“What an awful date! The men in this town suck!” screams the Facebook post in my news feed. As is often the case, the name of the heinous gentleman is omitted. All is good, then, right? We all love a good social media rant. Not so fast.
If you’ve been on social media for any length of time you have probably seen these rants. They aren’t always from women, although in my news feed they most often are. Watch the post long enough and you’ll typically see lots of sympathetic comments and a whole host of Likes. What’s wrong with a little venting on Facebook if the individual that has raised the ire of the poster isn’t mentioned? The poster is getting support from many of his or her friends, exactly as desired, so where’s the harm?
The harm, in my mind, is that the poster is sacrificing his or her future at the expense of the present. Here’s the scenario:
Alice has a bad date with Bob and takes her complaints to Facebook. She doesn’t mention Bob’s name. There are probably a small number of people who know that she went on a date with him. Carl, as a follower of Alice on Facebook doesn’t know Bob, doesn’t realize who is being raked over the coals, but can make a good guess that some people do know who the person is. Would Carl ever consider dating Alice, knowing that, if the date goes poorly, she’ll talk trash about him and that some people in the circle will know it was him? Will he recommend any of his more stable friends to date her? Or will he warn his friends away, saying she’s volatile and puts her problems on Facebook? I’m telling you this: those guys that would be good catches are going to stay away, leaving Alice with the leftovers.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
On the MOD Love show we discuss this topic often, as we both see it regularly play out on Facebook. When you take your relationship rants into the public view, and that’s exactly what your post on Facebook is, you’re peeing in your own pool. Facebook and other social media platforms can be great ways to meet new people, but it’s also your personal marketing arm. What you put out there tells people what you want them to think of you. The wise user knows that a person who only posts happy things probably still has down times from time to time, just like any normal person, but the feel of the person is a positive one. It’s attractive. Negative posts are the reverse. They will push people away. While in science we know that opposites attract via electromagnetism, in the social sciences I believe the opposite is true – positive attracts positive and negative attracts negative.
“But,” you say, “I need to talk to someone after that bad date. It’s how I process things!” Pick up the phone. Call your best friend. Call your mom or dad. Heck, write an email to a handful of your best friends or do it over private message. Get the support you need but don’t stand on the Internet’s version of the street corner and shout it out to the world for every passerby to hear. That guy driving by may have been exactly what you were looking for but you may have just convinced him that you aren’t what he’s looking for.
Now, if the date from hell actually involved intimidation, harassment, or coercion, I would encourage you to warn your friends and, if it went over the line, contact the appropriate authorities. If, however, the date didn’t pick up the bill, told a dirty joke, or otherwise just didn’t meet your criteria, stay off the street corner. Remember to treat people the way you wish to be treated. Speak respectfully of others and get your support the old fashioned way.
Steve is the founder of Straight Talk Entertainment and currently produces and writes for the audio drama Aural Traditions, recently voted Charleston City Paper’s Best Local Podcast. He’s also an Information Security professional and avid shark tooth hunter.