Facebook. Friends or Frienemies?

What can one man do to make things better? I’ve been paying close attention to this social media tidal wave since it first hit. I was on “My Space” back when AOL was the big deal, and I jumped onboard Facebook in 2009. I’ve made some friends here in the virtual world…friends I have never physically met.

Isn’t that a strange thing to say? I have stumbled upon my virtual friends mainly from a commonality of shared social, cultural, and political values. Therefore, most of my virtual friends think pretty much like I do on those issues. While that’s not a bad thing altogether, I think it has led many of us away from dealing with each other in the real world.

I have differences of opinion with people I have known all my life, and I would never have known it if not for this constant spotlight we put ourselves into. We are trapped by the ease in which we can see and read everyone’s post. We are appalled at times at what we see on this virtual page, perhaps so much in disagreement with what is written, that we are angered to the point that we “unfriend” a long time acquaintance or a family member. That didn’t used to be a big thing back in the early days of this media, but now it’s akin to a slap in the face, and a request for a duel. It’s telling someone that you have known forever that you don’t want to see what they have to say, or what they do anymore.

It’s a weird situation.

I think in all this time since 2009, I cannot remember changing anybody’s mind about anything to do with the above mentioned attributes which are discussed so much on these pages. I believe we don’t change people’s minds here on this media, but instead simply galvanize them in the mindset in which they already dwell.

I am more certain to have changed a few opinions by talking with people in person, face to face…then by anything I have written here. If it’s political especially, I’m simply preaching to one set of people, and making the other set mad.

I see on my pages, where I pledge from time time to simply stick to what I think I do best…some photos, some simple stories…but then I get sucked back into the vortex by something outrageous which happens in our country or in our world. Lord help me, it’s hard not to. This medium is designed to keep you “activated” about issues, and it has become more and more filled with people, both fake and real, whose purpose is to keep us stirred up, and divided against each other.

I have taken this week to honestly and truly try to judge how this media takes people that I know are good people, and turns them…turns me…into agitators against each other. I’m sickened by what I’ve seen and read. I’m so repulsed by a lot of things which I have read and seen just on my Facebook friends pages, that it’s hard to express. I really hope everyone will take a look at what you post and share, and think about the fact that many, many people see what you share and use it to form an opinion about the type of person you are, regardless of if you really ARE that type of person. I could site specific examples, but Lordy…I’m not going there.

Remember that if you share something, lots of people see it. You may not get a “like” or a comment, but it gets seen a lot. I know some people don’t care, but I do. I want to get off of this train of constantly having to keep up with posts and comments, and stories….which, while many are important…few are things which I can personally change. I’m tired of feeling like I have to toe some kind of line with my friends, out of some kind of imaginary obligation to let them know I’m right there behind them, to back them up. It’s exhausting. It’s also unnecessary. None of y’all need my opinions to make your day. By now all of my Facebook friends know about what I’m for and what I’m against.

I’ve said all that simply to say this: We are all different, and have different opinions and philosophies. I hope we can try to spend less time arguing about them here, and instead spend more quality time with our loved ones, and our friends with who we physically deal. I’m looking forward to our 50th class reunion party in July, where I hope to be shaking hands, hugging, and speaking about old times with some people I love dearly. To any of those people, and really to most all of the people who I know, I offer my sincere wish that we can continue to discuss life, but do it in a friendly manner.

I remain as I am, and will be…yours truly.