rather, it has to do with Facebook. And Twitter. And message boards. And comments. And life in general (both on- and off-line).
I’ve turned into one of those people who yucks someone else’s yum–just for the heck of it. And it needs to stop.
When it comes to social media, I have two particularly strong pet peeves (and several dozen smaller ones). The major offenders to my eyes are people who post something trite and banal about an impossibly complex, nuanced, and controversial issue as though their black-and-white, “common sense” solution or observation could ever come close to scratching the surface of the topic. And those who post either ALL Men/Women/Jews/Gentiles/Blacks/Asians/Democrats/Republicans/Athiests believe THIS and aren’t they dumb and/or evil to do so, or ALL Men/Women/Jews/Gentiles/Blacks/Asians/Democrats/Republicans/Athiests who don’t agree with THIS are dumb, evil and/or self-loathing.
I’m also not too crazy about pet pictures, but I can live with those. (On the other hand, I have never seen a baby or child photo I didn’t love, so keep ‘em coming.)
Feeling personally offended (despite the fact that, technically, nobody was talking to me in particular), I would immediately contradict what the poster was saying. They would defend by saying I didn’t understand the trenchant point they were making. Then I would counter by explaining that, no, it was actually they who didn’t understand the insightful point that I was making. They would note an example that proved their point. I would note one that disproved it.
And the only tangible thing to come out of the exchange was I’d get a headache and spend the rest of the evening growling at my husband in between hitting the refresh key, my heart thudding in sickening anticipation regarding what they might write next. (My husband, inevitably, would reply with his standard, “Oh, wow, someone on the Internet was WRONG? Fancy that.”)
I tried to tell myself that I was doing something productive and enlightening, that I was defending truth, justice, and the American Way. That someone somewhere was actually getting something from the exercise (beyond me getting an ulcer). But, as the meme goes (and I apologize in advance if it’s one of your personal pet peeves): Wow, your Facebook post has completely made me change my mind and vote… said no one ever.
Turns out, I wasn’t being constructive. I was being nasty. I was yucking someone else’s yum for absolutely no good reason whatsoever. What difference does it really make to my life if other people go on thinking or doing things that I disapprove of? It’s none of my business what they choose to believe or enjoy. Or post.
The behavior has spilled into my “real” life, too. I hear myself replying negatively to things people say out of pure habit or, worse, a lack of anything else to say. You know the kind of thing I’m talking about. Someone sighs that the toddler years are hard, and you instinctively blurt out, “Wait till they’re teenagers!” Or someone mentions where they’re going on vacation and all you can offer in return is the time your friends went and the hotel lost their luggage. Someone laments needing to get reading glasses in their middle-age and you snap, “Try getting them in Kindergarten.” Someone loved a movie, song, or book and you feel compelled to tell them you hated it–and why they should hate it, too.
Even if it’s true, nobody needs to hear it. And you most certainly don’t need to say it.
I get on my kids all the time about complaining as a means of making conversation. It’s annoying. And I’m just as guilty of it as anyone.
So, no more. That’s my New Year’s resolution. If I don’t have anything nice to say, I won’t say it. I’ll either click the “Like” button, or I will move on sans commentary. If a person’s observations repeatedly annoy me, I will unfollow them. But I will not get into tussles or, worse, sarcasm battles, especially regarding subjects for which a 140 character limit isn’t precisely the optimal length.
Because, let’s face it, nobody asked me.
I need your help, though. Research indicates that people do better at keeping their New Year’s resolutions if they tell people about them. And if they are then held responsible for breaking them.
So I am asking anyone who catches me yucking someone else’s yum (on any subject) on the internet to call me out on it and remind me of my noble January 2014 intentions.
Because, in this particular case, I did ask you.