I figure I’ve been on Facebook for about six years now. I went through a period when I was lucky to log on once a week. For the past couple of years, I have visited Facebook on a daily basis. Many days, I am on the site multiple times. It has become my go-to way to communicate with many of my friends. I also really enjoy reading people’s updates and seeing pictures of them with their families.
However, for some people, Facebook has become a forum for their endless discontent with society. You know the people I’m talking about. Every other post consists of some meme touting their political party (or demonizing the political party they don’t like). Or maybe their discontent revolves around gay rights, racial inequality, animal rights, vaccinations for children, workers’ rights, minimum wage, women’s rights, immigration, police brutality, the 2nd Amendment, the right to say Merry Christmas, the right not to have to hear Merry Christmas, religion…the list could go on forever.
Don’t get me wrong, these are all noble causes. Well, all but one. The anti-vaccination bullshit rankles my hide. I was vaccinated as a child, my children and grandchild are vaccinated per the recommendations of their doctors, and none of us are autistic or paralyzed or suffering from any mental or physical maladies that anti-vaccination proponents like to attribute to vaccinations. I get my medical advice from a person who studied medicine and received a medical degree, not some bonehead like Jenny McCarthy. Okay, enough of that.
Though I identify myself as a member of one of America’s two major political parties, I am able to recognize that each political party has its own set of strengths and weakness, and that there are enough idiots on both sides of the aisle to fill a 747 or two. Every day, I see memes bashing both political parties. Many of these memes contain information that is presented out of context, or information that is simply untrue.
As for other causes and issues, remember that you don’t win people over to your cause by ramming information down their throats, particularly information that is inaccurate, or is presented in such a manner that vilifies people who may not agree with you. I am a firm believer that honest, open, and…wait for it… respectful dialogue is what leads to change, not hate and vitriol.
Far be it from me to tell someone what to post on Facebook or criticize someone else’s posts. However, just because someone took the time to make a cute little meme DOESN’T mean that the information on that meme is anywhere close to being true and accurate. What it means is that someone wants you to think a certain way, and unless you fact-checked the information on that meme before you posted it, you drank the Kool-Aid, and by extension, you are letting someone else tell you how you should think. Here’s an idea: THINK FOR YOURSELF. Folks, there are enough idiots in this world who can’t or won’t think for themselves. Don’t be one of them.
Also, I have a couple of questions for the people who spend hour after hour, day after day posting the kind of stuff I have been talking about. Do you really believe in the causes you are “promoting?” Do you believe in them enough to participate in peaceful rallies or volunteer at the animal shelter (or homeless shelter or wherever)? If so, that’s great! If not, you are what’s known as a slacktivist. Slacktivism is “the act of showing support for a cause but only truly being beneficial to the egos of people participating in this so-called activism. The acts tend to require minimal personal effort from the slacktivist” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slacktivism).
For the sake of transparency, I have, in the past, posted memes without verifying the information they contained. I have, in the past, been a slacktavist. Currently, I don’t make a habit of either. I try not to post stuff that is divisive on Facebook. I go to Facebook to have fun, catch up with friends, and post stuff about my family. People who I’m friends with on Facebook know that I have the world’s cutest granddaughter, Ariana, and good kids, because I post lots of pictures and stories. And they know that I’m a big fan of the Canadian rock band Rush. And England’s Steven Wilson/Porcupine Tree. And Pink Floyd. Oh, and Indiana University basketball and Indianapolis Colts football. That’s what Facebook should be: a place where people go to share what’s good. You want the bad? Just watch your local news or any of the cable news shows. There’s enough bad stuff and bullshit there to fertilize every cornfield in Indiana. Do we really need to rehash it all on Facebook? Or worse yet, present information that is false or misleading?
Yesterday, I was talking my good friend Julie Foltz about this very issue. She is passionate about helping people with HIV, and trust me, she ain’t no slacktavist. She puts her money, time, and talent where her mouth is. She said, “I think I get more depressed from looking at Facebook and the hatred that people in this world have.” I completely agree with her. I love it when someone builds up someone else on Facebook, rather than tearing them down. I love it when I see a picture of someone’s kid, happy and carefree, rather than some idiotic meme that someone else created, bashing one group of people or another.
If this blog applies to you, do me a favor and try this: Go one day, heck, even one week, without posting anything negative. Instead, focus on the positive things in your life. You’ll be amazed at how good it makes you feel. Or, if what I have said offends you, feel free to unfriend me or unfollow me or whatever. My newsfeed will immediately be less cluttered.