Please Be Specific

(this was surprisingly insightful to write by the end)

This is being written on December 31st, last year, as you modern Internetters would now call that out-dated collection of 365 days, partly because I’m visiting relatives on New Year’s Day, and so won’t have the time to write a coherent post, but mostly because my, often but not always, lovely friends have once again pissed me the Hell off on Facebook.

This time, it’s about the seemingly traditional ‘20xx was a GREAT year guys, love you all for making it so good, you know who you are’ status update on Facebook. Wait, ‘you know who you are’? You’re going to thank people for making the last 12 months of your life tolerable, but you won’t namecheck them? Why on Earth not?

On a practical level, you appear to be highlighting the good deeds, or general good natures, of some of your friends, which is a sociable and friendly enough idea. However, your lack of identification of these people means I cannot possibly benefit from these kind folks and their almighty goodness that was deserving of a Facebook status.

You’re telling me that some people helped you get over the loss of a family member? Then tell me who the Hell they were, so I too can have a shoulder to cry on if my life turns tits-up in the near future, rather than the alternative that is marathonning old Charlie McDonnell videos.

Furthermore, such a status is non-committal for what it is; I won’t name those who have committed this heinous crime here, because my blog is intended to let me vent my anger at anything that moves (and perhaps entertain or offend you in the process, either works from a publicity viewpoint), not to create a Craigslist-style rundown of the greatest spouters of first-world-problems on my newsfeed.

However, on Facebook, you communicate entirely with your friends, with exactly the same people you are supposedly thanking for their kindness; on such a personal site, surely it makes sense to be this personal when you talk about people?

Also, audience is a problem here: this blog has been read by strangers in Kenya, and so I wouldn’t really be comfortable naming personal friends in these posts (the hypocrisy of the blog’s egotistical title accepted), but your statuses are only read by the very people you are thanking. Or are they?

And this leads into my biggest problems: that thanking people who ‘know who they are’ is simultaneously exclusive and terrifying. Exclusivity is present, as such a statement suggests only some people in your life are deserving of your thanks, and that the rest of us need to try harder to earn a coveted spot in your end-of-year hall of Fame of status updates.

Personally, I don’t think some people have contributed to my development over the past year to greater or lesser extents, but in honestly different ways: my teachers made me a better writer and organiser over the course of the year, the friend I talked to once for an hour after no contact for the past seven years made me realise the relative awesomeness of my life, and the friends I made at Cambridge on just one day showed me how there are people outside of my own knowledge that love analysing syllable structure as much as I do. All of these people are deserving of my thanks and appreciation, in a much more meaningful sense than your superficially gratuitous Facebook status.

Fear is here too, to a much more painful effect, as people will inevitably start to question whether they’re part of the elect who are referred to in your vague thanking; for paranoid losers like me, who cherish every form of human communication as a gift from some omnipotent power to be worshipped and revered as such, I am incredibly fearful that you’ve forgotten me, or now dislike me, and have excluded me from your thanks and, by extension, thoughts.

I even feel left out from people who I think I know well; I would consider folks I’ve had memorable times with in clubs and lessons to be good friends, but then they whack a load of pictures of them at parties and gatherings on Facebook, with other, different friends that I’ve never met, and I start to fear for my position within their social hierarchy.

This is a deeper fear, that the person I consider my best friend in the world, who I would rank 1 out of 100 in my list of friends, would only stick me around the 25 mark. Do people care about me personally, and as a friend, or just as an amusing presence and source of revision notes in English lessons?

And then I get to go to University next year and start the whole ranking process all over again, with, at best, no experience of being anyone’s best friend and, at worst that, but with trust issues and emotional insecurities thrown in as well.

I’m pretty sure I’m over-thinking this, but I’m convinced you severely under-thought your non-committal and hurtful ‘thanking’, in which you tried to alienate no-one by mentioning no manes, but only made me doubt the validity of my own existence in the eyes of my so-called ‘friends’.

Or maybe I’m just reading too much into it. Happy New Year.


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