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  • Writer's pictureAndy Ross

A Laughing Reaction

By Andy Ross

I’ve been making a concentrated effort to limit my time on social media lately. The vestiges of what once was Twitter have largely become a wasteland. Facebook only makes me want to compare myself to others, which leads to nights of misery. Instagram might be only the one I enjoy, as it rarely makes me feel like crap. Yet, almost every morning I hit that blue and white Facebook icon and start to scroll. 

Facebook has those different types of reactions you can make to a post, from the old like, to love, to sad, to care, to angry, to funny—or as I like to call it “haha.” As I’ve sat in the mornings looking over things, I’ve noticed something. Facebook will show you a sort of average of the kinds of reactions a post will have, and there have been far too many things that don’t warrant a “haha” reaction that will have a significant number of them on it. 

To be clear, what I find so disturbing about it is I wonder what kind of person would “haha” react to a post that reads “new children’s hospital opens in the area” or “school provides free lunch to children.” The veil of being behind your computer or phone does bring out the worst in people, and makes you wonder what goes on inside the mind of someone who would “haha” react, and comment “LOL” to “major cancer treatment breakthrough.” 

In my mind, these people must be those family members that everyone dreads coming over for a holiday gathering but knows they have to invite anyway. We all have one or two of those, usually. It’s like taking a turn at a roulette wheel wondering how they’ll behave at the family gathering. You’ll talk about how “Little Timmy got all straight As in all their classes!” Then this person will fall to the floor, doubled over with laughter at this news. 

What type of satisfaction does a person of this ilk get from reacting to things that are largely positive and good in such a manner? I suspect it’s a “smug superiority.” That they know more of “the real world” than to be satisfied by things they deem marginal. These are people who take comfort in their smugness, as they sit alone, judging the world parading by them on the tablet in their lap. 

I think they’d react this way to everything. “Congrats, you’ve won 125 million dollars, your dream car, a house, and your own fully-stocked TCBY in your own home.” “LMBO!” They’d say, shaking their head at this in some kind of detached disgust. God only knows what their reaction to getting married must have been. 

 Still, I know that as the parade of Facebook never ends, I’ll keep seeing people who react with laughs to things that seem like a positive net gain for the world. It will continue to baffle me. I guess things to help children in need, clean up our air and water, and improve our downtowns are stupid things not worth pursuing in their eyes. I’m sure they’ll have the last laugh when they find themselves alone with their phone or tablet on Christmas morning. They’ll be having such a better time than the rest of us. See you next week. 


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