Some folks have commented to me privately about how I seem to be pulling away on Facebook. Well, its true. This has been a slow process, but Facebook has increasingly become nothing more than a place where playground scrums occur. I’m just as guilty of doing that as anyone else, so please don’t start up with commentary that I am being “holier than thou” or some such nonsense.
Over this past weekend, I have watched two of my friends get attacked over statements that they have made on different subjects. Both of them were attempting to do the one thing I have always viewed social media as being the champion of: discourse. However, over the last two years, Facebook has devolved into a place where you can insult people openly, denigrate those whose opinions are in opposition to your own, and it seemingly has become an environment where cyber-bullying is encouraged. Reporting such activities to Facebook seems to get no other response than a bot-generated notation that the issue has been looked at and found not to violate the terms/agreement of Facebook’s Terms of Service (ToS). That’s fine, Facebook is one of many platforms – granted it is by far the most popular. And they can run their platform as they see fit. But, none of that excuses the behaviors on display there.
Perhaps, its the open anonymity that fuels those behaviors. After all, would you say the same directly to someone’s face, if there is even a chance (and a very high one at that) of getting your ass physically beaten? Most likely not. And let’s be realistically honest here…I just checked, and I have 405 Facebook friends. Not a massive amount, and number counts mean little to nothing for me. But just looking through those folks, I would say I may have actually met about 40 to 50 of them face-to-face at one time or another. Any face-to-face encounter I have had with people has been cordial and friendly. I cannot say the same for Facebook interactions, as can be documented by the 68 people I have in my block list. Again, I point to the false bravado that online anonymity can provide, though not everyone in the lock list is there because of that.
There’s already a storm here. And its only the edges that have arrived at this point. I am doing my best to watch my interactions with others, as I continue to strengthen my connections to my tribe. I know that I cannot control how others may or may not behave, but I am wondering even more as to the “whys” of all this type of interaction. Some of it, I understand as ego-driven, and other parts of it as the need to be “right” in any discussion. What I cannot fathom, is the manner in which everyday conversations get ratcheted into ugly, divisive back-and-forths.
To steal a part of a lyric from the Grateful Dead, lately its occurred to me…that we might not be in a position of being such a divided nation (here in America), if we just practiced a little more common courtesy towards one another. Instead of railing against someone for being “stupid” for supporting Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or some third-party candidate for President, if we just noted that we disagree with their choice and moved on to other points of conversation – perhaps we might find out more about the friends we have made online, and develop stronger relationships with them.
Certainly, we are not going to agree with everyone. However, even despite the differences in opinion, religious belief, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or what not – we can practice a little more common courtesy. Except on the topic of tacos. If you don’t like tacos, we can’t be friends. I have to draw the line somewhere. 🙂