Have you declared your intention to slice up your Facebook account into a billion cyber-pieces–to leave and never return?
I certainly wouldn’t call it a stampede, but a number in our Tuesday Community tell me they’re done with Facebook and all its ilk.
They’re feelings have been hurt on Facebook. They have been enraged, it’s a huge time sink–and by the way, they “like” the posts of all sorts of people who don’t “like” them back. It’s a social media caste system of the self-appointed cool and ‘liked’, and users who don’t get the attention they want. There’s a political and social dimension of who you “like” and ignore.
In these days of social distancing, people are still able to get in close proximaty through Facebook. Then of course there’s the larger pantheon of social media that includes Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Whatsapp, Pinterest, and a bewildering compendium of many others.
In this 7th week (in Texas and New Mexico, USA) of social distancing, ways to connect with other people are even more important.
Here are the kinds of friends I know on Facebook: Where are you in this list?
- The Lurkers. Some people have been on Facebook for years and never post. Some go on seldom, and others quite regularly to see what’s happening. They feel a connection without participating.
- The Occasionals. From time to time these folks post children’s graduations, anniversaries, and special birthdays. They use Facebook as a medium to celebrate occasions they’re proud of.
- The Addicted. Some people have told me that Facebook and similar platforms are the backbone of their day–fundamental to the way they move through life. These friends post multiple times about lifestyle issues–children, grandchildren, recipes, sunsets, flowers, and the like. Facebook forms the backdrop of their lives.
- Friends and family. Some friends use Facebook to connect their families. One of the aspects of Facebook that I would miss if I left is connecting with children, their families, and distant relatives I didn’t even know existed. I experience life with them in a day-to-day way that would be impossible any other way.
- The Image Builders. Facebook is a great backdrop to become much more widely known than you could otherwise be. Facebook is like being able to put yourself on the front page as many times a day as you like. Image building is valid; people build their images from the first moment of their day when they comb their hair in the morning.
Some people do a great job building their images on Facebook. They have the opportunity to set their own style, tone and dress and the way they express themselves. I’m always interested in the accomplishments of my friends they post on Facebook. There is a fine line between letting people know that you’re moving forward, and self-aggrandizement that kind of makes you want to puke. It’s a very nuanced ability we have to develop.
- Social Commentators. There are many Facebook friends who state views about different trends in society, from work ethic to leadership today. I hear on the media that some of these Facebook people and groups can be anything from anarchists to racists, but I don’t see them in my Facebook world. I generally appreciate different points of view, and the commentators I see that post I find mostly positive.
- Business Developers. Facebook can be an opportunity to tell people about your goods and services, which can be valid if done in the right way, informing people how you can serve them.
People want to do business with friends and people they know and I’m glad to learn about resources I need from people I know. But sometimes marketers on Facebook can be maddening. I recently had an unknown financial advisor who friended my on Facebook, and immediately proceeded to spam me. Double yech! Business development can be done with a proper approach. We post Tuesday Report articles to Facebook, which is an interactive way of connecting to people we might do business with. It’s always friendship and connection first, doing business a future possibility
- The Political/Religious Advocates. I sometimes get posts that advocate religious faith, and being a person of faith, I almost always welcome messages from friends about their faith.
As a person of faith, I also get posts from agnostics and atheists who, out of the blue, make fun of faith, and posts like that don’t bother me if they’re done occasionally. I love it that in our country we have the freedom to express our views–although you have to realize the reaction may be volcanic.
Political Expression can be Explosive
Political expression is the most explosive aspect of social media expression. I get posts both from right and left wing organizations here in the US, and they don’t upset me because each one’s point of view is expected, and I read them and put them in context. Being a person who doesn’t always choose from the traditional menu of left and right, I find it irritating when a particular political group assumes I agree with everything they say.
Close Friends and Relatives Can Have Volatile Political Views
The explosion comes from friends you’ve known for a long time and value their insights and friendship. Then suddenly they surprise you when you read a post from them that reveals their political point of view, which is different from yours, and you had no idea they thought that way, which you find shocking. The political divide in the US is often unseen under the surface of people’s relationships, and when it comes out, there is a huge explosion of people, which suddenly casts someone you have loved and admired in a different light.
I don’t think there is anything wrong or right about posting political views. Being the global forum of the new world, a person has the potential to influence millions. On the other hand, we have to be prepared for people’s volatility and the surprising reactions you’ll get.
Facebook–The Town Square of the Globe Today
Facebook is not just an app where people log on to put a group of old and new friends together. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn combined with many other platforms have become the town square of a new world. Facebook and companion apps have become the center of information, misinformation, infiltrated by foreign powers and other operatives to invade the minds of people around the world.
When I post my ideas on the Internet to social media I might make the mistake of thinking that the people who read my post think as I do. A key fact I’ve learned by posting is that people don’t think and react as I do–nor are they as interested and committed to free speech as I am. I recently got unceremoniously unfriended by a person who didn’t agree with my opinion, and said goodbye with, “Jack, you’re just really stupid.” I didn’t mind them booting me off their Facebook group of friends, but stupid . . . ? That hurts.
It’s like ancient Mars Hill in Athens where people met to hear ideas and events that were shaping the world of that time. There were wise men and charlatans, people there to inspire you and inform you, and other people who were there to pick you pockets.
The early Internet was criticized in the same way that social media is today. A pastor once told me, “Don’t go on the Internet. There’s lots of false information there.” The same could be said of a library. It is full of the world’s knowledge, along with ideas that are totally false.
Social media is the environment we live in today, like town, countryside, and ocean. It requires my discernment to navigate. I understand people who cut the cord with social media, but it is leaving a whole world. And I wouldn’t be leaving Facebook, I would be leaving hundreds of people I care about.