I'm one of those types who likes to watch people, to try to analyse how they behave, hopefully to use that information in my future dealings with them. Man management, something I try to do every day, is all about that, about trying to find the buttons that need to be pushed to get an individual to respond the way you want.
So I find it fascinating, often amusing, but always revealing, when someone "says" something on a FB wall and then promptly retracts it.
Now I'm no expert but I do know that the virtual world doesn't work like that. In real life, or IRL as those gamers say, we can say a sentence to someone and then retract it and, unless we've been recorded on camera or have put pen to paper, it's only our words and other people's memories that will bear testimony to the fact. I can call you an insulting name, then apologise and make friends and usually we move on and all is okay.
But the virtual world has both evidence, like google cache, backups and all that sort of malarkey, as well as a dubious and dangerous lack of emotion; a potent combination at times. Let's face it, most of us are severely limited in the way we choose to portray our actual feelings online. There are those emoticon things which you kids throw around with gay abandon and there's "LOL". That's about it.
So when someone leaves a slightly dodgy status on Facebook the rest of us rarely know what level of emotion is attached to that status. We don't know if the person is being sarcastic, deadly serious, full of pathos, or any other of the three musketeers.
I saw many pretty vitriolic comments a few weeks ago referring to the recent riots in the UK. Harsh, but fair enough I thought. If people, many in Sri Lanka, feel that way then it's up to them. I find them offensive and puerile, but that's merely my opinion. Others will, and did, disagree.
But I was amused to see a couple of these get deleted by their writers shortly after they were published. One person left a comment on my wall saying "I really feel for the millionaires trying to understand all this anger" in response to a jokey status I'd written about Boris Johnson and David Cameron flying in from their holidays.
I thought the comment was a weird one, strangely bitter but not such a big deal. The fact that the author deleted it shortly afterwards ensured that it left a far more permanent mark in my memory than if it hadn't been deleted. Ironic I know. And, being the author of the original status, I've kept the original FB email notification that I received.
I also saw one person leave a status along the lines of "serves the UK right for the damage it's done to Sri Lanka", which was removed a little later. I sniggered at this. Because if you think like that then at least have the courage of your convictions. Or is that on reflection you suddenly realised that you might upset your friends in the UK?
Some could say that when the writer deletes a FB comment it's a commendable action and they'd have a point. I've seen people remove remarks that perhaps they've thought about and deemed to be offensive or too insulting. My view though is that the bigger way to behave would be to leave the comment up but to follow it up with an apology, so others can see that you think you make an error and you accept it. Far better than deleting, in effect pretending it never happened.
As for people untagging themselves on pictures, well I risk facing a backlash here, but have only ever seen this done by women, and assume it's vanity. Us men, even vain as hell ones like me, don't care that much. I've had pictures published of myself when I've had my best and most strenuous gurning face on, usually whilst drumming, and though it does bother me slightly, never have I untagged myself.
On the flipside I've seen photographs of some women in which they've had one strand of hair out of place, one face looking a bit ugly, and they've promptly got rid of their name so no one can see who it is. It's a fact that it's only women who do that whole "don't take my picture" putting their hand in front of their face thing. Ne c'est pas?
And a happy September to you. Did you know there are only one hundred and fifteen days to go until Christmas now?