Dear Facebook groups,

I’ve been thinking about you a lot recently. One of my friends from home decided to join the Tufts 2018 class page recently, tagging me in posts left and right. For example, he decided to advertise the information that I was auctioning off a ticket to Winter Gala. The many people who messaged me were rather confused to hear I was not selling anything, and that I hadn’t had a ticket in the first place.

My friend’s newfound online presence at a university he does not attend has reminded me of several types of people who appear universally across different Facebook group pages. The first character is in fact the notorious spammer. The spam, of course, can take the familiar form of a long lost cousin who has suddenly come into the monarchial dominance granting any of his relatives a small fortune in exchange for a Social Security number and several credit accounts. Included is the miracle weight loss trick a local mom has discovered that has resulted in every plastic surgeon in the tri-state area despising her! Some spam, though, takes form in a more unorthodox manner. Let me again draw attention to my friend’s many stylistic choices. Sept. 17, 2014: “Anyone have Brautigam for Physics? That class is too much!” “Brautigam” was my high school physics teacher. Jan. 19, signing me up for an a capella group audition when my singing talents are clearly confined to the shower. During winter storm Juno, he shared “Anyone else just loving this weather??” And finally, today’s pièce de resitance: “Left a pair of blue vans at the gym last night. If anyone knows where there are hit me up A$AP.” Spam, therefore, can take on a much more creative and camouflaged form, rendering it harder to detect. Every spammer, however, has a chink in their armor. My friend’s cover was blown the fateful day he asked people to join him for an evening game of four square on the “Dean’s Garden,” erroneously alluding to the actual President’s Lawn.

Let us take a moment of brief silence before we discuss the next group of poor souls, the hopelessly lost and confused. These posters may seem to put on the façade of a spammer, but it becomes quickly clear that they are being completely serious. Bringing up questions that have been heavily discussed and explained before, anomalous pictures and unfortunate selfies galore, dazed and confused users bring out the sympathy in everyone. Many of these users develop a fond affinity towards memes and similar platforms that literally no one else understands. Many parents are dazed and confused posters, unfortunately. Already hindered by the learning curve of online ins and outs, there has been a recent resurgence in older generations’ use of odd online humor. For example, old people absolutely love Bitstrips. To visualize, the encounters often start innocently, with a reminder to bring some cookies to the next Book Club meeting, etc. A comment will then include some sort of emoji Michelangelo rendition depicting the time Sally forgot ginger snaps and Barb throwing some nasty side eye in response.

Also popular are the comedians, who make posts parodying the usual statuses people overuse, such as lost and founds, as shameless plugs for events and other content. Everyone knows the kid trying to sell a pair of flip-flops when everyone else scrambles to rid themselves of their oversized snow boots. If well trained, these types of users can successfully stir the pot and invigorate otherwise stagnating groups. Social commentary is key. I guess this is social commentary as well. This column is reaching a scary “Inception” (2012) status. Fret not, this is in fact a newspaper. Unless you’re reading it online. Whatever.

Poking you forever,

Henry


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