Of all the peculiar pandemic trends going on, one that’s distinctively shown up in my life is a large increase in the number of people adding me to various groups on Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, I get it. We live in a time where we are all feeling isolated from people and the need for connection has never been greater. Groups are a great way to bring people together. (our hero then wondered to himself if he should let through a line like that. It sounds like it’s from a YMCA pamphlet circa 1983.)
In the pre-pandemic world of yore, groups on Facebook were how the improv group I’m in kept everyone up to date on our bookings and other goings-on. Some groups I’m in are with friends, some with family, and others are fun like the one about science tidbits and another for Animal Crossing shenanigans. There’s even one that’s like a virtual free yard sale for people. I like that one a lot. Yet it reaches a point where I find myself being added to more groups than I’m ever going to actually fool with.
That’s what hits the button in my brain of “I do not care for this.” Knowing that now I’ll have to weed through all the notifications from these groups just to get to the ones that may be related to something that’s moderately important to me—as important as things could be on Facebook. I don’t besmirch anyone for adding me to these various groups, the five I was put in for things related to 1940s Hollywood tracks with me as a human, but Twitter is where I do most of my classic Hollywood nerding and it was just too much overlap.
Yet some groups make little to no sense for my tastes. The group that was devoted to just focusing on the 1987 Chicago Bulls roster for instance. Sure, I watched and loved “The Last Dance,” but I don’t need to spend all my time focusing on that particular team. There was one devoted to recipes from those church cookbooks that you used to see all the time at your grandmother’s house. Not holding up the weird ones for fun and irony, but to genuinely share 900 variations on the same Jell-O-based salad with other people. Honestly, it’s a testimony to human ingenuity how far people can make cherry Jell-O stretch.
There was a group devoted to pictures of Betty White with dogs. That one was really fun, but after two weeks people stopped updating it. There was a group of amateur sleuths who wanted to figure out the identity of JC Press’s Mystery Diner. That one was entertaining for a while, but then it turned into wild conspiracy theories that involved that Frog puppet from the carpet cleaning commercials.
Once people had spent their time adding me to relatively normal sounding groups, then came the ones that seemed truly out of left field. “The Same Five Photos of Mr. Ed, In Our Hearts Forever” was one that I thought was a joke at first, until I saw there were over 10,000 members. Then I saw one called “Picnics That Would Have Been Better if Someone Brought a Ham.” That group was especially confusing, as it seemed to be personal photos of people looking sad at picnics, small and large, with “#ShouldHaveHammedIt” as the caption on everyone. It did not appear to be sponsored by Smithfield.
What made me reach my breaking point with the nearly once a week group additions, was when someone added me to a group with 2,500 members called “Dad’s Having a Bad Time at Disneyland/World.” This was another one filled with personal photos from various decades, but much like the group’s name said, it was shots of family members together at the various Disney parks, but in every photo, the Dad looked completely over it.
I like that people think enough of me that they want to share the group fun, but I’m about over being added to all these random—and downright bizarre—groups. Have you noticed this too, or is this just a phenomenon that is targeting me? Did the National Council for Facebook Groups decide I’m not in enough of them and need to be added to more? The world may never know. See you next week, or in my new Facebook Group “Batteries Not Included Fans Looking Sad at Dollywood.”