Psychologists in Texas just released the results of a study suggesting that the behavioral qualities we exhibit on Facebook “convey accurate impressions” of our true personalities.
In other words, you really are a jerk.
With more than 350 million active users, Facebook is one of the world’s most popular meeting spots, a place where we catch up with friends and share our thoughts on everything from what we ate for breakfast to how we feel about the war in Afghanistan.
It’s also become the de facto place for people to be rude, pushy and dogmatic. Got an opinion? Share it, flaunt it and shove it down our throats. It’s not enough to be passionate about that which we love; it’s as if Facebook demands we behave with fervent disrespect about that which others hold dear.
OK, so who cares if you scoff at my favorite band, TV show or book? And, to be honest, I really don’t care what you think of my beliefs, religious or otherwise.
What I do find extremely offensive is when someone takes to Facebook to declare that everyone else is a simple-minded, herd-following fool for having faith in (take your pick) God, Buddha, Allah or any other religious deity.
I’ve seen more than one status update of this nature in the last several months. Judging by the comments, I might be the only person who even cares, but you can bet if someone posted an update with the opposite message—i.e., nonbelievers are going to hell—we’d decry the message as hateful.
Facebook, of course, represents just a microcosm of our real-world lives, one in which we have the option of keeping our profile visible to just a limited circle of friends.
And that’s the problem.
According to Sam Gosling, one of the psychologists behind the study, our Facebook profile mirrors an accurate representation of our persona because people aren’t trying to “enhance” their image in this private social network.
“[Facebook is] just another medium for engaging in genuine social interaction, much like the telephone,” Gosling explains.
Then again, I don’t remember the last time a real friend called to mock, chastise or take me to task on the subject of faith.
My mother advised me never to discuss politics or religion in polite company. That’s an extreme approach to life, but there is something to be said for voicing your opinions respectfully; it’s not about being passive, it’s about being considerate. Otherwise, you’re just like the drunk guy at the party, cornering people with your brilliant soliloquies.
Nobody likes you when you’re drunk, and it’s getting to the point where they can barely stand you sober.
Of course, no matter what studies may suggest, Facebook is still just a virtual community, and the beauty of this medium is that unlike with real encounters, it’s quite easy to ignore someone’s digital rants.
Pay no attention to his posts, hide her updates, unfriend the idiot—the options are just a few keyboard clicks away.