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Posted by on January 27, 2017

Don’t say it at all. 

I’m grieved at the rude, disrespectful manner of interpersonal contact that’s become commonplace on social media, specifically on Facebook.

Its very name connotes familiarity and thoughtful reflection.  ‘Face’ and ‘book’ each draw a mental picture.  ‘Face’ brings a smile and faraway look as one remembers an easy, relaxed visit over coffee while sitting across the table from a friend.  ‘Book’ carries an idea of the calmness of eyes tracking across a trail of words, pausing to consider; the scent of ideas captured in cages of ink and parchment; the hushed rusking of paper pages edged with the fine golden DNA of generations of fingers. 

This is not targeting Facebook any more than any other social medium.  I am pointing up an issue with those using it forgetting that every message they send reaches a living soul, not just an impersonal icon.

Too much of the Facebook I see daily is neither.  The relative anonymity of profile pictures has prodded an erosion of decency, courtesy and manners.  Those are not old concepts; they are timeless mature ones. 

Information, lightheartedness and mutual encouragement is good.  Desecration of character, depletion of decency, and destruction of friendships is a rotting social tumor, a disastrous and ugly commentary on a society’s lowest common denominator.

Memes are informative, thoughtful, hilarious, embarrassingly accurate, inspirational and challenging.  They are also increasingly boundless in their disgusting, tasteless, self-serving, profane and sometimes lawless content. 

This is primarily a writing venue.  Plenty of movie clips abound – too many.  The complaint I most often hear regarding personal pictures and video clips is, “WHO ON EARTH CARES?”  Writing takes thought and time.  Foul-mouthed slang, gutter language and mutual insults don’t belong on open Facebook.  FB may allow it, but the rest of us don’t need to read or hear it.  Private Messaging is there for a reason.  If you’ve a general message you feel we all need to read, think about how to present it–and clean up your act.  All you’ll do by keeping it up is to restrict your own audience.

What to do?

It’s not a do; it’s a BE.  What you think and say derives from what you are.

A recent meme read, “PRACTICE POSITIVITY.  START A ‘NO-COMPLAINTS-FOR-24-HOURS’ POLICY.”  Yeah.  Instead of immediately letting, “Oh, YEAH?  Well, —–” be your first reaction and letting fly with the first thing popping into your head, school yourself to pay more and more attention to working on responding instead of reacting

Ever notice how “LIKE” sometimes doesn’t fit?  Facebook figured that out, offering a few options.  Yet there’s a large coulee between a quick-click response on an impersonal icon, and going to private messaging to respond with some personal thoughts, shared as friends should:  both private and careful.

The 24-hour hiatus on complaining sounds like a great idea.  Consider it Retort Reform.  Instead of immediately whining and retaliating from behind the safety of today’s Profile Picture when something negative hits your hot button?  Consider keeping quiet, thinking it through and coming up with some possible alternatives addressing the situation instead of attacking the other person(s).

Where death is concerned, there are no guarantees.  Yet many of us are at the age where every month may bring news of someone we knew or went to school with dying.  Too much of Facebook flickers across the ‘Net at half the speed of good sense.  The possibility exists that a hot or grouchy retort may be the last thing they read from you. 

Suggestions, then.  How about using a common-sense filter before posting something? 

  • Is what you’re getting ready to SEND me something you’d sit across a friendly table and say to me?  If years have separated us, you don’t know my story, my journey, my back trail.  I don’t know yours.  Open Facebook is not the place to get personal, especially when you’ve no idea what impact your words will have.  Things you say/write can have unintended consequences.
  • Is what you’re writing something you’d allow me to say to your face?  If so, how would you say it?  Saying something a few feet from the other person who can visibly and audibly respond is much different than hurriedly keying it and mashing ‘SEND’.
  • Is what you’re writing necessary?  I’ve caught myself ambling through The Sleepless Lonelies and wondering who’s on Facebook?  Reclining in bed, brain propped on an elbow, it’s easy to dither.  As a writer, I find myself editing thoughts and ideas, most of which never reach my keyboard.  Nah, I don’t need to say that.  Few will pay any attention to it, and it’s not necessary anyway.  Move along; nothing to see here.  No surprise that there’s way too much info bombarding us.  Right?  Adding to it with no purpose just makes it worse.  When asked, ‘Aren’t you going to say something?” an old guy said, “Not unless it’ll improve the silence.”

We differ about things.  That’s the beauty of being unique individuals.  We can do that while becoming better friends, and by working to understand and accept each other’s individuality.

We’ve all been friends for too long to do otherwise.

© D. Dean Boone, January 2017


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