Well, I guess there’s nothing like a little Supreme Court decision to get a guy blogging again… Truth is, I’m not sure I have staying power, because I’m no less busy than I’ve been since I decided I didn’t have time to blog.
But I come here today not so much because I feel I have any particular insight that the world needs to hear as much as I just need an outlet. Writing is really a wonderful outlet, because it allows time to compose thoughts and think about what you are going to write. But there is a caveat to this: I don’t consider most social or electronic media exchanges “writing.” Those are type-written conversations. In fact, in many cases they are worse than actual conversation because there is no personal interaction that helps one realize that a discussion is happening with a human being, and perhaps a line has been crossed.
So, twitter, Facebook, discussion boards, and even e-mail exchanges can lead to bad behavior, or bad responses to otherwise innocent behavior that has been misunderstood. And quite frankly, it’s a part of social media that I absolutely hate.
So, not quite a year and a half ago, I finally joined Facebook after avoiding it on purpose for years. I did so because my oldest daughter was trying to get a scholarship and needed a Facebook page to get it. She also needed people who would comment and like and whatever else you do on facebook. For self-serving financial reasons (more scholarship for her = less potential tuition from me!) I started a simple Facebook page.
What was amazing to me was how quickly I received friend requests from all sorts of people. It was as if people were just waiting for me to join and pounced when I did. I now realize that, by design, people are made aware of potential friends in a myriad of ways, and it’s really easy to just click an “add friend” box.
I sort of enjoyed it for a while. “Hey.” I thought, “it’s actually kind of nice to see what people are up to, and to stay in touch a bit.” Time passed, old friends from high school and college reconnected. Cousins I don’t see very often sent me friend requests. I could get quick updates on the Packers or Brewers or whatever I wanted with almost no effort. OK, maybe I shouldn’t have avoided Facebook after all!
And then it happened. My teacher cousins and friends started posting incessant anti-Scott Walker rants. I like Scott Walker. Then someone “liked” a Planned Parenthood post that hit my status. And so on. And then, as the culmination of so many of these annoying instances, Friday the 26th of June happened.
Now, let me back up just a bit here.
I fully understand that some are on Facebook specifically as issue-oriented posters. They may be part of a ministry, or they may work for a political party, or whatever. Most of their posts will be political or issue oriented or religious or whatever. In these cases, it is their purpose. I hold no grudge or animosity against anyone who I choose to be friends with and I know that they will be posting things I don’t like because of the nature of what they do. Of course, I really am only friends with people in those cases where I generally line up with them politically or religiously, so it’s all good. But I just wanted to make that differentiation.
My usage preference for Facebook is as follows: (1) read what people post; (2) think of some sarcastic comment to make that is supposed to be funny; (3) repeat (1) and (2). On occasion, actually post something remotely interesting about my life that others may find interesting.
Here is my view of how people should treat Facebook: If my entire group of “friends” were to hang out together and have a nice meal and a drink or two and catch up with one another, and we knew that the cross-section of that group of friends had a lot of different thoughts about a lot of different things, including hot-button issues that stir up a lot of emotions, then there would be a reasonable expectation that the following would NOT occur: Just about everything during election season or since Friday that shows up on my status on Facebook.
If you called me up and said “Hey, Joe. It’s been a long time. I’d like to reconnect. How about we do lunch?” And I responded in the affirmative, and then I showed up at lunch and you had on a “Catholics Suck!” t-shirt on and started ranting on about how Scott Walker is an evil moron, then you’d be a complete and total social moron who is acting in no way like a friend would act.
If you showed up at my house on Friday afternoon for no other purpose than to wave a rainbow flag out your car window as you drive up and down my driveway, you’d be disrespecting my beliefs in an immature and encroaching way, while all the time saying “It’s just a flag. I’m just showing my support for the cause.” No, the flag is symbolic of taking a side on a hot-button issue, and you are thrusting it in my face. This is not passive., even if you want to convince yourself that it is.
So, on Facebook, every profile picture that has the rainbow flag, every post that makes fun of Christians, and so on is an encroachment on my timeline. I didn’t ask for that. I just wanted to see what you’re up to. Keep your politics and religiophobic sentiments off my status, thank you very much,
So being the opinionated person that I am, I really really want to respond. But if I respond, it might get ugly. Not because I won’t try to do so charitably, but because I’m smart enough to know (and have enough experience in other venues to know) that no matter how hard one tries to be charitable in presenting the truth, the truth itself at some point must be stated with clarity. And that clarity in truth is actually the thing that some find offensive. So, you can surround the truth with all the usual suspects: “I really love everyone…” “I am friends with and know many…” “I mean no disrespect to anyone, I just want to explain how I see things…” and so on. But all that will be ignored as soon as soon as any sort of statement is presented that is contrary to the accepted moral relativism of our time. Sadly, it has been accepted by numerous people we know well – family, friends, and many who sit next to us in our churches.
So, I’m posting. I’m posting because it’s an outlet and it’s not a direct response to anyone and it will not show up on other peoples’ status pages. I’m posting because the only people who will read this are those who stumble across it or follow the blog – it will be their choice to read it. It’s therapeutic.
What I really wanted to do was post something on my status stating that I would be donating $X to different charities for every post that annoys me. And then I was going to list a whole bunch of examples of offending posts. As a couple examples, “Any anti-Scott Walker post, donation to his campaign. Extra donation for any references to physical harm” “Any <so-and-so> has updated profile picture to cover it in the rainbow flag status update – $X to Family Research Council.” That’s just a couple. I had a whole list. I thought it was funny and made my point, but in the end I decided against it.
So, I blogged instead.