Facebook has problematic issues; however, I would not recommend facing off. There’s enough conflict and misunderstanding in our world without using Facebook as a vehicle for ugliness, retribution, snarky behavior. My column today is for all those folks who don’t have an account and claim to not be interested in having one but are eager to get reports on why users do have them and what recent posts by their acquaintances have indicated.
Get an account (easy to do) and let’s say for a minute that you tire of saccharine postings, or recipes for fattening foods, or accounts of twinges, aches and pains of your friends. No one said you are required to read everything that comes up when you log in. Read what interests you, click on “Like” if you want to, or post a comment. Enough said here.
After a time of using Facebook, you may feel ignored or provoked. Just opt out for a week or two. You’ll soon be back on. WHY?
Facebook has become an easy connection to persons we knew decades ago. We recognize the names from our past. The faces? Not so much. Gray hair, saggy, wrinkled faces, 20 more pounds- or 50. All we need do is look in our mirrors and we see the same changes.
You may find, as I have, a person I once knew as a concerned, rational human being has become a bigot and is angry with the world. I want to know why, but I don’t ask because I fear he won’t give me an honest answer. It’s easier to defriend him, which I have.
One of my friends, 65 years old or so, frequently posts pictures of nude paintings, and I wonder why this obsession. I appreciate the human body and its skillful depiction by a photographer or painter as much as many, but I don’t want a steady diet and I wonder why he does.
Another type posting I question is the rather intimate declaration of love for a partner. That seems a private matter. So I ignore these and suggest you do as well.
And then there are the selfies by those who are still beautiful and must show the world the latest pose with hair looking like a Clairol commercial and exquisite makeup. My advice to these people is to post an interesting photo of yourself and leave it alone for a month or so, maybe longer. All those comments for which you are fishing, “Awesome,” “Beautiful,” “More lovely than ever,” are tiresome – both to others who read them and those who feel compelled to post them.
And it makes no sense to berate your company, your boss, the man or woman who “done you wrong” or give details of your latest asthma attack on Facebook. This is public space and if in the future, or in the now, you don’t want the information you post spread throughout the state and the nation, don’t post it.
So why do I stay on Facebook?
* I love being introduced to art by my friend Katherine Forrest in Santa Fe, and I treasure the Harlan County photos that Lydia Dykes posts. She indicates a strong desire to share the history she researches. Keep it up, Lydia.
* I want to know how those people I’ve known in Kentucky, Ohio, California, Texas and Missouri are doing. Are they living their lives with purpose? Jessica McKinney-Alabi indicates that she never again wants to lose touch with her family and friends, and Facebook makes that possible. I like that. I see it as important, purposeful.
* I enjoy reading the anecdotes of a former student, Jeremy Dunham, who works in a Shell station and has collected 60 pages of anecdotes thus far of weird, funny, outrageous people doing their thing at the station He is planning a book, and I think it will be successful.
* When a student from my past locates me and raves about the impact I’ve had on his/her life, I am humbled.
* Roger Noe reports, “I discover how far to the right and conservative many of my generation friends seem to be. I re-post a few liberal ideas and bam, the hits start coming my way. In some ways Facebook has helped me reaffirm my belief that one should not dislike a person because of their positions on topics, even if they are dead wrong and ignorant of the facts.”
* “I do think too many people misuse social media,” writes Lisa Abraham. “Sometimes I am amused by people who constantly
post every detail of their lives and endless photos of themselves. The attention-seeking behavior gets a bit tiresome.”
* Need someone to listen? Jennifer Cassim Farmer indicates, “In September of 2012 I had a spiral fracture of the tibia and a broken fibula. Facebook helped me through some very discouraging days. All in all, Facebook is quite like therapy for me.”
* New or established business owner? Jennifer Varney Sturm says, “ I try to keep my Facebook life pretty upbeat and fun, so I stir away from political and religious discussions, debates, and rants. I now am a small business owner, and I’m still navigating the benefits of social media in establishing my brand.”
One thing most of us know is that change in all areas of our lives is inevitable and we, as well as the institutions that have served us in the past, will always be making way for innovation (Remember the Pony Express?). The world is a big place, and our lives are complex. Just determine how you want to navigate those complexities. I chose Facebook as one of my tools.
Send comments or suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.