In addition to completely destroying productivity, inducing feelings of suicidal and/or homicidal envy, and subjecting everyone to an endless parade of pregnancy photos, one of the other great things about Facebook is that it allows you to pick fights with – and grow to hate – people you don’t know at all. Even if you steadfastly avoid Facebook fights, though, sometimes the controversy finds you. No matter what you post, you can always count on a few fringe elements to come in, guns blazing, and tell you exactly why what you’ve posted makes you the most horrible person ever. Here are the biggest offenders:
1. The Aggressive Liker
This person never actually says anything. Instead, he likes every political post, and responds to Facebook arguments by compulsively liking the responses with which he agrees. No one knows what causes this need. Some speculate that it’s a rare neurological disorder that causes the fingers to vibrate wildly, accidentally liking everything when the going gets controversial. The disturbing thing about aggressive likers is that it’s nearly impossible to know what they think or why they like something.
Aggressive likers fall into four distinct sub-categories:
1. Your best friend, who is obligated to support you at emotionally trying moments, particularly emotionally trying political fights.
2. The random person whom you only met once, but who seems to agree with every thought you’ve ever had and feels the need to constantly express her approval.
3. The Internet stalker, who has liked everything you’ve posted – political or not – for the last five years.
4. The passive-aggressive hipster liker, who ironically likes comment she thinks are stupid.
2. The Mother Figure
This person doesn’t actually have to be your mother. It could be a grandmother, an old teacher, an aunt, or an elderly ex-boss who’s just joined Facebook. Her posts read as if she’s just read a list of social networking don’ts and resolved to commit each and every one as quickly as possible. Her comment may or may not be relevant to what you’ve said, and there’s only a 50% chance it’s directed at you. It’s just as likely she meant to post it on someone else’s wall. Sometimes the mother figure is someone you don’t even know. This usually happens when she sees that someone she knows commented on your status. Not understanding social networking, she proceeds to comment, too. Mother figures’ favorite topics include rashes, food, completely false Internet rumors, and anecdotal horror stories.
3. The Professor
Halfway through a 100-comment flame war, and without apparent rhyme or reason, the professor stops by to drop a whole lot of reason on your political bomb. This person is never actually a professor and is always someone with way too much time on her hands who views your debate as The Most Pressing Issue Ever. She’ll cite 22 studies, break arguments into syllogisms to demonstrate why they’re fallacious, and then be shocked – shocked! — when no one changes their mind.
The thing with the professor is that she’d do great in a philosophy class or as a writer. But she’s too busy spending her time correcting others to contribute much of anything to the real world. You’ll probably eventually have to block her, because she’ll stop at nothing to convince people of the way, the truth, and the light of logic.
4. The Random
Who the random is changes with every post. But there’s always one who drops in to share a “witty” comment and then never comes back. The comments are never actually witty, and are usually the product of tired stereotypes. If you post something about vegetarianism, a random dude you went to high school with will respond that pork is delicious. If you post a horrifying story of rape in the Middle East, a the regrettable one night stand you had in college will chime in to let you know that he’d hit it.
You’ll be tempted to engage with the random and display his ignorance to the world, but he doesn’t care. He’ll never be back, and there will always be a new random there to replace him.
5. The Bizarrely Offended Person
This person has one issue about which they care very deeply. Unfortunately for them, it’s usually something completely imaginary or something that no one else cares about. These people are frequently driven by bizarre religious beliefs, membership in a political movement that has 10 members, or an obsession with an obscure piece of literature.
He’ll be pleased to find something so offensive it warrants death in one piece of one sentence. If you post about street harassment, he’ll spend four paragraphs explaining why his inability to yell at random women is a form of oppression against men. How dare you inflict this suffering on him? If you post about politics, he’ll chime in to tell you the apocalypse is coming and that your post is part of the massive conspiracy to undermine apocalypse preparation.
6. The Crackpot
Most political arguments follow the predictable divide between right and left. The crackpot has taken her chosen political ideology and wholeheartedly imbibed it. Now she wants to drunkenly vomit it all over your Facebook page. Like bizarrely offended people, they usually are members of extremist religions or political organizations. But unlike bizarrely offended people, the crackpot really wants to convert people.
Her posts are usually riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, bizarre assumptions, and buzzwords derived from her ideology. If you post about an election, she’ll share a diatribe about why Ron Paul is the One True Candidate. Share something about providing mosquito nets to end malaria, and she’ll post a rant about how birth control has destroyed third-world countries and malaria is God’s penalty. She’ll happily go back and forth with someone else until you exceed 100 comments, and her final comment always encourages the other party to “explore the issues.”
7. The Anecdotal Liar
This person has a story for everything, and every story is a lie. He’s confused anecdote with data, and believes if he can get just the right story, he’ll magically convince everyone that his position represents Absolute Truth.
If you post about homelessness, he’ll tell you about his one time that he saw a homeless person driving a BMW, and draw the conclusion that there are therefore no homeless people/all homeless people have expensive cars/ being homeless is the greatest money-making scam ever in the history of the universe. Post a photo of the pit bull you just adopted from the shelter, and he’ll tell you about the time his cousin’s nephew’s sister’s kid was savagely attacked by a pit bull who had previously never had pit bulls. Ergo, every pit bull – and possibly every dog – is a homicidal maniac just waiting for an innocent victim.
The thing is, you don’t get to sit back and laugh at all the other posters without taking a look at yourself. If you’re constantly participating in Facebook flame wars or posting statuses that start them, then you are just as much a problem as everyone else. The odds are good you’re somewhere on this list. If a friend shares this list with you, it might not be because she knows you’ll lol at how stupid everyone else is. It’s just as likely that she’s passive aggressively letting you know that you’re one of the crazies.