Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Stop doing that!

I feel like I spend half my online life clicking “unsubscribe” from people on Facebook. It’s annoying that Facebook automatically subscribes you to people you’re friends with and even more annoying that they even default you to opt-in on annoying people. But worst of all, Facebook thinks the annoying people are the ones I’m most interested in, so all their annoying-people updates flood my feed.

How do you know if you’re annoying? If you post a lot of images you think are really funny, that’s a red flag. If a lot of those images are completely text, then this is your intervention. Stop doing that.

Other things people need to stop doing:

Asking people online what’s wrong with them instead of calling a doctor. I’m going to guess that no medical conditions in history have ever been cured by crowd sourcing.

Bitching that the world requires too much “political correctness”. It’s only a suggestion and only if you think it’s important to recognize that there’s a world outside of you and you want to try to not be an ignorant asshole.

Quoting Larry the Cable Guy.

Offering advice, regardless of whether requested, appropriate, or helpful.

Spray tanning.

Thinking that being a skeptic makes them intellectually and ethically superior to everyone else.

I honestly could go on… and probably will. But I want to save some for your guys.

What do people need to stop doing? And most importantly, what do skeptic people need to stop doing?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.

Featured Image via somewheregladlybeyond


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. People need to stop looking left while they are turning right.

    I haven’t noticed anything that skeptics tend to do that annoys me.

    1. “People need to stop looking left while they are turning right.”

      And vice versa.

      “I haven’t noticed anything that skeptics tend to do that annoys me.”

      Not yet anyway. ;)

  2. If you post a lot of “guys are like [insert stereotype here] and girls are [see previous brackets]” and think they’re witty and clever, I don’t want to read any of your updates. In fact, I don’t even want you on my friends list since you might then read my updates and feel compelled to comment on them and you’re unlikely to have a single thing to say that I feel is worth the time to read. Yes, I’m an elitist asshole snob but this way, I’m a happy elitist asshole snob. (And no, I don’t have terribly many fb friends – I generally unfriend people if I don’t find I genuinely give a piss about how they’re doing).

  3. Asking people online what’s wrong with them instead of calling a doctor. I’m going to guess that no medical conditions in history have ever been cured by crowd sourcing.

    My wife called a neurologist for an appointment and they advised that the first available one was January 2013. This is not because people are stupid but because we have a shitty healthcare system in the US.

    1. No, I mean asking for help INSTEAD of calling a doctor… or asking the internet if you SHOULD call a doctor.

      Example: I once saw a woman on FB asking for advice on how to cure a list of symptoms that her toddler was experiencing. My reply was that the list sounded a lot like diabetes and she needed to call her doctor and get an appointment ASAP. The woman replied with “Any other suggestions? lol”.

      I think that’s different from having a call in to the doctor and looking for advice in the meantime.

      1. I do cut first time parents some slack. I remember that feeling where you’re not sure if your kid has a real “thing” or if you’re just being too careful. Doctors are expensive and you don’t want to run your kid in every time it sniffles funny.

        1. Most doctors have a nursing staff that will answer your questions over the phone or via email. And most baby websites are great sources of information about common concerns and what is and isn’t an emergency, usually with advice from professionals. Being a new parent does not mean that you need to forget that your acquaintances are mostly people who believe that the government is working with Big Oil to cover up the fact that there is a car that can run on pot.

  4. Uncritical posting of pre-packaged platitudes. My favorite (not!) recent example: “If someone is meant to be in your life, they will do everything in their power to make that happen.” Sounds like a stalker to me. Also, please stop posting runny nose pictures and stories about your precious little one’s poop. In turn, I shall refrain from filming the litterbox.

  5. “I’m crying my eyes out, I’m just broken hearted. I don’t want to talk about it”

    1. Yeah. The whole “I’m broadcasting that there’s an issue that I then say I don’t want to talk about it” thing really says “I really want to get some attention over this but I want to maximise it by having you all ask me just what it is”. A coy sort of attention-whoring.

      If you really didn’t want to talk about it, surely what you’d do would be to not talk about it?

  6. “Dear friends: Stop using FB as your spot to bitch and complain, everyone has problems, let’s stay positive. Nobody likes a whiner, go get a quarter and call someone who gives a shit. :)”

    Yes, listening to someone’s pity party is a pain in the ass. Sometimes you just have to vent.

    P.S. Who says anyone wants to be continually reminded of your sunshiney, white picket fence life?

    1. Our friends are on our Facebook, that is a good place to vent. I am struggling with something right now and NOT posting it on Facebook is actually killing me. I want some advice and I don’t know who to get it from.

      I feel if I was vague enough on Facebook and asked people to contact ME if they wanted to have a chat about ____ topic it may be easier.

      But I also have mental health issues that include not wanting to be a burden on anyone, so it is hard for me to approach someone for specific advice.

  7. I am a runner. I have a ton of runner pals on my facebook. It is pretty common among our kind to throw out an ache/pain/injury to our brethren before going to a doc. Many people have experienced similar things and know what to try before the call to the doctor.

    However, we do laugh at the people who come to our forums and say something to the effect of “I’m having chest pains.” or “I got hit by a car and am pooping out intestines.”

    But regular aches/pains/strains are fair game.

    1. Hi, fellow runner! And yeah, that is something I see often with runners is a tendency to ask other runners about the stuff that doesn’t seem that serious before dropping the cash and time on seeing a physician.

      1. Given how many runners the average physician sees, there’s a pretty good chance other runners will be a better resource for runner-common and general-population-rare ailments. Five minutes with Google after my 18 miler got me to “hip bursitis”, and after a few days of rest/ice/NSAID I bounced back and had no problem with my 19.5 the next week.

  8. Okay, this isn’t really to do with skeptics and I’m probably going to piss a lot of people off but… Stop posting every goddamn thing your cats do on the fucking internet. Seriously, I like cats as much as anyone. Hell, I like most animals, but a cat in a shoebox is just a cat in a shoebox, people!

    1. What we need is a separate Internet with its own protocol just for cats. Then all the cat stuff would be gathered there, easy to find for those keen on cats – just fire up your kittynet browser and its Cat Image Transfer Protocol will take care of the rest.

  9. To my mom: quit saying the effect of “that’s nice dear” with every godddamned thing I post on FB or wherever. Just. Stop. It.

    To the skeptic community at large: stop acting as if I’m goring your ox when I express skepticism (the horror!) about a position you hold.

  10. This is precisely why I setup a Facebook list that I titled my ‘Read Feed’ that contains all of the people from my friends list that post things that I actually want to read- it’s consistent.

  11. Tailgating.

    Skeptics: assuming that how people feel about things doesn’t count. How people feel about facts doesn’t change whether they’re true, but how people feel about the way they are treated is how they feel and it matters.

  12. “I realize that 99% of people won’t bother to repost this, let’s see who my real friends are!!!!!”

    There is no universe in which tacking this on the end of your slacktivist tripe does not make you a douchebag, so if you must repost it to your wall, please remove that little bit first.

    1. Yes. This is my biggest pet peeve on Facebook. Apparently, I am a cold heartless person who supports cancer, child-soldiers, AIDS, the bullying of gays, etc. etc. because I won’t re-post a status update. My evil knows no bounds.

    2. Oooo, guaranteed to

      A) not make me post it
      B) demote you to “acquaintance” or delete you
      C) reply with a snarky comment

  13. Constant postings about God/Krishna/L. Ron Hubbard and how great it is you’re saved/reincarnated/bat-shit-crazy. I’m glad you are happy with your religion, and the peace of mind it brings you. However, if you can do nothing but talk/post about your religion, you have an addiction.

    Example from a recently unsubscribed friend:
    God I am so grateful to for you! You have heard my pray! Oh how you love me so much b/c Jesus died and rose in my place! Your peace is not of myself but of heaven. I trust in you my Lord. Use my life to make much of you forever. In Jesus name.

    This. All day long. Every day. To the exclusion of everything else. There are other religions represented on my fb feed, but I live in the Bible Belt, so the Atheists/Pagans/Skeptics/Unitarians stay quiet.

    This is only second to those who are constantly posting about how their religion is the only one and they feel sorry for all the other unenlightened idiots.

  14. Unsolicited advice (fair warning): Stop using Facebook. You are not FB’s customer, you are their product. The customers are the advertisers they deliver your eyeballs to. Sop using Facebook and stop being product.

    1. As are the readers of online news papers, for profit blogs, TV watchers, radio listeners etc.

      1. Yeah, anything you do that involves advertising, YOU are the product. It sounds so sinister because OOGEDY BOOGEDY INTERNET FACEBOOK PRIVACY… but that’s what advertising is. When a company sells an ad, the pitch is “you will reach our people”.

        Domino’s isn’t advertising to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, even if they technically are Comedy Central’s product. They’re advertising to me, the person who is drunk and watching The Daily Show and probably craving pizza.


        1. I agree, Elyse. Facebook allows me to exchange photos, thoughts, well wishes with my far-flung family and friends in a way I never could previously. Some caution on the privacy issues is warranted, but nothing can persuade me that there is any imminent threat. Facebook has very little personal information about me. I didn’t even give them my correct birthday or location.

          1. Also, I have a hard time believing that anything you’re sharing with over a dozen people through a third party is something you really consider “private”.

            I mean, offline, you cannot be like “this is seriously confidential. That’s why I’ve only told 300 people, most of whom I barely remember from high school, and 3 of whom I don’t remember becoming friends with, and I’m not really even sure who they are, because we met while drunk, but I still tell them everything.”

  15. Posting atheistic quotes and attributing all of them to Carl Sagan or Richard Dawkins. I feel like an asshole every time I see that one quote assailing the virtues of being an atheist that is easily attributable to an as-of-yet unknown, and because “Atheist Quote of the Day” won’t take the mis-attribution down, everyone attributes it to Sagan. Something anyone who reads Sagan knows he wouldn’t say.


  16. Being extremely vague in a post, trying to get people to respond:

    “Uh-oh! I can’t believe that just happened.”
    “What a bad day!”
    “I hate this.”

    The worst one though, and I’ve seen this from several people:


    Seriously, now that’s just begging for attention. I refuse to comment on such ridiculous posts. If something is wrong, say it, but don’t try to pull people in by trying to get others to ask what is wrong.

    Commenting during sports games is a pretty annoying thing too. (ie, “Yes! Score!” “What a great play!”) No one cares, but on the off chance they do, they’re watching the game and already know.

    1. OMG! YES! The sports thing!

      I once saw a guy who had like 20 followers, posted once every two or three weeks, and randomly he’d have like three game updates… you know, like people are watching his feed to find out what’s going on.

      And if you must tweet “nice play” at least use a hashtag or something so I know that you’re watching a game and not being vague about your latest foray into theater.

          1. Hasn’t there already been a lot of dumping on Texas play-by-play going on at your house?

    2. Don’t forget the ever popular attention seeking “sigh”
      People who reply with “what’s wrong” are almost as annoying.

  17. Please stop rapid fire posting of uninteresting and repetitive junk and images about your pet cause like you’re beating a dead horse. I have no idea why someone would beat a dead horse, or even a living one for that matter, but I can understand why someone would want to stomp on an angry bird or their keeper.

  18. Truck Nutz. Even if you’re doing it ironically on a sedan, they still look ridiculous. Just stop already.

    1. Yes, this is at the top of my list, too. Worse if the nutz are emblazoned with some sort of patriotic symbolism/abuse of patriotism.

      Plus vandalism in general, but public property in particular. It’s painfully ignorant self-flagellation.

  19. I went to a fairly religious conservative high school, and the constant bible quotes and “Jesus Saves” comments EVERY DAY are so frustrating. Especially whe I post a liberal or skeptical post and they feel a need to say something negative about it. Really? If I had proclaimed “THERE IS NO GOD” every time they posted a bible quote, or pointed out hypocrisies, there would be a shit storm.

    1. Ugh, yes. So many people I went to high school with and otherwise grew up with are OBSESSED WITH JESUS. It is fucking obnoxious. I don’t mind the occasional mention, whatever, no big deal, but there is seriously something wrong with the people who *only* talk bout religion and nothing else.

      The worst is that I know people like this in real life and whenever I visit family and people I know back home I sometimes just want to shoot myself.


      1. Mine would be along the lines of;
        Do not tell me you are praying for me unless I ask you to which I never will. If you want to pray have fun but keep that shit to yourself.

      2. I know, what is up with that? And generally it does seem like people from high school.

  20. -People need to stop assuming that all Republicans are evil.
    -People need to stop voting Republican.
    -People need to stop pointing out when I contradict myself.

  21. I’m sure I do lots of annoying things on facebook, but they make me perfectly happy, and I don’t plan to stop this behavior anytime soon. *posts cat pic* ;)

  22. Just for fun, any time someone posts “FML” as their status I respond with : I accept that challenge.

  23. I have this posted as part of my info on Facebook:

    Notice: I retain the right to and I will block you from my newsfeed and/or delete you as a friend (on Facebook, not necessarily in real life) for excessive posting of the following:

    Bible quotes/religiously themed statuses
    Song lyrics
    Reposting jokes or posts from other people/sites
    pushing network marketing
    sexism, racism, age-ism, homophobia, fat-shaming, slut-shaming, etc
    game details or game invitations
    pics of babies, mediocre food, or your feet

    1. I like some of the annoying people on my FB. I even like some of the annoying people in my real life. It’s easier to not be annoyed by them on a constant basis when you aren’t reminded of their annoying obsessions every day.

  24. I think my biggest FB pet peeve lately is the linking to articles that don’t actually take me to the article, but to some intermediary page where I have to approve something before I can read anything.
    It’s really not difficult to just post a link.

    1. That happens with certain websites like The Gardian if you hit one of their facebook “share” links, and not everyone is aware that sites do that. Just copy/paste the title into google. :)

  25. I have friends from a lot of different areas of life and so a lot of them don’t know each other. My biggest peeve is if someone makes asshole remarks to another friend of mine that they have never met in my comment space. I don’t mind if people have discussions or correct erroneous statements, but there are certain skeptics that seem to take comments that indicate a less skeptical mindset as an invitation to rip someone a new one or treat them rudely. You can do that on your own space but that’s not okay to do that to my friends on mine, even if they recommend acupuncture for something. Link some studies or something, don’t be a jerk.

  26. Yelling “fallacy!” at everything. Just because you’ve oversimplified my argument and misinterpreted it to the point where you see it as fallacious (straw man *coughcough*) doesn’t mean that you’re the end-all be-all in skepticism.

    Oh, and all the skeptical hating on philosophy. Where do you think the idea of fallacies comes from, STEM fields?!

  27. I may be alone on this, but people need to stop feeding the quacks out there that promote such nonsense like Bigfoot and mermaids as being real(you know who you are!). Real life animals are cool enough.

    In general, people need to stop being such assholes towards each other and the planet Earth.

    Don’t know how many skeptics also do that, but I suppose the same could apply to certain individuals.

    Even better than telling people what to stop doing would be what they should START doing!

  28. Why I don’t use Facebook.

    -I don’t want to know which fucking My Little Pony I am.
    -I don’t want a Charlie Sheen ball-gag for the new Zynga game Celebrity Whorehouse, and I really don’t care that you just score a triple score by bedding Joan Rivers and Alec Baldwin simultaneously.
    -I do not want to know how evil our president is. I get it, you don’t like him. Pay your Tea Party dues and stop showing everyone how uninformed you really are.
    -I know there are a lot of causes worth supporting, but thank you for the heads up on your pet project anyway. If I feel moved by it I will help, if not don’t ask more than twice. Seriously.
    -If you want to like something like it, own it. If you don’t like something stop doing it just to be ironic. Life’s to short to do shit you hate just to impress people who refuse to admit they are ever impressed. What is wrong with you.
    -Look, I realize that we went to grade school together and were fairly close then, but that was 35 years ago! You do not know the current me; the fact you have invited me to see Ted Nugent proves that, so do me a big favor and just fuck off and die already.
    -If you really don’t want me to tell you that 95% of the things you post are bullshit then stop being so fucking gullible in the first place. And for the fortieth time, rat urine does not cure acne.
    -You think I’m an asshole huh? Well yes, I suppose I am. I was made that way by being fed a constant stream of conspiracy theory links, and miracle cures, and chain letters that two minutes on Snopes would show to be wrong.
    -Not everything witty was said by Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, or George Carlin. And while we’re at it Weird Al has never used the word blowjob in a song.
    -Demotivational posters are no longer funny. If I thought they were I would find them myself.

    I feel lighter now.

  29. like other people, comments that are “uh, so sad :(” or “i really like me REAL friends (they know who they are ?)”
    OK, so I un-friend you.
    As a french person, i also have done that latelly during our election season ;)
    also, i have unsubscibed to people posting links to populist petitions…

  30. I am one of the cool people who isn’t involved in any facebook or facebook like item. Why i felt the need to post this…. of yeah, because I do not have a facebook like item to tell people that I do not have a facebook…. wait… I’m confused now. Am I doing it right?

  31. Actual post:

    It was even on the news, you guys. Make sure you repost in all caps so that you lose the maximum amount of friends.

    1. This was about 8 of my “friends” posts today – when someone pointed out that it’s a hoax, the response was invariably “Well, better safe than sorry!!” Grrr.

  32. Sharing those text-images you mention, the ones with awful Be True To Yourself generalities that say “like in 3 seconds without thinking” below them. If they don’t want you to think, be suspicious. ;)

    Same goes for “99% of you won’t share this” images and status updates.

    I want to tell my F’book friends who share these incessantly that they probably originate with spammers who want more names and email addresses. Like the treacly email forwards from the late 90s.

  33. I unfriend anyone who is trying to tell me the “true story of 9/11”. Squashed one this morning.

  34. Um, this is just a suggestion, but, why are you FB friends with annoying people and disrespectful people?

  35. Ahaaa! Thank you – yes, I am always shocked when people ask for medical advice online. My favorite interior design / recipe blog posts Reader Questions; dozens of questions are like, “my boyfriend just had intestinal surgery. What can he eat?”. I’m like, your doctor didn’t tell you??

    The term political correctness used to mean you didn’t use words like R—-d for special needs children. Now somehow the right wing has turned being polite into a bad thing. wtf.

    I’m not on FB, am on WP and there sure are a lot of awful behaviors. Stealing content for simple copy and paste of an instant post is pretty annoying. I read people’s blogs to hear their own unique voice, not someone else’s.

    I admit I am one of those advice-givers. Sorry. I prefer to use the term coined by Malcolm Gladwell (yes, cheesy, I know), “Maven”. I like to be helpful by sharing what I’ve read and learned. But yeah, I bet I’m annoying to more than a few people.

  36. Sorry for the second comment (annoying behavior #2 I’m guilty of) but as for the skeptic community: I have never run across this here, but some atheists demand that I “come out of the closet” (their words, not mine) and loudly announce that I am an atheist. They’ve done this to Neil Degrasse Tyson too. I can’t even express how obnoxious and controlling that is. I am secular, and I think a diversity of skeptics is a good thing.

    There’s also one hell of a lot of sexism. I’ve been indirectly called a spinster and told I needed smelling salts by atheist men. I say, stfu.

  37. Hi everybody.
    As i think about it, its pretty weird calling all your FB contacts “friends”. True friends i have only 3 or 4. Being friends means that you share very much of a world view, a great deal of trust, and help in need. Well anyway here in the Old Continent :) So we should really make some petition to FB to rename the contact status to.. well, contact, acquaintance or whateva’. Words are beginnig to lose their meaning this way.

  38. It’s called FACEbook for a reason. I don’t want to see pictures of your cat, dog, favorite anime character or your kid as your avatar. Temporary cause or political avatars are acceptable but if I can’t identify you quickly you’re wasting my time.

    People who complain about the constant game or application posts need to figure out the simple fix – block it. Done.

  39. Please stop with the unnecessary pedantry. If I take a well understood, common verbal shortcut that doesn’t compromise the meaning of what I’m trying to say, let it pass. Unless of course there is a high potential for comedy. Then go for it

  40. I recently got talked to about the pictures I post. I like to post photos from work. My job involves removing wild animals from construction sites so they don’t get killed. This sometimes involves rattlesnakes. And scorpions. And tarantulas…

    1. You need to become friends with Augustus Porter! He takes pictures from survey sites and his pics involve snakes and terrifying spiders and all kinds of wildlife. Then you guys can form a scary animal picture defenders coalition.

      He also posts pictures of himself… and his self is quite comely, so you get that, too.

  41. Totally forgot. Anyone who posts sonogram pictures–especially as their profile picture. Seriously have no interest regarding your uterus, kthanxbye.

    Friend of mine had a home birth. She posted a picture of her placenta. Holy wtf. Hid her in the newsfeed.

    1. I never understood people’s objection to the ultrasound pic… parents just get excited to post pictures of their kids.
      Placentas, however, are not children, and are not to be posted where the squeamish can stumble upon them without warning.

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