Opinion: The University Named Facebook – By Azuka Onwuka

Facebook has been teaching me so many things that I could not easily learn about human character while dealing with humans beings in real-life contexts.

Facebook has made me learn that there are things that mean little or nothing to me but mean the world to some people.

For example, I don’t like people gathering around me, fawning on me, wishing me this or that, praising me, thanking me, congratulating me, sympathising with me. In simple terms, I don’t like being the topic or focus of discussion. Let us discuss something else and not me. I like to be in the background.

That is why I hid my birthday on Facebook. My friends don’t get notified about my birthday and don’t wish me happy birthday because they are notified by Facebook. Consequently, only those who know my birthday and deem it important usually send me birthday wishes. Even many close family and friends, most of them much younger than me, that I remember their birthdays and send them birthday wishes don’t remember mine and reciprocate. I don’t count it against them. It does not make me not to send them birthday wishes the next year.

I used to be shocked to see someone post his or her photos and say: “Today is my birthday. Wish me well!” I saw it as odd. It sounded to me like people actually “begging” the public to wish them a happy birthday. But Facebook has made me to overcome my shock about that. I still see it as odd, but I have come to realize that receiving birthday wishes, congratulations, condolences (even over non-relatives), commendations and endorsements mean a lot to many people. It is a human need.

I have seen people who lament that they will post their photos, post their events, post their achievements and milestones recorded by family members but some of their Facebook friends will never comment or even LIKE the posts. Their conclusion is that such people are those who don’t like them, who don’t wish them well, “monitoring spirits” who only hide in the background, reading silently, checking and waiting for something bad to happen to their enemies.

In the minds of such people, those who love them are those who click LOVE or LIKE and those who will add:
You rock, girl. Twale to the Big Boss. When I grow up, I want to be like you, sir! Awwww! Lovely baby. What a beautiful family! You guys look takeaway! Congratulations, my dear. The sky is your stepping stone!

It does not matter to many people that there are people who get irritated by someone posting his or her photos and personal achievements every day on their walls. Rather than ever see anything from them on life issues, it is their photos and videos and achievements. And you have to click LOVE and make a positive comment or be seen as a hater. Na lie! I don’t come to Facebook to watch your photos and videos and see your achievements. Everybody has photos and videos and family achievements. If you post them once in a while, I may LIKE or commend publicly or privately. But if you post them every day, I may simply unfriend you or snooze you for a month or two or take a break! Thank God for that recent feature from Facebook. If some people annoy you with their posts and you don’t want to completely unfriend them, you snooze them for a while, so you don’t see their posts even while you remain Facebook friends. It’s a win-win situation.

Truly I believe that a Facebook friend should not only be posting his or her photos and family achievements on Facebook. There should be something for friends to gain from a relationship on Facebook. For example, there are people I don’t miss their Facebook Story once they have something to share, no matter how I want to save my data. The jokes or messages they share are mind-blowing. They would load their Story with funny and interesting photos and videos that I usually will like to watch or share. Sometimes I would beg such people to send me the video for further use.

There are friends who share quotes or updates on traffic situation or latest prices of things in the market, relationship tips, parenting tips, interview tips, business tips, history about communities, news from different towns and villages, latest gossip in town, etc. I believe there is something my Facebook friend should know that I may learn from. That is value. To me, everyday photo is not value. It is egoism; it is narcissism. But I have learnt that such means a lot to some people. So I let them be, only reacting quietly as I deem fit.

I learnt on Facebook too that comprehension varies in life. My wife said they had a lecturer that would tell them: “Some of you will understand it now; some will understand it next week; some will understand after the exam!”

This makes me to know that any time I use irony in my writeup, I run the risk of heavy attacks. Even when some people tell the angry person that it is irony or sarcasm, sometimes the person still does not get it.

I have also come to realize that many comment just by reading the headline or first sentence.

I have also learnt that there are people who don’t like you but surpsingly they won’t unfriend you and have their peace. They still keep you as friend or follow you and continue to get irritated every time you post something. Then one day you post something that gives them the perfect opportunity to release their venom on you. You are shocked.

Why do some people punish themselves like that? If what you post or what you stand for annoys me, I simply unfriend you. It is not a hard thing. There are over two billion Facebook people to have as friends.

Facebook has also increased my awareness about how passionate people feel about issues and how differently people see things. Something that means nothing to you is seen as a do-or-die thing by some people. Sometimes I quietly read people’s views on issues and get shocked over how people passionately oppose certain issues that you see as insignificant: How dare you take food from my pot? How can my mother-in-law spend more than 3 months in my house? How can my wife ask me to clean the toilet after use? How can my husband ask me to drive the car when we are going out, and he is seated in the car? How can my husband open my handbag – What is he looking for inside?

Furthermore, it was on Facebook that I learnt that to some people, calling them to thank them when they have done something for you, or congratulating them over an achievement or sympathising with them during bereavement is of much higher value than sending a message. In fact, to some people, a message is of no value. It is a sign of ingratitude or lack of care. (Could you believe that?) Ironically, there are people who feel disturbed when they are bereaved or they do something for you and you call them. They receive so many calls that they prefer messages that they can read at their leisure and feel the impact. Sometimes the person is in an important meeting or making a presentation or praying or even performing his or her matrimonial duty, and then your call comes in to disturb or thwart everything.

This life!

Thank God for Facebook. Facebook has become a university where I learn more about human beings than even in real life.

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