I Changed My Mind About Facebook, Then I Changed It Again

by David on July 28, 2015

The First Change

Political and religious posts on Facebook get tiring. But only if they aren’t what YOU believe, eh? Yep, I found myself thinking that lately.

But I like Facebook, I really do. It’s fun to keep up with people that you’d never keep up with otherwise. It makes you feel connected to people that you’d rarely correspond with. It feels good to post things, then have people “Like” them, doesn’t it? And if it’s something you feel strongly about, there are people who will support you and tell you they feel the same way. The people who disagree… well, they just don’t get it, do they?

The political and religious posts kinda separate the sheep from the goats, don’t they? And YOU get to decide what the sheep and goat categories are. Take the recent Supreme Court decision about gay marriage: by their posts, you could tell who supported it and who didn’t.

Which brings me to my first change of mind. Here’s what I WAS going to post on Facebook. I didn’t post it, and later I’ll tell you why.

“As many of you know, in the past I’ve posted statements or links that supported my spiritual and political views. I’m changing that. From now on when I want to post something like that, I’m only going to post a link to one of my blogs, where the story or comment or link can be found. That way, anyone who wants to can go see it, but no one will see the content without going there.

This change is consistent with my new decision to not use Facebook for voicing short “sound bites” on things that need and deserve to be placed in context, or cannot be sufficiently discussed in the tit-for-tat realm of Facebook.

I won’t block anyone who makes a different choice, but I won’t be commenting, unless it’s to add a link to something.

Please note that I’m not doing this because I’m afraid I’ll hurt someone’s feelings, or that I shy away from controversy, but because I believe Facebook is not an adequate medium for real, productive discourse on complex topics, and encourages short, rude remarks.”

It was while typing that last sentence that I changed my mind again.

The Second Change

When I considered WHY I was making the above decision, I realized that all I was doing is removing my voice — my ideas — from the fog that is Facebook. No, Facebook isn’t a good place to have meaningful discussions. Yes, Facebook lends itself to the “sound bite” that is often rude or silly or even hateful. But I’m certainly not changing anything by remaining silent. And any snobby good feeling I get from “rising above it all” would be offset by the same frustrations I’ve always had. I had to ask myself: do I really want to let a stupid hateful remark go unchallenged?

Not that I set myself up as “the voice” of any particular idea or cause, but what if no one says to a person, “That’s a racist statement, here’s why, and you really should re-think your post.” The die-hard racist won’t change their position of course, but what about a well-meaning person who just doesn’t see that a particular thought leans that way? Is Facebook really a place where NO mind can be changed and NO person will think more deeply about something, if prompted? I’m going to say no to that question, even in the face of plenty of evidence otherwise.

So, with my mind changed again, I’m going back to commenting now and then, back to “Liking” things I agree with, and back to gently chastising people when I think it’s warranted. If we all just talked about the great meal we just had or only wished people happy birthday, I do think Facebook would be nicer. But the world isn’t a nice place many times, and maybe a well placed word will make a difference after all, even if small.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Marilyn Norrod July 29, 2015 at 7:47 am

I have also struggled sometimes with the whole “why bother” feeling about arguing with close-minded people (on Facebook or otherwise). I concluded that I should go ahead and disagree when someone makes a hateful or ignorant comment. They need to know that not everyone agrees. I try to keep the response gentle, reasoned and calm. I use humor when I can. It doesn’t usually change the original commenter’s mind. But what it can do is help people who are “on the fence” about a subject see the other point of view. That opens minds and hearts.
It also helps when we match our words and our actions, which is something I’m working on.
I agree with you that many of these discussions deserve more than a quick comment can give them, and I’m happy to see you blogging about it!

Reply

David July 29, 2015 at 2:11 pm

Thanks Marilyn! And I agree. More “leaven in the loaf” can’t hurt. Unfortunately, it seems we can never avoid the knee-jerk emotional reactions that some folks feel the need to share. But maybe more reasonable comments can be seen by someone who will think about things more deeply.

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